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Is public procurement efficiency conditioned by market types? A critical test in park and road sectors in Sweden

Ylva Norén Bretzer (School of Public Administration, Goteborgs universitet, Goteborg, Sweden)
Bengt Persson (Institutionen för landskapsarkitektur, planering och förvaltning, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet (SLU), Alnarp, Sweden)
Thomas Barfoed Randrup (Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet, Uppsala, Sweden)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 11 July 2016




The purpose of this paper is to investigate to what extent contracting out practices has led to perceived resource cuts in the Swedish park and road sectors.


E-survey sent to managers in park and technical departments in the municipalities. Response rate: 39.7 percent.


Decreased costs were found in 25 percent of the responding road departments, in 20 percent of park departments. 49 percent of the road departments responded “no change” or “increase” (48 percent parks). Findings indicate that tendering practices tend to be most commonly centered in Swedish municipalities situated in the three metropolitan regions (Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö with suburbs), while such practices are not as common in mid-sized and rural municipalities. In addition, contracting out practices correspond with higher per capita budgets, not with smaller.

Research limitations/implications

The research implications are that contracting out tend to occur “where the resources are,” while poorer municipalities either have to contract even if it is more expensive, or, contracting out is combined with other provision models. The limitation of the data are that it based on managers’ perceptions, while hard data have been impossible to map.

Practical implications

The uniform assumption that contracting out saves public resources need to be conditioned with context, and initial resources at hand. Contracting out is one option among several possible strategies, especially for mid-sized and smaller municipalities with small budgets.

Social implications

The rationalities of local government procurements are bounded by the local market situations and local the budget capacities.


This is the first study of manager’s perceptions in the Swedish park and road contexts.



The authors want to thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. The authors would also like to thank the Project Leader, Assistant Professor Andrej Christian Lindholst from the Department of Political Science in Aalborg, for providing us with data. Additional thanks go to Professor Morten Balle Hansen. The authors are deeply indebted to Research Assistant Johanna Selin for the detailed and responsible help INOPS received at the final stages of the project. Thank you for all the telephone calls and documentation! Data for this paper were collected as part of a larger research project (INOPS – “innovations in public-private relations”) which has been cofinanced by Hedeselskabet Strategy & Innovation and Aalborg University, Denmark.


Bretzer, Y.N., Persson, B. and Randrup, T.B. (2016), "Is public procurement efficiency conditioned by market types? A critical test in park and road sectors in Sweden", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 488-501.



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