Abstract Business organisations are going through rapid external environmental and internal organisational changes due to increasing globalisation, E-business, and outsourcing. As a result, the future of purchasing and supply management—as a function within organisations, as a process that spans organisation boundaries and as a profession—raises important concerns for both organisations and the purchasing professional. This paper considers a broad and rather fragmented body of empirical evidence and analyses 42 relevant empirical studies on the future of purchasing and supply management. The major findings are reported in terms of changes in business contexts, purchasing strategy, structure, role and responsibility, system development and skills. Cross-sectional comparative analyses were also conducted to examine variation by sector, firm type, people's roles in purchasing, and country. A number of major implications for the purchasing function, process and professional bodies are presented together with suggestions for future research to address significant gaps in the current body of knowledge.