IPSERA in Milan

In April I attended the 28th International IPSERA conference in Milan, Italy. I presented a paper written with Dr Peter Kruyen (Radboud University Nijmegen) that reported the results from a research into > 140.000 public procurement notices of Belgian contracting authorities.

The nature and extent of sustainable procurement is perceived to vary greatly, but little is actually known about the uptake of SPP and how it varies. Using text mining techniques over 140.000 procurement contract notices (published between 2011 and 2016) from Belgian public contracting authorities were explored to examine the current state of sustainable procurement, and identify patterns in the level and nature of attention for sustainability. Most notably we found that attention for sustainability increased and then decreased over time, focused on environmental sustainability, and varied between regions within Belgium. The paper was short listed for the best Public Procurement paper.


Erasmus Bachelor Open Day

If you are looking for a bachelor programme that learns you to look beyond borders and contribute to managing social challenges, such as climate change, migration, economic stability, and international crime, the Bachelor Management of International Social Challenges (MISOC) at Erasmus University Rotterdam might be the right choice for you.

On February 16th 2019 the Erasmus University Rotterdam is hosting another Bachelor Open Day where prospective students and their parents/guardians can join presentations about all of our bachelor programmes. Between sessions current students, alumni and staff are here to answer any questions you may have. And you can explore our campus or get to know the city of Rotterdam during a guided tour.

As program director of the MISOC bachelor programme I will be there to give several general introductions to the programme. However, you can also join an the in-depth lecture or ask our current students about their experiences with the MISOC programme and student life in Rotterdam.

You can register for the Bachelor Open Day here: bachelor open day. Or read more about the MISOC bachelor programme here: MISOC bachelor programme.


Plenary Speaker

The 10th EcoProcura Conference is from 3 – 5 October 2018 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The EcoProcura conference series started in 1998 as a European-wide forum to promote exchange and dialogue among purchasers from all levels of government, suppliers, policy-makers and multipliers on strategies and the latest practical solutions on sustainable, circular, and innovation procurement.

The conference will bring together over 400 procurers, policy makers, businesses, researchers and international organisations from all over Europe in Nijmegen to discuss the latest developments in sustainable and innovation procurement, such as:

  • Current best practice in implementation
  • European policy developments and international initiatives
  • Opportunities for collaboration between procurers in Europe
  • Practical tools for implementation (circular procurement, life cycle costing, monitoring, e-Procurement)
  • Market dialogue, joint procurement, social issues, professionalisation of procurement

At the EcoProcura conference I will be giving a plenary speech on organisational culture and behavioral change in the implementation of sustainable public procurement. Making procurement more sustainable can be challenging, but actors such as procurers can make a real difference. In this speech I will discuss the role of actors, such as procurers in making procurement more sustainable, as well as the mechanisms that affect them.

You can read more about the conference programme here and register for the conference here.



EUR Fellowship

I am happy to announce that I have been awarded an EUR Fellowship.

Every year, Erasmus University Rotterdam offers ten talented young researchers the opportunity to carry out research for a couple of years with a EUR Fellowship. This way, the Erasmus University hopes to encourage people to opt for a career in academic research and seeks to keep talented researchers in the university by offering a funding scheme. During the annual Talentday the EUR Fellowships the ten laureates of an EUR Fellowship were honored. You can read more about the 10 researchers and their projects that received an EUR Fellowship in 2018 here: EUR Fellowship 2018. You can also watch this informative video about the different projects:

The EUR Fellowship thus enables me to conduct a two year study into the procurement of care by municipalities. Nowadays, Dutch municipalities are responsible for the provision of youth and home care. To provide clients with such care, municipalities procure goods and services – walkers or dyslexia training, for example – from healthcare providers. A well-designed procurement process allows municipalities to improve their performance when it comes to providing this care. I am going to examine which factors inform municipalities’ decisions in the procurement process and how this affects their performance in the provision of care.



Big data analysis in Belgium

Public procurement represents 14% of gross national product in the European Union and thus has considerable economic potential to make public organizations as a whole more environmentally
friendly, more innovative and socially and ethically responsible.  Since 2005, various Belgian government agencies have explored the possibilities for sustainable public procurement and have developed relevant policies. Research however shows that the nature and extent of sustainable procurement varies greatly.

Dr. Peter Kruyen and I were therefore asked by the Federal Institute for Sustainable Development to systematically analyse public procurement notices and specifications  and determine to what extent and how Belgian public procurers pay attention to sustainable procurement in the public procurement notices and contract specifications and identify patterns and best practices therein.

We were given access to the E-notifcation platform, which contained over 140.000 procurement notices that were published between 2011 and 2016. We examined all these notices to determine the level and extent of sustainable procurement in Belgium. Using automated coding techniques with the software program R we were able to assess the current state of sustainable procurement and show patterns that emerge in the level and nature of attention for sustainability in public procurement.

We presented our results in Brussels on January the 12th of 2018. An English or Dutch version of the report can be downloaded here and a French version here




Book chapter on Public Procurement in Europe published

Last month “The Palgrave Handbook of Public Administration and Management in Europe”  edited by Edoardo Ongaro and Sandra van Thiel was published.

This Handbook offers a systematic review of state-of-the-art knowledge on public administration in Europe. Covering the theoretical, epistemological and practical aspects of the field, it focuses on how public administration operates and is studied in European countries. In sixty-three chapters, written by leading scholars, this Handbook considers the uniqueness of the European situation through an interdisciplinary and comparative lens, focusing on the administrative diversity which results from the multiplicity of countries, languages, schools of thought and streams of investigation across Europe. It addresses issues such as multi-level administration and governance, intensive cross country cooperation in administrative reform policy, and public accountability under different systems. It also considers the issue of welfare service delivery, at a time of major economic and societal challenges, as well as understudied emerging issues like the dynamics of public sector negotiations.

In this handbook I wrote a chapter on public procurement in Europe. In the European Union over 2,50,000 public authorities spend around 14% of GDP procuring goods, services, and works. Being the biggest spender in the EU allows public organisations to use their procurement to apply leverage to certain policy objectives. Despite the massive impact that public procurement has on the market, economy, public organisations, citizens, and businesses, it has neither been recognised within public administration research as an important policy instrument, nor has it matured into an academic field (yet). This chapter therefore seeks to shed light on public procurement as a key topic within the field of public administration in Europe, by discussing what it is, what distinguishes it from private procurement, and how it evolved as a management function into a policy tool.

You can purchase a copy of the entire handbook here or a copy of my chapter here.



Call for abstracts

At the XXII IRSPM annual conference, from 11 – 13 April 2018 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, I am organizing a panel on Big Data Research in Public Administration with dr. Peter M. Kruyen (Radboud University Nijmegen) and prof. dr. Alfred T. Ho.

Practitioners are increasingly using big data analytics to develop smarter policies, improve service provision, and advance internal (business) processes. In a similar vein, big data analytics has the potential to advance the discipline of public administration too. However, in analyzing (very) big data sets, public administration scholars face technical, ethical and methodological challenges that are unique to big data research. These challenges include, but are not limited to, problems with access and safe storage of the data, capacity building constraints to deal with new hardware and programming needs, the need for cross-departmental and cross-sectoral collaboration in data strategies, the need to address different data analysis and visualization needs for different stakeholders, privacy concerns, data quality and self-selection biases, and a need for policymakers, citizens, and key stakeholders to consider the end purposes, underpinning values, and ownership of Big Data.

Our panel aims to bring together public administration scholars that research big data sets—let’s say, n > 100.000—to discuss the potentials and challenges of big-data research methods for public administration. We welcome papers on any topic that explore, use, or discuss:

  • Data (eco)systems, such as Hadoop, Spark, and ElasticSearch;
  • Data mining techniques (e.g. text-, multimedia- or process mining);
  • The Internet of Things (e.g., data collected using mobile phone apps and sensors);
  • Cluster techniques for large datasets (e.g. frequent item-set analysis);
  • Machine-learning   algorithms;
  • Privacy and security management of Big Data;
  • The limitations of existing data and the implications for policymaking and management;
  • Ethical concerns and value questions of Big Data;
  • The known and potential “evils” of Big Data in the public and nonprofit sector;
  • Implications of Big Data for democratic governance and socio-economic development;
  • New governance thinking to facilitate the proper use of Big

The common denominator in our panel will be the research of big datasets in the field of public administration. The panel will provide participants the opportunity to share their experiences and solutions regarding big data research and discuss potential collaborations (e.g., an edited volume). This panel is our first step towards establishing a global network of public administration scholars with a strong interest in big data analytics.

The deadline for submitting abstracts for our panel (17. Big Data Research) at the IRSPM 2018 Conference is 20 October 2017. You can find more information about the conference and submit your abstracts here:


New Job!

Good news! As of May first I am back at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam at the Department of Public Administration and Sociology.

As a lecturer I will be teaching and coordinating the Public Administration Bachelor and a Public Management Master programme as well as a number of courses in the Public Administration Bachelor and Master.  I will, of course, also continue my research into public procurement and sustainable procurement. You can find my new contact details under the ‘contact’ header.


Special Issue now online

Dr. Joanne Meehan and I have edited a special issue on public procurement as a policy tool for the International Journal of Public Sector Management (IJSPM).

The special issue will be published as Volume 30 Issue 4 and is available online now.

In the European Union the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are trying to fuel this development with their new procurement directives. However, despite the increased recognition of the potential of public procurement as a policy tool for reaching desired outcomes in society, it remains an understudied topic in public sector management. Little is known about how procurement is implemented, how successful it is, what factors and actors determine its effectiveness and success, and how public procurers deal with the (often conflicting) goals that they have to combine in their procurement. This special issue tries to shed some light into the usage of public procurement as a policy tool by examining the concept from different angles

This special issue of IJPSM presents six articles on public procurement. Despite their common topic, they come from different disciplinary backgrounds (public administration, economics, international business), from different continents Europe, Africa and Asia (and countries: Netherlands, France, Finland, India, Sweden, and Ghana), and use both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The six papers examine different assumptions underlying the use of public procurement as a policy tool.

The special issue starts with our introduction article titled “Public Procurement as a policy tool: using procurement to reach desired outcomes in society“.

The article by Sofia Lundberg and Mats Bergman titled “Tendering design when price and quality is uncertain” shows that choosing a tendering design is not as black and white as choosing between price and quality.

Shelena Keulemans and Steven Van De Walle’s paper titled “Cost-effectiveness, domestic favoritism and sustainability in public procurement: a comparative study of public preferences” examines whether citizens actually prefer their government to use public procurement as a policy tool.

Isabell Storsjö and Hlekiwe Kachali examine if and how the goals of two separate policies, innovation and civil-preparedness, are met  in their article titled “Public procurement for innovation and civil preparedness: a policy-practice gap.

The article by Olivier Mamavi, Olivier Meier, and Romain Zerbib titled “How do strategic networks influence awarding contracts? Evidence from French public procurement” also examines the procurement practice and its influencing factors but specifically looks into the networks in contract award procedures.

Many studies into public procurement focus on European or Western countries. We are therefore very pleased to include two articles in the special issue that examine findings and assumptions from Western public procurement studies in a different context. The article by Mohammed Ibrahim, Justice Nyigmah Bawole, Theresa Obuobisa-Darko, Abdul-Bassit Abubakar, and Anthony Sumnaya Kumasey titled “The Legal Regime and the Compliance Façade in Public Procurement in Ghana” examines the procurement practice in Ghana.

The last article, by Kapil Patil titled “Government Procurement Policy for Small & Medium Enterprises in Developing Countries: Evidence from India”, examines public procurement in another developing country and also contributes to a better understanding of the implementation of small- and medium sized enterprise (SME) oriented procurement practices.

You can find and download the entire special issue here: special issue public procurement 


New Research Project

This month dr. Peter Kruyen and I have started a new research project for the Belgian Federal Government. Using big data analyse techniques we will analyse tender documents to determine the degree of sustainable procurement in the Belgian Public Sector. More information about this project can be found under the header “sustainable procurement research”.