I have just read the paper C Mason & J Meehan, ‘Collaborative public procurement: institutional explanations of legitimised resistance’ (2016) 22 Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, forthcoming [a draft preliminary version of the paper is available on SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2152740].
The paper focuses on the very operational and subjective reasons that can lead practitioners involved in collaborative or centralised procurement to resist the roll-out of these innovative procurement strategies. I found their findings regarding financial reporting implications and job security particularly relevant because they bring home a reality bite that we need to incorporate into legal research if we are worried about the effectiveness of the rules we create.
In the rather more technical terms of the abstract:
The paper explores the barriers to regional collaborative public procurement. It reports the results of an empirical study of five public sector authorities in the emergency services sector in the UK. Exploring the barriers to collaborative procurement through the lens of institutional theory we frame the inter- and intra-organizational strategic resistant responses to isomorphic pressures. The study took a multi-stakeholder approach involving 70 individuals spanning budget holders, operational managers, procurement, and finance across 30 spend workstreams. The results show that operational barriers to collaborative procurement persist at national, regional, organizational and individual levels. While these barriers are used overtly as the rational defence, covert strategic responses of institutional logics, protectionism and symbolic tick-boxing legitimize stakeholder resistance to numerous isomorphic forces and further entrench the operational barriers. The findings contribute to an understanding of choice mechanisms in public procurement research by exploring where, and why, tensions and conflicts occur in collaborative public procurement strategies, both within, and between, organizations. The study contributes to, and addresses a central issue in institutional theory: identifying the social processes embedded in rational decision-making processes. By focusing on different internal stakeholder perceptions and their motivations, we add to current thinking on how organizations create internal power and agency structures through institutional logics to legitimize their actions. The results highlight the criticality of understanding underpinning motivation in behaviour in institutional theory and the links between operational and strategic processes. From an applied perspective, the research highlights that failure to provide sufficient evidence while applying pressure at a political level leads to tick-box approaches to collaborative procurement risking long-term damage and sub-optimized performance.
It is definitely well worth a read.