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Framing sustainability in public procurement by typologizing sustainability indicators – the case of Switzerland

Sebastian Knebel (Faculty of Communication Sciences, Universita Della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland)
Peter Seele (Faculty of Communication Sciences, Universita Della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland)

Journal of Public Procurement

ISSN: 1535-0118

Article publication date: 3 June 2021

Issue publication date: 8 July 2021

218

Abstract

Purpose

Sustainable public procurement (SPP) lacks common means for its operationalization within legislative latitudes. Through the translation of sustainability indicators (SIs) from CSR and corporate sustainability reporting into the needs of SPP, this paper aims to support the framing process of sustainability in public procurement. This paper does so along with the case of Switzerland.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper performs a typological analysis of well-established SIs from CSR reporting to propose a criteria framework for SPP. Second, this paper tests the framework’s usability and feasibility with an expert online survey conducted in the Swiss SPP landscape.

Findings

This paper proposes 10 generic criteria to frame the operationalization of SPP. Furthermore, public procurement experts from Switzerland evaluate the SPP framework as useful and feasible.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of the study can be seen in its deductive approach. Thus, it rather complements recent inductive approaches of SPP type and frame developments than replacing them. Future studies can further refine the understanding and operationalization of sustainability in public procurement.

Practical implications

The generic SPP criteria framework provides a common ground for the operationalization of SPP building on existing sustainability performance measurement knowledge and a frame to operationalize sustainability measurements for public tender processes.

Social implications

Implementing sustainability in public procurement potentially changes market behaviors globally toward social equality and minimization of climate change impacts. This research aims to support the SPP implementation process.

Originality/value

To the best knowledge, this is the first attempt to directly translate established SIs from sustainability reporting into public procurement to frame SPP and to use existing sustainability measurement knowledge for its operationalization and harmonization.

Keywords

Citation

Knebel, S. and Seele, P. (2021), "Framing sustainability in public procurement by typologizing sustainability indicators – the case of Switzerland", Journal of Public Procurement, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 119-137. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOPP-09-2020-0066

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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