Journal article

Framing sustainability in public procurement by typologizing sustainability indicators : the case of Switzerland

  • Knebel, Sebastian Facoltà di comunicazione, cultura e società, Università della Svizzera italiana, Svizzera
  • Seele, Peter Facoltà di comunicazione, cultura e società, Università della Svizzera italiana, Svizzera
Published in:
  • Journal of public procurement. - 2021, p. 22 p
English Purpose: Sustainable public procurement (SPP) lacks common means for its operationalization within legislative latitudes. Through the translation of sustainability indicators (SIs) from CSR and corporate sustainability reporting into the needs of SPP, this paper aims to support the framing process of sustainability in public procurement. This paper does so along with the case of Switzerland. Design/methodology/approach: This paper performs a typological analysis of well-established SIs from CSR reporting to propose a criteria framework for SPP. Second, this paper tests the framework’s usability and feasibility with an expert online survey conducted in the Swiss SPP landscape. Findings: This paper proposes 10 generic criteria to frame the operationalization of SPP. Furthermore, public procurement experts from Switzerland evaluate the SPP framework as useful and feasible. Research limitations/implications: A limitation of the study can be seen in its deductive approach. Thus, it rather complements recent inductive approaches of SPP type and frame developments than replacing them. Future studies can further refine the understanding and operationalization of sustainability in public procurement. Practical implications: The generic SPP criteria framework provides a common ground for the operationalization of SPP building on existing sustainability performance measurement knowledge and a frame to operationalize sustainability measurements for public tender processes. Social implications: Implementing sustainability in public procurement potentially changes market behaviors globally toward social equality and minimization of climate change impacts. This research aims to support the SPP implementation process. Originality/value: To the best knowledge, this is the first attempt to directly translate established SIs from sustainability reporting into public procurement to frame SPP and to use existing sustainability measurement knowledge for its operationalization and harmonization.
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