Estimating cost-saving potential from international sourcing and other sourcing levers: Relative importance and trade-offs

H. Schiele, P. Horn, G.C.J.M. Vos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


– Research results concerning the cost‐saving potential of international sourcing have been ambiguous and the topic has been covered in isolation without accounting for influences of alternative cost‐saving approaches. This paper aims to analyze the expected financial impact of international sourcing in relation to savings potential attributed to other sourcing tactics, such as, e.g. collaborative product improvement. Furthermore, the paper tests for potential trade‐offs between different levers.

– Data stem from results of 134 cross‐functional cost‐saving workshops using an identical methodology. Workshop participants identified and estimated cost‐saving projects considering seven sourcing levers. Results were recorded in a standardized way and analyzed scrutinizing secondary data.

– Contrary to other studies, data revealed that international sourcing projects averaged 3.4 percent savings expectations. More than 80 percent of total savings potential was attributed to other sourcing levers, such as pooling of demand or process improvement. Results highlight possible trade‐offs between international sourcing and, e.g. joint product optimization.

Research limitations/implications
– A rigorous and strict, highly standardized method was employed and data were validated via cross‐functional team discussions, however, ex ante expectations instead of ex post realized savings are analyzed.

Practical implications
– Findings give guidance on the importance of international sourcing compared to other levers and help to correct the misconception of international sourcing as a “purchasing panacea.” The findings highlight the need to develop a coherent sourcing strategy for specific commodity groups, including reinforcing tactics and avoiding trade‐offs.

– For the first time, explicitly cost‐savings expectations from international sourcing have been analyzed together with other cost‐saving levers concerning relative importance and possible trade‐offs among them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-336
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimating cost-saving potential from international sourcing and other sourcing levers: Relative importance and trade-offs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this