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Public procurement capabilities as engines for collaboration and enhanced performance in complex projects

Juliana Bonomi Santos (FGV EAESP, São Paulo, Brazil)
Sandro Cabral (Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa (Insper), São Paulo, Brazil)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 30 November 2021

Issue publication date: 3 January 2022




This paper explores how public buyers' capabilities promote collaboration with private suppliers to obtain enhanced performance in complex projects.


The authors conducted two case studies on the procurement of complex military projects by the Brazilian armed forces involving public buyers and private suppliers. The authors followed the Gioia methodology to inductively analyze data from interviews, official documents, media articles and project meeting notes.


The authors identified public procurement capabilities that are antecedents of collaborative trust-based relationships with suppliers in complex public-private projects. The authors unpack these capabilities in three subsets: abilities to manage the bidding and contracting process, to handle relationships with prominent stakeholders, such as audit control bodies and to manage knowledge acquired within and across current and past projects. By developing these capabilities, public buyers can build collaborative trust-based relationships with suppliers, which enable the conciliation of operational performance (i.e. on-time delivery, budget and scope compliance) and policy goals (i.e. inclusion of local suppliers in supply chains).


The authors extend the literature on the enablers of trust and collaboration in buyer-supplier relationships by providing a detailed account of which capabilities are necessary on the buyer side in complex projects, especially when accountability standards create barriers for collaborative practices. The authors also reinforce the importance of the operations and supply chain management scholarship in policy debates by showing how buyer-supplier interactions can create value in complex projects with public and private sectors.



Juliana Bonomi Santos gratefully acknowledges financial support from CNPq and Instituto Pandiá Calógeras in the form of a research grant (Grant number: 471637-2014-9). The authors also would like to thank Dr. Leonardo Marques for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript and the collaboration of participating public bodies, firms, and industry specialists.


Santos, J.B. and Cabral, S. (2022), "Public procurement capabilities as engines for collaboration and enhanced performance in complex projects", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 32-58.



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