Improving the Validity of public procurement research
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Improving the Validity of public procurement research

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Presentation to the 3 International Public Procurement Conference, Amsterdam, Auguist 2008.

Presentation to the 3 International Public Procurement Conference, Amsterdam, Auguist 2008.

Subsequently publish in International Journal of Public Sector Management

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Improving the Validity of public procurement research Improving the Validity of public procurement research Presentation Transcript

  • Improving the validity of public procurement research Dr J. Gordon Murray
  • Validity
    • “… a reliable item is not necessarily valid”
    • (Bell, 1993, p. 65)
    • “ validity is the extend to which the research findings accurately represent what is really happening”
    • (Hussey and Hussey, 1997, p. 57)
  • Introduction
    • Now accepted that public procurement is different from that of private sector
        • Journal of Public Procurement
        • Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management: Special Issue
        • International Public Procurement Conferences
        • IPSERA conference streams
        • International Research Study on Public Procurement
    • However, the fundamental uniqueness of pubic procurement is overlooked, namely, the role of politicians
    • Therefore, the validity of public procurement research may be weakened
  • Four significant political and procurement interfaces
    • Democratic accountability
    • Strategic procurement management
    • Principal/Agent relationship
    • Performance management
    • Ignoring the role of politicians in any one of these may weaken the research robustness
  • Democratic accountability
      • The pre-eminence of the ballot box
      • Advocacy
      • Accountability for decisions
      • Strategic ‘make or buy’ decisions frequently bypass procurement managers
    • Yet public procurement research key informant is the procurement manager!
  • Strategic procurement management
    • Politicians set the priorities for the public sector
    • Policies and strategic objectives should cascade to procurement
    • Lack of correlation between political priorities and those of procurement managers
    • Is public procurement dysfunctional, e.g. collaboration and socio-economic goals?
    • Is there a procurement skills deficient?
    • The key informant of public procurement research is the procurement manager!
  • Example from a tripartite survey of the perceived objectives of local government procurement Source: Murray, European Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management (2001)
  • Strategic procurement management
    • Politicians set the priorities for the public sector
    • Policies and strategic objectives should cascade to procurement
    • Lack of correlation between political priorities and those of procurement managers
    • Is public procurement dysfunctional, e.g. collaboration and socio-economic goals?
    • Is there a procurement skills deficient?
    • The key informant of public procurement research is the procurement manager!
  • Principal/Agent roles
    • Principal/Agent theory generally applied to buyer/supplier
    • Public procurement managers are the Agent of politicians
    • Are procurement managers queens, knights, knaves or pawns?
    • The key informant of public procurement research is the procurement manager!
  • Performance management
    • Little research on public procurement performance management
    • A procurement performance management system must measure the right things
    • Procurement's internal customers presented as internal departments
    • Are public procurement performance management systems reflecting the needs of political leadership?
    • The key informant of public procurement research is the procurement manager!
  • Portrayal of politicians in research
    • Concerned about image and votes
    • Public accountability is a hindrance to managers
    • Decide on conditions of contract and, initiating a purchase, supplier selection, and contract awards
    • Potentially distorting and corrupting
    • Causing delays and excessive costs
    • Working from untested anecdotal views may adversely affect the validity of public procurement research
  • Limitations of existing research methodologies
    • Key informants of empirical research are procurement professionals & therefore potential bias
    • Consequentially literature reviews have in-built bias
    • Scope of research carried over from private sector research ignoring the uniqueness of public procurement
    • Literature introspective
  • Snider & Rendon (2008) JoPP, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 316-317 and IPPC 2008 proceedings
    • “ A review of selected public procurement research reveals a tendency to treat the field in a way that distances it from ‘policy’ …[for example] portray public procurement as a tool, mechanism or lever for what [researchers] label as ‘policies’… however such policies could more precisely be labelled desired results which governments attempt to achieve through specific procurement policies”
  • Conclusions
    • Existing research overlooks the uniqueness of public procurement, the political interface
    • Politicians have major responsibilities for strategic procurement
    • Role of politicians is not fully understood and sometimes presented in a negative light
    • Existing research frequently suffers from in-built bias and lack of triangulation
    • We really don’t know enough about political procurement
    • Need to recognise the limitations of existing research may effect validity
  • To improve the validity of public procurement research
    • Recognise the significance of politicians in the context of public procurement
    • Be more critical of responses from procurement managers
    • Look for triangulation from other actors, particularly politicians
  • Questions for further research
    • What is the desired and optimal engagement of politicians in public procurement?
    • Do democratically elected representatives see procurement as a political tool?
    • Is procurement politically maximising its contribution?
    • Is public procurement an underused political tool?
    • What are the views of procurement managers regarding political leadership in procurement strategy?
    • Is there a difference between the procurement strategy of the political right or left?
  • Improving the validity of public procurement research Dr J. Gordon Murray [email_address]