Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Increased globalization and diversity has brought with it unique interdependencies. As we experience demographical shifts unlike any other in U.S. history, the growth rate of minority-owned businesses may represent unprecedented opportunity for corporate buyers to partner with minority suppliers. According to the Minority Business Development Agency, the minority population will represent 37.4 percent of the total U.S. population by the year 2020, and will yield purchasing power of $3 trillion. Moreover, it is estimated that between the years 2000 and 2050 the majority of new business starts will originate in the minority business community (U.S. Small Business Administration 1994). Minority-owned firms grew from 7 percent of all U.S. firms to 15 percent between 1982 and 1997. These changes have implications for the corporate supply chain, and relationships with minority suppliers have become increasingly important.

Supplier diversity is defined as a proactive business process that seeks to provide all suppliers equal access to supply management opportunities (NAPM, InfoEdge 2001). Supplier diversity programs have been used by firms for over 30 years, yet few minority suppliers have found their way into mainstream processes. One research study found major impediments in supplier diversity programs (Dollinger & Dailey 1989). For example, minority suppliers face higher transaction costs, experience difficulty in dealing with complex bureaucracy, and sometimes had to deal in a hostile environment. Other studies have found major problems with communication (Krause et al. 1999; Kauffman 2001) and commitment (Krause et al. 1999; Carter et al. 1999). Past research has also emphasized the important role of corporate culture for implementing supplier diversity programs (Min 1999; Carter et al. 1999).

This dissertation examines the relationship between corporate culture and supplier diversity effectiveness. The study examines how buyer's attitudes towarddiversity influence spending levels with diverse suppliers. The general hypothesis is that organizations that have constructive cultures for diversity will have higher levels of spending in supplier diversity programs. The research was conducted using a sample from 250 buyers within a large U.S. heavy-equipment manufacturing firm. The research involved collecting attitudinal data using an Internet-mediated survey questionnaire. Effectiveness was measured based on total spending with minority suppliers and was collected using semi-structured interviewing and archival research.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access