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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to introduce the special issue and outline its major themes and challenges, their relevance and the research opportunities the field presents. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reviews prior literature and outlines the need to view public procurement as a policy tool to introduce the contributions to this special issue. Findings – Public procurement has been consistently used to further public policies in a wide range of fields. The collection of articles in this special issue contributes to a broader understanding of the role and potential of public procurement in delivering desired policy outcomes in society. The articles show that public procurement largely has strategic aspirations, and its potential to deliver on wider societal issues is attractive to policy makers. The issues raised in this collection of articles, however, also demonstrate that public procurement often lacks strategic maturity and critical issues, notably around how to demonstrate and evaluate its impact and “success”. Research limitations/implications – This paper aims to stimulate interdisciplinary research into the role of public procurement as a policy tool and its ability to achieve public value. Originality/value – This paper discusses theoretical and empirical findings that highlight the importance of public procurement for achieving public value. The special issue examines the interdisciplinary literature on public procurement and shows how it is being used to achieve public value.
The collection of articles in this special issue contributes to a broader understanding of the role and potential of public procurement in delivering desired policy outcomes in society. Keulemans and Van De Walle provide insight into the rarely explored area of citizens’ preferences, and show that citizens want public procurement authorities to choose quality over price, recognising the wider societal “value” of these decisions. A challenge arising in how procurement choices are made is demonstrated by Lundberg and Bergman, who show that uncertainty of the quality of goods and services affects the relationship between price and quality weightings in tenders. As authorities’ selection criteria tend to be relatively fixed, and wider policy goals increase outcome uncertainty, public procurers need to explore how they can increase the flexibility of how they use the regulatory processes. The role of regulation is further explored in Ibrahim et al. in the context of Ghana. The authors provide evidence that legal and regulatory frameworks do not necessarily guarantee compliance and value for money, but, if complied with, could help in promoting accountability and value. Similarly, Storsjö et al. expose gaps between policy and practice in Finland. Their article shows that despite the policy on using public procurement to achieve goals regarding civil preparedness this does not mean that it is fully implemented. Patil and Krishna show that a developing country context increases the barriers to implementing public procurement policy, and in this case to the implementation of a policy on enhancing the participation of SMEs. Network relationships are another important issue identified by Mamavi et al. who find evidence that the strength of ties affects the chances that a company is awarded a contract.