Period 2: Growth of Purchasing Fundamentals (1900–1939)

The second period of purchasing evolution began around the turn of the twentieth century and lasted until the beginning of World War II. Articles specifically addressing the industrial purchasing function began appearing with increasing regularity outside the railroad trade journals. Engineering magazines in particular focused attention on the need for qualified purchasing personnel and the development of materials specifications.

This era also witnessed the development of basic purchasing procedures and ideas. In 1905, the second book devoted to purchasing—and the first no railroad purchasing book—was published. The Book on Buying contained 18 chapters, each written by a different author. The editors devoted the first section of the book to the “principles” of buying. The second section described the forms and procedures used in various company purchasing systems.

Purchasing gained importance during World War I because of its role in obtaining vital war materials. The central focus of purchasing during this period was on the procurement of raw material versus buying finished or semi finished goods. Ironically, the years during World War I did not feature publication of any major purchasing books. Harold T. Lewis, a respected purchasing professional during the 1930s through the 1950s, noted that there was considerable doubt about the existence of any general recognition of purchasing as being important to a company. Lewis noted that from World War I to 1945, at least a gradual, if uneven, recognition of the importance of sound procurement to company operation developed.

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