McIvor, R. and Humphreys, P. (2004) Early Supplier Involvement in the Design Process: Lessons Learned from the Electronics Industry, Omega, 32,pp.179-199
The paper gives a good overview of early supplier involvement (ESI) research area. Focus of this area is in the outputs of the process and not so much on communication, which we have focused on in our studies. Interest to ESI has increased due to firms externalizing wide range of functions to external suppliers. Reasons behind this trend are increased global competition, rapid technical changes, need for faster development of products with higher quality and reliability. The benefits of ESI are better utilization of expertise, reduced internal complexity (extra resources provided), improved communication and better buyer-supplier relationships. Since ESI (and design) is information processing activity the importance of inter- and intra-organizational communication is essential for the task to be effective problem-solving. I found some figures that contradict the findings we have made. According to the article 77.5% of supplier companies collaborate with their major customers. And 60% of suppliers are involved already in the concept phase of the design. The content of the communication was technical suggestions (97.5% of the interviewed companies), process capabilities (90%), breakdowns in processes (67,5%) and market information (67.5%).