International Purchasing Offices: Literature review and research directions
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International Purchasing Offices (IPOs) of Multinational Corporations (MNCs) now play an increasingly important role in the management of international sourcing activities, both in developed and in emerging economies. None of the literature reviews published on topics such as “international sourcing”, “global operation” or “international supply chain management” has addressed the literature developed in twenty years of research concerning this organizational strategy. This paper, based on the analysis of 56 works, published between 1992 and 2011 in the form of scientific and practitioners’ journal papers, books, and government reports, provides the first comprehensive literature review on the “International Purchasing Offices” topic. The main issues (i.e. IPO definition, activities performed by IPOs, location choices, strengths, weaknesses and human resources management) are identified and a conceptual framework is proposed. Building on this, some methodological weaknesses of the existing works and some gaps in the literature are discussed. The work concludes by suggesting several future research directions.