Site updated 11/3/13
Purchasing and Supply Management
- Prior to 1900 — Purchasing was recognized
as an independent function by many railroad organizations.
- Prior to World War I (1914-1918) —
Purchasing was regarded as primarily clerical.
- During World War I (1914-1918) and World
War II (1939-1945) — Function increased due to the
importance of obtaining raw materials, supplies, and
services needed to keep the factories and mines operating.
- During 1950s and 1960s — Purchasing
continued to gain stature as the techniques for performing
the function became more refined and as the number of
trained professionals increased. The emphasis became more
- During 1970s and 1980s — More emphasis
was placed on purchasing strategy as the ability to obtain
needed items from suppliers at realistic prices increased.
- During 1990s — Purchasing became more
integrated into the overall corporate strategy.
- Current — The field is experiencing
increasing integration with supply networks and information
technology. The field has changed from "purchasing" to
"supply management" to reflect the transition from a
transaction-based, tactical function to a process-oriented,