Carter and Miller (1989), The impact of alternative vendor/buyer communication structures on quality of purchased materials, Decision Sciences, 20(4), pp. 759-776

It was time to go back to basics. Thus I read this paper that compares serial and parallel communication structures in a buyer/vendor relationship. Although the paper does not mention the concept “early supplier involvement” it is early work of the work done in that field. The traditional serial structure has advantages, such as one contact point (buyer-seller), which helps prevent information overflow in other functions of the company. Moreover, the buyer firm has a tight control of the information flow between the companies, which gives them power and leverage in the relationship. The buyer firm is not as attached to the vendor as it is in the parallel structure. However, the parallel structure has advantages. When contact is not limited to purchasing and buying, the quality issues can be discussed by the people who know most about them, for example, production managers. The authors state that the parallel structure leads to better quality components, since the right people talk about it and they understand the quality the same way after the discussion. In a serial structure the vendor might omit knowledge about the quality defects (e.g., cause of it). In parallel structure they share knowledge and communicate to come to a solution for the quality defects.