Improving the validity of public procurement research Dr J. Gordon Murray
Validity <ul><li>“…  a reliable item is not necessarily valid”  </li></ul><ul><li>(Bell, 1993, p. 65)  </li></ul><ul><li>“...
Introduction <ul><li>Now accepted that public procurement is different from that of private sector </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><...
Four significant political and procurement interfaces <ul><li>Democratic accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic procur...
Democratic accountability <ul><ul><li>The pre-eminence of the ballot box </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advocacy  </li></ul></...
Strategic procurement management <ul><li>Politicians set the priorities for the public sector  </li></ul><ul><li>Policies ...
Example from a tripartite survey of the perceived objectives of local government procurement   Source: Murray, European Jo...
Strategic procurement management <ul><li>Politicians set the priorities for the public sector  </li></ul><ul><li>Policies ...
Principal/Agent roles <ul><li>Principal/Agent theory generally applied to buyer/supplier </li></ul><ul><li>Public procurem...
Performance management <ul><li>Little research on public procurement performance management </li></ul><ul><li>A procuremen...
Portrayal of politicians in research <ul><li>Concerned about image and votes </li></ul><ul><li>Public accountability is a ...
Limitations of existing research methodologies <ul><li>Key informants of empirical research are procurement professionals ...
Snider & Rendon (2008) JoPP, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 316-317 and IPPC 2008 proceedings   <ul><li>“ A review of selected public ...
Conclusions <ul><li>Existing research overlooks the uniqueness of public procurement, the political interface </li></ul><u...
To improve the validity of public procurement research  <ul><li>Recognise the significance of politicians in the context o...
Questions for further research <ul><li>What is the desired and optimal engagement of politicians in public procurement? </...
Improving the validity of public procurement research Dr J. Gordon Murray [email_address]
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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.

Subsequently publish in International Journal of Public Sector Management

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Improving the Validity of public procurement research

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

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