This research addresses a gap in the current literature by examining the differences between the process of purchasing services and the process of purchasing materials. Four hypotheses concerning the possible differences were developed based on a review of the relevant literature. These hypotheses were then tested using qualitative focus studies and a quantitative survey involving 82 purchasing managers with an average of 9.8 years' purchasing experience. Also, 14 interviews were conducted with purchasing executives to gain a better understanding of perceived differences. The results indicate that perceived differences exist between the processes of purchasing services and purchasing materials, especially in terms of the complexity of these processes. These perceived differences vary by the number of years of purchasing experience and the type of purchasing experience (services versus materials). Fifteen individual process steps were examined to determine the exact nature of the differences between these two processes. Managerial and research implications are discussed throughout the article.
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