Beyond purchasing skills

What are the desired personality traits of a PSM professional?

  • Vojtech Klézl Örebro University
  • Stephen Kelly Edge Hill University
  • Klaas Stek University of Twente


What are the desired personality traits of a buyer?
Over the past few years, there has been an increased academic interest in skills required by purchasing and supply chain (PSM) professionals (e.g., Bals et al., 2019). To provide another perspective to this debate, we analyzed ads for PSM positions. In the process, we noticed that the postings usually require the candidate to possess certain personality traits (74.7% of postings), which has been overlooked in the extant literature. Thus, we aim to assess what personality traits are required from PSM professionals, and how do these personality traits differ across the hierarchical levels.
In total, 432 PSM job postings in the Czech Republic were collected and examined based on the hierarchy (junior buyer, buyer, senior buyer and purchasing manager). On average, the job posting contained 8.97 codes (skills or traits) and 1.69 personal traits. The Big five personality traits model (Barrick & Mount, 1991) was used to split the traits in five groups – agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extraversion, and openness to experience. We found that the conscientiousness was a dominant trait group for the PSM jobs, appearing in more than a half of the postings with skills such as independency, responsibility, compliance, and disk aversion. This is followed by openness to experience appearing almost in quarter of the postings (23.38 %), agreeableness (19.68 %), extraversion (17.59 %), and emotional stability (13.19 %). Using chi-square test, we also find that the postings for junior buyer (87.1 %) are more likely to feature a personal trait than the more senior position (72.3%), which led us to argue that personality traits are more important for the hiring company when hiring juniors, as the purchasing related skills can be learned on the job. However, the overall composition of personality traits within an ad is only marginally different across the different levels of seniority – only statistically significant difference is that conscientiousness is even more required from junior buyers.
In conclusion, we find a new, previously underexplored research opportunity in covering the personality traits required from PSM professionals. We also find the most commonly expected traits, as well as find significantly different requirements for junior and higher level professionals.

9.1 Issues in Contemporary Supply Chain Management