Public Procurement and Innovation

Public Procurement and Innovation

The Role of Institutions

Max Rolfstam

Max Rolfstam examines the increasing emphasis on public procurement as a means to stimulate innovation and the theoretical implications of this policy development. While ‘regular’ public procurement may be regarded as the outcome of anonymous market processes, public procurement of innovation must be understood as a special case of innovation, where social processes, and consequently the institutions governing these social processes, need to be considered. This book contributes to our understanding with a detailed institutional analysis of the public procurement of innovation.

Chapter 7: Success factors for public procurement of innovation

Max Rolfstam

Subjects: business and management, public management, innovation and technology, innovation policy, politics and public policy, public administration and management


The initial empirical chapters of this book consisted of single-case studies. Chapter 6 then compared two cases. To complete the spectrum of possible case study designs there follows here a discussion based on eight cases. Looking at a set of cases of public procurement of innovation, each evolving in a specific context with a different degree of success, helps one to ‘understand the similarities and differences between the cases’ (Baxter and Jack, 2008, p. 550). Such an analysis could mimic Daniel’s (1961) collection of success factors, in his case for remedying the information crisis prevailing among expanding American firms in the middle of the twentieth century. In a similar spirit, by comparing eight cases of public procurement of innovation, the current chapter explores to what extent it is possible to establish a set of success factors for public procurement of innovation projects. The notion of ‘success factors’ might to some appear somewhat popular and simplistic, and therefore deserves some elaboration. ‘Success factors’ in this context are understood as conditions that if met in a particular case appear to work to contribute to the success of public procurement of innovation projects. These conditions can be established by the public procurer, any other stakeholders beyond the control of the public procurers, or, expressed in general terms, the context. Success factors have in that sense a dual role. In the same way as Boolean variables, they may, if met, increase the expectations of success for a project. They may also work to reduce the chances for success if they are not met.

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