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Introducing a disruptive service innovation: a national dilemma in E-Procurement

Juan Carlos Barahona (INCAE Business School, Alajuela, Costa Rica)
Andrey M. Elizondo (INCAE Business School, Alajuela, Costa Rica)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 14 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to illustrate a unique opportunity to analyze the implications of two different approaches to develop and deploy a national public electronic procurement system.


The authors used multiple data collection methods. The data were collected from 2009 to 2013 from primary sources, studies, consulting work, seminars, official documents and the written press. The structure includes a teaching case, a teaching note and a discussion on the potential of case research as a powerful method to elicit valuable insights and knowledge creation.


The research shows that literature on E-Procurement and E-Government is oblivious to the disruptive character of this technology in public administration. This case allows the discussion on the consequences of this omission for the success of E-Procurement implementations. Lessons drawn are extendable to other E-Government ventures.

Practical implications

Despite multiple stakeholder views and a long and difficult debate among different technical platforms, the underlying problem remains unnoticed. The authors show that decisions on E-Procurement implementations should also consider organizational design and adoption of innovation strategies. By re-framing the problem, much of the complexity of the decision disappears.


Many nations around the world are developing or revamping their National Public E-Procurement Systems, this parsimonious account of a complex decision allows for the exploration and discussion of the various complexities surrounding technological innovations in public management and brings light to a critical and mostly ignore success factor associated with the choice on the implementation and operational model.



The authors would like to thank Alicia Avendaño from the Digital Government Division of the I.C.E. Group for her support and approval of this case. The authors also thank Edgar Ayala, former Minister of Treasury of Costa Rica for his valuable insights at a critical moment of this research.


Carlos Barahona, J. and M. Elizondo, A. (2014), "Introducing a disruptive service innovation: a national dilemma in E-Procurement", Management Decision, Vol. 52 No. 9, pp. 1782-1800.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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