This article presents a case study of the learning curve in a specialty chemicals business unit. Even though the learning curve literature has largely ignored the effects of purchasing, over 80 percent of the total cost reduction in this study was the result of raw material cost savings. The purpose of this article is to highlight the important role played by purchasing in the study of the learning curve. This study was conducted when the author was a business manager in the subject company which allowed for complete access to data, personnel, and company documents. This "insider's position" was a critical factor in uncovering the sources of cost reduction in this business unit.
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