An Analysis of the Current Purchasing and Materials Management Educational Environment

Article excerpt

The last decade has seen a concerted effort by the National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM) and many influential academics and practitioners to promote the development of purchasing and materials management programs at universities and colleges across the United States. These efforts have been predicated on the assumption that if more universities sponsor purchasing and materials management programs, the number of graduates seeking employment in the field will increase, thereby enhancing the professional stature of purchasing. The NAPM Professorship program, the Doctoral Student Grant program, the Case Writing Workshop in Purchasing Management, and the Case Teaching Workshop are examples of efforts by NAPM to foster purchasing education.

In 1965, more than 300 universities and colleges in the United States reported that they regularly taught purchasing courses in various formats as part of their business school curricula.|1~ More recent studies have found that there are in excess of 40 schools that have formal purchasing programs that award degrees at the baccalaureate or masters level or both.|2~ All these institutions strive to provide a quality education in purchasing to hundreds of students across the United States. Some of these programs are deemed more successful than others, and some are better known than others. Some programs attract the attention of corporate recruiters from across the country, some do not. What perceptual factors distinguish one purchasing program from another? What criteria are considered most important in creating the reputation of a program? Are there differences in perceptions held by academics and practitioners?

OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH

In January of 1992, a study was initiated at Arizona State University to answer these and other questions. An extensive questionnaire was mailed to 700 practicing purchasing managers and academics asking them to evaluate certain aspects of the current purchasing and materials management academic environment. The data bases for the survey mailing were two subsets of the large NAPM membership files. The first subset of potential respondents was taken from the NAPM membership list of "dues-free" members that were specifically linked to an academic institution. The second subset was simply a random sample of 100 practitioners categorized as class II members of NAPM--that is, middle managers.

The research team received 181 responses to the survey. Of the 181 responses, 138 completed questionnaires were usable for the analyses described in this article. The 138 responses were received from both practitioners and academics, with 34 coming from practitioners and 104 from academics. Respondents resided in 34 states and the District of Columbia, as profiled in Table I. The length of employment for all 138 respondents is graphically depicted in Figure 1.

FINDINGS

Rating Program Performance

A key question in the survey asked respondents to assess the usefulness of the following seven criteria in evaluating collegiate purchasing programs. The respondents were not asked to evaluate any particular college or university program using these criteria, but simply to indicate how important these criteria were to them in evaluating the reputation of a first-rate university or college purchasing program.

1. Reputation of the faculty

2. Research contribution of the institution to the field of purchasing

3. Quality of alumni encountered in the work place

4. Departmental reputation

5. Overall university reputation

6. Undergraduate curriculum

7. Graduate curriculum

Table I

DISTRIBUTION OF RESPONDENT LOCATIONS

         Percentage           Percentage           Percentage
             of                  of                  of
State    Responses    State   Responses    State   Responses

AL          1.4        IL        1.4        NM        1.4
AR          1. …