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Public procurement vs private purchasing: Is there any foundation for comparing and learning across the sectors?

Jan Stentoft Arlbjørn (Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management, University of Southern Denmark, Kolding, Denmark)
Per Vagn Freytag (Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management, University of Southern Denmark, Kolding, Denmark)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 30 March 2012

Abstract

Purpose

Compared with the private sector, the public sector's procurement process differs in several respects. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the possibility for mutual learning and the value between the public and private sectors and also to identify both drivers and barriers for benchmarks between the two sectors.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on in‐depth literature reviews of comparisons between private and public procurements. The paper is, furthermore, derived from two case studies: one in a chain perspective and another that concerns public‐private innovation.

Findings

Extant literature contains limited contributions that compare public procurement practice with private purchasing practice. Using tendering to regulate procurement is troublesome and may hamper the possibility to learn and gain value measured on a broader scale. Wider collaboration may provide more possibilities to learn and gain value.

Research limitations/implications

The empirical part of the paper rests on two case studies. The procurement process of a single item has been studied as have new cooperation modes between the public and private sectors.

Practical implications

The paper provides supply chain management (staff) input as to examples in which comparisons of procurement and purchasing processes might add value. The paper argues that both sectors can learn from each other.

Originality/value

This paper is the first report about an in‐depth literature review of comparisons of public procurement with private purchase, and it is the first to empirically analyze a chain of relations from private‐private to private‐public. It further addresses new ways to perceive the EU Directive of public tendering.

Keywords

Citation

Stentoft Arlbjørn, J. and Vagn Freytag, P. (2012), "Public procurement vs private purchasing: Is there any foundation for comparing and learning across the sectors?", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 203-220. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513551211226539

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited