Promoting SMEs as Suppliers in Public Procurement: Would it Lead to Innovation?

Max Rolfstam

Research output: Working paperResearch


Purpose The purpose of the article is to examine the justification for encouraging SME involvement in public procurement, as a means to stimulate innovation.
Design/methodology/approach By applying a post-positivistic/ non-disciplinary approach the paper combines a narrative literature review of different literature streams with a multiple case study of six innovation projects.
Findings The literature provides ambiguous support for the general claim that SME’s should be more innovative than larger firms. Neither appear SMEs to be a central category of firms in the literature advocating public procurement of innovation policies. The case study findings suggest that few of the challenges innovating SME’s are facing would be ameliorated by developing public procurement of innovation policies specifically targeting SME promotion.
Research limitations/implications The disadvantage of the approach is that the analysis of the literature remains on a general level. The empirical material consists of six innovation project emerging in the health tech sector. Even if the results align with earlier studies, any variations in other sectors are not dealt with in the article. The generic implication developed in the article is that categorical promotion of SME involvement for the purpose of stimulating innovation cannot be justified.
Originality/value Unlike many studies and policy reports connecting ostensibly public procurement of innovation policies with SME promotion, this paper calls for a more critical view regarding policy development targeting specifically SMEs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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