Quality Risk in Outsourcing: Noncontractible Product Quality and Private Quality Cost Information
Naval Research Logistics, Vol. 56, pp. 669–685, 2009
17 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2008 Last revised: 14 Oct 2017
Date Written: April 1, 2008
This paper addresses the concept of quality risk in outsourcing. Recent trends in outsourcing extend a contract manufacturer's (CM's) responsibility to several functional areas such as research and development and design in addition to manufacturing. This trend enables an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to focus on sales and pricing of its product. However, increasing CM responsibilities also suggest that the OEM's product quality is mainly determined by its CM. We identify two factors that cause quality risk in this outsourcing relationship. First, the CM and the OEM may not be able to contract on quality; second, the OEM may not know the cost of quality to the CM. We characterize the effects of these two quality risk factors on the firms' profits and on the resulting product quality. We determine how the OEM's pricing strategy affects quality risk. We show, for example, that the effect of noncontractible quality is higher than the effect of private quality cost information when the OEM sets the sales price after observing the product's quality. We also show that committing to a sales price mitigates the adverse effect of quality risk. To obtain these results, we develop and analyze a three-stage decision model. This model is also used to understand the impact of recent information technologies on profits and product quality. For example, we provide a decision tree that an OEM can use in deciding whether to invest in an enterprise-wide quality management system that enables accounting of quality related activities across the supply chain.
Keywords: quality risk, quality effort, outsourcing, contracting, quality management, supply chain management
JEL Classification: C72, D82, L15, L23, M11
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