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Maximising “Community Benefits” in public procurement: tensions and trade-offs

Karen Lorraine Wontner (Department of Logistics and Operations Management, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Helen Walker (Department of Logistics and Operations Management, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Irina Harris (Department of Logistics and Operations Management, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Jane Lynch (Department of Logistics and Operations Management, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 6 October 2020

Issue publication date: 9 December 2020

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to illuminate the challenges involved in implementing community benefits (CBs), a sustainable public procurement policy that ensures that there are positive social and economic outcomes for the local community when public money is spent on goods, works and services.

Design/methodology/approach

Interviews and focus groups were conducted with public sector buyers and suppliers in Wales with experience in implementing CBs. Resource dependence theory was used to examine the extent to which dependence on resources effects CBs implementation.

Findings

Whilst the study confirms that implementation of CBs improves economic and social outcomes, there can also be challenges for public sector organisations and their constituent supply chains. These include tensions between CBs and other policies, differing views between buyers and suppliers, and the unintended consequences of promoting one form of CBs over another.

Research limitations/implications

The research found that Welsh Government influences the buyer-supplier dyad through regulatory and financial power. We elaborate on resource dependency theory by adding four constructs (powerful stakeholders, intra and inter organisational issues, challenges and enablers) to better understand the flows of power and resources in this research context.

Practical implications

Buyer and supplier practitioners and policymakers may find the factors leading to successful CBs implementation useful, such as ensuring closer communication and liaison at early contract stages.

Social implications

Community benefits are aimed at improving socioeconomic issues through public procurement.

Originality/value

This study addresses the need for research into how public sector organisations and suppliers seek to implement socio-economic sustainability measures, and the lack of research on CBs implementation to date. It is also novel in adopting a dyadic approach and a resource dependency perspective.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Economic and Social Research Council (ref 1369142), for funding this research.

Citation

Wontner, K.L., Walker, H., Harris, I. and Lynch, J. (2020), "Maximising “Community Benefits” in public procurement: tensions and trade-offs", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 40 No. 12, pp. 1909-1939. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-05-2019-0395

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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