Overall, experts from 57 companies were interviewed on key issues of the GEXSO study. All participants of the study have long-standing experience in supply chain positions within their respective industry sectors, e.g. as purchasing manager or logistics manager, etc. In cases where the expert position did not already imply an international focus, we posed international questions regarding supply chain management within the scope of projects. In order to maximize the knowledge gained, and not to influence the assessments of the experts, we used an exploratory approach (supported by an interview guideline) with open questions. Alternative answers by the experts were also taken into account. Afterwards, the answers were coded and analyzed using various statistical surveys and summarized.
For a better evaluation of suspected relations by GEXSO, the questionnaire was presented to experts from different companies within the industry component manufacturing sector, the automotive supplier industry and the machinery and plant engineering sector. In order to determine suitable and competent participants, contact persons were researched thoroughly and then contacted individually over the phone or online. Sources of information for the research were participant data from previous studies, customer data, membership lists of unions and associations, profile pages on the Internet, and articles and publications on the topic “supply chain management and technology change”. The questionnaire was distributed via several channels of communication (online, as electronic data or via post). Furthermore, we offered structured personal and phone interviews to the participants. Approximately 90 per cent of the experts were interviewed personally or over the phone. With a response rate of 17 per cent, we compiled 57 fully completed questionnaires for evaluation.
Methods of the study
In addition to a qualitative cluster analysis of the expert interviews, the results of the questionnaire were analyzed employing quantitative, statistical methods. This enabled us to measure all previously determined factors generated during the expert interviews with high degree of quality. In order to scale the appropriated indicators, we generally used a 6-level Likert scale, providing possible values between “not applicable” and “fully applicable”. Although we were not able to test expert interviews in a holistic causal model, we examined them employing a correlation analysis. The applied models are based on existing models that are recognized in literature and already applied in other contexts. For instance, the term “globalization degree” is based on a model by Christopher Bartlett and Sumantra Goshal and measured with the aid of specific company characteristics.