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URL : In this brief we will address the measure of managing public procurement taking into consideration cultural, corporate and organizational specificities, with a sustainable development strategy in mind. When such tools are used in conjunction, the efficiency of production applications is increased. Further research should focus on the investigation of foreign markets for industrial and state businesses' public procurement, including private law state-owned companies, as well as on developing a mechanism to evaluate public procurement that takes economic, social, and environmental factors into account. Finally, we need to be aware that integrating cultural factors when dealing with public procurement is fundamental when it comes to leadership issues. Underpinning leadership is an ability to comprehend people, their values, and characteristics, and how these factors may correct and adapt public procurement methodology. Keywords: public procurement, sustainable development strategy, public procurement methodology Journal of Infrastructure Policy and Management
Brian F. Fabrègue; Léo J. Portal
Culture-Sensitive Public Procurement Benchmarking
13 - 18
In this brief we will address the measure of managing public procurement taking into consideration cultural,
corporate and organizational specificities, with a sustainable development strategy in mind. When such tools
are used in conjunction, the efficiency of production applications is increased. Further research should focus
on the investigation of foreign markets for industrial and state businesses’ public procurement, including
private law state-owned companies, as well as on developing a mechanism to evaluate public procurement that
takes economic, social, and environmental factors into account. Finally, we need to be aware that integrating
cultural factors when dealing with public procurement is fundamental when it comes to leadership issues.
Underpinning leadership is an ability to comprehend people, their values, and characteristics, and how these
factors may correct and adapt public procurement methodology.
Keywords: public procurement, sustainable development strategy, public procurement methodology
Artikel ini membahas ukuran pengelolaan pengadaan publik dengan mempertimbangkan faktor kekhasan
budaya, perusahaan, dan organisasi berdasarkan kerangka strategi pembangunan berkelanjutan. Ketika
diterapkan bersamaan, efisiensi aplikasi produksi terbukti meningkat. Mengintegrasikan faktor budaya dalam
pengadaan publik juga terbukti menjadi hal dasar dalam kepemimpinan. Mendasari kepemimpinan sendiri
adalah kemampuan untuk memahami orang, nilai dan karakterisktik mereka. Faktor-faktor ini dapat mengoreksi
dan menyesuaikan metodologi pengadaan publik. Penelitian lebih lanjut dapat berfokus pada beberapa topik
sejenis, seperti pasar luar negeri untuk pengadaan publik industri dan BUMN, termasuk perusahaan swasta milik
negara, atau mengembangkan mekanisme untuk mengevaluasi pengadaan publik yang mempertimbangkan faktor
ekonomi, sosial, dan lingkungan.
Kata Kunci: pengadaan publik, strategi pembangunan berkelanjutan, metodologi pengadaan publik
Copyright © 2021, Journal of Infrastructure Policy and Management
Corresponding author:
Brian F. Fabrègue1, Léo J. Portal2
1. University of Zurich, Switzerland; Blue Europe, the Think Tank, Luxembourg/Poland
2. Political Science,the European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy
Culture-Sensitive Public Procurement
ISSN: 2599-1086 | e-ISSN: 2656-1778 | Vol. 4 | No. 1
Journal of Infrastructure Policy and Management | Vol. 4 No. 01 (2021)
How does organizational and national culture
affect public procurement proceedings?
According to experts of public procurement,
such a topic is not addressed or looked at clearly
enough to impart the necessary relevance.
Effective project management and procurement
of all people-related parts of a project, and
programs of projects, is a crucial ability that
cannot be overlooked. The brief will be significant
for benchmarking the increasing number of
orders at PPP industries, the implementation
of import substation plans, the strengthening
of enterprise strategies for sustainable
development, and the lack of scientific studies
in the field of strategic purchasing activity
The primary challenges associated with
public procurement are that issues of modern
strategic procurement planning have applied
no interest to cultural local sensitivities, and
that no terminology for sustainable purchasing
activity has been developed. Furthermore, tools
for managing procurement factors must be
developed. Once such challenges are overcome,
it will be possible to conduct procurement
analyses which consider the issues related to
culture, while at the same time considering the
contemporary objectives of sustainable growth
and the methods chosen to increase its stability
and efficiency.
Understanding what makes people ‘tick’ and,
indeed, how the entire systems of people,
processes, and technology interactions
require an understanding of individuals’ and
organizations’ values and the most fundamental
formative beliefs about what is just and
Public procurement without barriers is a
fundamental objective for fair and sustainable
development. By focusing on cultural
specificities, this brief provides useful solutions
for analyzing and proposing improvements to
public procurement systems in all countries.
By working on this topic, the T20 can advance
its benchmarking and cooperation tools for
ethical procurement within a country, but also
internationally. This will improve relations by
limiting communication friction and resolving
pre-existing conflicts in an objective manner.
The purpose of this study is to firstly improve
the quality of public procurement benchmarking
procedures by integrating cultural sensitivities.
Moreover, our study will highlight the critical
nature of benchmarking to overcome apparent
deficiencies in these processes.
Culture is known to have a major impact in
the functioning of administration, regardless
of other issues (racial, sociology, religion,
etc). (Goldbach, Dragomir, Barbat 2014; Ritz,
Brewer 2013). Further, it has been shown that
cultural environments can affect government
transparency and sustainability considerably.
(Ruiz-Lozano, Navarro- Galera, Tirado-
Valencia,De Los Ríos-Berjillos 2019 ). We will also
be highlighting the difficulty faced by public-
sector employees in distancing themselves from
the political pressures of their elected leaders.
In public procurement (PP), centralization
appears to be a definite tendency (Dimitri, Dini,
Piga 2006).
Governments around the world are encouraging
public-sector organizations to collaborate when
proceeding to public procurements, allowing
them to realize economies of scale and scope. The
United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the United
States and Australia serve as examples for this.
(Schotanus Et Alii 2011). When purchasing is
decentralized, all government units and agencies
have the freedom to order products and services
that meet their specific requirements. However,
many of these requirements are comparable
across agencies (for example, office supplies
Brian F. Fabrègue; Léo J. Portal
Culture-Sensitive Public Procurement Benchmarking
13 - 18
and cleaning services), and the government
as a whole loses out if such purchases are not
managed from the center (Karjalainen and Van
Raajj 2011). As a result, several governments
are adopting a more centralized procurement
paradigm. The two main sources of savings from
these agreements, are price reductions from
suppliers and administrative cost savings from
decreasing recurrent tenders. (Celec, Nosari,
Voich 2003). Additional benefits of centralization
might include improved purchasing processes as
well as improved quality of purchased products
and services (Schotanus Et Alii 2011).
However, it has been demonstrated that
generating and maintaining such benefits
is extremely challenging (Cox, Chicksand,
Ireland 2005). As a whole, centralization fails
to avoid inefficiencies, just like decentralized
models. Non-compliant procurement behavior is
preventing public and private sector companies
from achieving the procurement efficiency goals
(Lonsdale and Watson 2005). Non-compliant
procurement behavior means corruption or
misuse of funds, and also maverick buying and
non- competitive PP. It is not a crime, but non-
competitive PPs are unreasonable at least. Some
parties may have proposed ‘social construct’ or
‘individual dismissive behaviors’ as the causes of
such issues, yet they are obviously multiple.
Among all the reasons that may exist, one
particular issue has been put aside in the past.
That is, the issue of culture. When we talk about
culture, we are mainly talking about the habits
of specific populations, regardless of the reason
for these habits. A culture is defined, among
other things, by its functional loop between its
referential and its attractiveness for its own
population. In political and psychological terms,
it is known as groupthink and social cohesion.
Social cohesion is the set of circumstances in which
group members’ attitudes and behaviors are
influenced by and molded by their surroundings
(Festinger 1950; Festinger, Schachter and Back
1950). Heuser (2005) defines social cohesion as
socioeconomic phenomena in which collective
principles and ethics have a significant impact
on behavior. In his opinion, the fragile matrix
through which a society’s worth is measured is
made up of social, moral, and economic ideals.
The social cognitive theory (Bandura 1991) was
put forward by Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara,
and Pastorelli (1996) to show that people form
moral standards based on the influence of others
who may be morally or economically motivated.
At least two contradictory motivations are
driving the current interest in social cohesion.
According to Heuser (2005), social cohesiveness
helps organizations grasp the potentially
advantageous aspects of collective solidarity,
the force that comes from moral conviction, and
how these dynamics can be socially constructed
to demolish positive dynamics in social bonds
and structures.
Groupthink is a phenomenon in which a group
prematurely and often incorrectly comes to
an agreement on a critical topic or strategy
as a result of in-group pressures, despite
evidence pointing to the presence of ill-
debated alternate courses of action.According
to Janis (1983), Groupthink causes a decline in
mental efficiency, reality checking, and moral
judgments. During procurement processes
such as user needs’ assessment, bid document
preparation, bid solicitation and review, and
contract awarding, procurement professionals
succumb to peer manipulation at the expense
of reasonable argument and principled stances.
Groups frequently believe that what they are
doing is best for everyone (Beer, Eseinstadt
Spector 1990).
These two basic elements lead an individual,
within a community, to think that things could
not work otherwise. This loop of functioning
engenders attitudes and habits (regardless
these attitudes being ‘positive’ or ‘negative’),
which have habitual and partly predictable
Journal of Infrastructure Policy and Management | Vol. 4 No. 01 (2021)
consequences. In public procurement, these
basic social phenomena have the effect of
diverting large sums of money from public funds
to inefficient uses.
Current ‘inefficiencies’ countering solutions
that focus on human capital are based on the
‘proposal’ of codes of ethics, based on Somers
(2001) and the studies that followed, which found
that the formal dissemination process exposing
employees to a code of ethics generally ensures
the highest standards of behavior and restrains
unethical conduct. The 2009 OECD guidelines,
for example, focus on the issue of transparency
and good governance. However, organizational
experiments have shown that work-place group
effects frequently undercut official standards
of conduct. Ajzen (1998) writes ‘A person’s
desire to do [or not perform] a behavior is the
immediate determinant of that action’, ‘and
people are expected to act in accordance with
their intentions, barring unanticipated events’.
That being said, these solutions are obviously
completely ineffective in countries where the
two mechanisms mentioned above make these
principles useless or simply ignored. To solve
these problems at least partially, we propose to
integrate into the public procurement charters
or guidelines modifications to adapt to local
specificities, and to counter abuses that could
occur due to an inadequate public procurement.
To clarify this proposed solution, yet to be
detailed in a further research, we will make a
case based on the very well-known concept
of ‘social trust’ (Murtin 2018) and innate
‘secretiveness’ of a culture:
First, in a government structure where
people are by-nature expansive (for
instance some East Africa Swahili speaking
countries, but also some Romance-speaking
countries in America) and not inclined
to keep secrets, giving them information
about a public contract risks disclosing
sensitive information to malicious or non-
compliant actors. On the contrary, in a state
structure of a country where secrecy is a
fundamental element of the “high” culture
(e.g. China, Japan, Switzerland or Italy),
particular attention must be given not to
the information of the parties, but to the
publicity of the proceedings.
Second, in cultural structures where social
trust is very low, an additional effort
of transparency must be made on the
attribution modalities. On the contrary,
in a country where social trust is high,
a particular effort must be made on the
functionality of the proposals, which too
often happens to be totally separated from
Broms, Dahlström and Fazekas (2019) have
shown that in the case of small cities in Sweden,
low political competition is associated with
more restricted public procurement processes.
Integrating cultural sensitivities can correct
this lack of efficiency, in a very interesting
way, by allowing shifting the burden from
bureaucrats, to the stakeholders in general.
Also very significantly, this will allow an
increase of accountability: PP problems are
by no means limited to developing countries
(Hunja 2003) Even in jurisdictions with more
established administrations, the concerns are
underappreciated, making them vulnerable to
systemic accountability failures –sometimes
because the agents of accountability themselves
have just a rudimentary understanding of
the difficulties (Peachment 1992). Failures
to understand when contractual connections
exist, or when the transfer of information on the
process constitutes breaches of confidentiality,
have been documented in multiple cases (Peter
and Esselman 1997 ; Rice 2007). Even when
these flaws are disclosed, it is usually on an ad
hoc and exceptional basis, despite the fact that
the problems are sometimes persistent and
Brian F. Fabrègue; Léo J. Portal
Culture-Sensitive Public Procurement Benchmarking
13 - 18
Finally, adopting last-generation tools such as
blockchain or DLT could be a major solution.
Ferreira and Amaral (2016) highlights several
benefits of ICT adoption associated with
purchasing practices, including: (i) a simple
and efficient way of buying, allowing for lower
transaction costs; (ii) a more efficient way of
identifying and negotiating with suppliers;
(iii) automation of workflows that can then be
extended to the entire supply chain and to the
entire organization, allowing for information
sharing and integration; and (iv) a more
efficient way of identifying and negotiating with
suppliers (see also Schoenherr and Tummala
2009; UE Commission 2010). Ronchi (2010)
concentrates on three types of benefits: (i)
strategic benefits (connected to comparative
efficiency); (ii) transactional benefits (related
to transactional efficiency and effectiveness);
and (iii) informational benefits (as well as
decision support and timely communication).
This dialogue is critical for developing the
overall government transparency strategy
for public procurement in order to improve
accountability through the use of information
and communication technology (Lourenço
2013), and continues to do so to serve the public
DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) is a data-
storage system that stores information about
transactions, activities, or operations and is
highly dependable due to the technology it
employs. Its use has risen in recent years
in a variety of industries, most notably in
the financial sector. Together with a strong
cultural focus, DLT can impact three aspects:
transparency, impartiality, and control over
the bidding processes. For instance, once the
tender documents have been published, they
cannot be changed. Any changes must be made
through the filing of an addendum. Any effort to
introduce alterations will be recognized as a red
flag by the system. Second, and depending on
the cultural context, bidders can either submit
encrypted proposals that would be distributed
only to stakeholders, or, in other contexts, to
every party, in order to increase social trusts.
To recap, we believe that a public procurement
that will take into consideration the problematics
linked to any cultural habitus, regardless of
moral consideration, will manage, in the long
term, to improve the public procurement
outcomes. Taking into consideration group think
and the social cohesion, in particular, will allow
procedures to get the best outcome possible.
Integrating DLT technologies, particularly, will
allow an evolution for the best.
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