Driving sustainable supply chain management in the public sector: The importance of public procurement in the EU

Markus Amann, Jens Roehrich, Michael Essig, Christine Harland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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– The purpose of this paper is to provide evidence of connections between sustainability policy goals included in public procurement tenders and offers and their achievement through contract award.

– Two hypotheses based on extant literature and the inducement–contribution theory were tested by means of a survey of 281 procurement files from 2007 to 2009 relating to eight product categories and four European Union (EU) member states. Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling.

– Findings indicate that public procurement was more effective in influencing socially responsible goals than environmental goals. In terms of supplier readiness, vendors achieved greater progress in delivering green than socially responsible operations.

Research limitations/implications
– The collection and analysis of data are based on procurement files, which is a new but also a complex procedure. In comparison to survey data, the data from procurement file analysis are less biased.

Practical implications
– Public procurement practitioners and sustainability policymakers should consider the use of public procurement as a lever to attain environmental and socially responsible goals.

Social implications
– Evidence has been provided to demonstrate the strategic use of public procurement impacts on environmental and socially responsible goals, thereby benefiting society.

– This study contributes in three main ways: first, by adding to existing, limited research on the use of public procurement as a lever of policy goals attainment; second, by examining environmental and socially responsible policy in one study; and third, through providing evidence across EU member states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-366
Number of pages16
JournalSupply Chain Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2014


  • Sustainability
  • social responsibility
  • Policy
  • Sustainable supply chains
  • Public procurement
  • Public–private relationships
  • Procurement file analysis


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