A lifecycle analysis of complex public procurement: an agency-institutional theory perspective

Forster, Rick, Lyons, Andrew, Caldwell, Nigel, Davies, Jennifer and Sharifi, Hossein (2024) A lifecycle analysis of complex public procurement: an agency-institutional theory perspective. International Journal of Operations & Production Management. ISSN 0144-3577


Purpose: The study sets out to demonstrate how a lifecycle perspective on complex, public-sector procurement projects can be used for making qualitative assessments of procurement policy and practice and reveal those procurement capabilities that are most impactful for operating effectively.
Design/Methodology/Approach: An agency-institutional theoretic perspective and a lifecycle analysis technique are combined to abductively develop a framework to identify, analyse and compare complex procurement policies and practices in public sector organisations. Defence is the focal case and is compared with cases in the Nuclear, Local Government and Health sectors.
Findings and practical implications: The study provides a framework for undertaking a lifecycle analysis to understand the challenges and capabilities of complex, public-sector buyers. Eighteen hierarchically-arranged themes are identified and used in conjunction with agency and institutional theories to explain complex procurement policy and practice variation in some of the UK’s highest-profile public buyers. Our findings provide a classification of complex buyers and offer valuable guidance for practitioners and researchers navigating complex procurement contexts.
Originality/Value: The lifecycle approach proposed is a new research tool providing a bespoke application of theory by considering each lifecycle phase as an individual but related element that is governed by unique institutional pressures and agency-theoretic relationships.
Keywords: Procurement lifecycle analysis; Procuring complex performance; Complex procurement; Agency theory; Institutional theory
Paper type: Research paper

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