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Public procurement for innovation to help meet societal challenges: a review and case study


  • Joeri H Wesseling
  • Charles Edquist


Public procurement for innovation (PPI) is a powerful, underutilized demand-side innovation policy instrument. How this instrument can contribute to meeting societal challenges, which require goal-oriented transformation of socio-technical systems, remains unclear and is explored in this article. This article draws on the transitions and PPI literature to propose transformative processes to which PPI can contribute and identifies factors that determine the effectiveness of PPI in meeting societal challenges. The propositions are explored with a case study on the procurement of radically new flood barrier technology, using event history mapping analysis. The article concludes that, under certain conditions, PPI can contribute to the transformative processes of (1) the articulation of societal demands to direct challenge-driven transformation; (2) the development and production; (3) selection; and (4) the diffusion and use of new technologies to meet these societal demands. The article ends with policy recommendations on how PPI can help meet societal challenges.

Suggested Citation

  • Joeri H Wesseling & Charles Edquist, 2018. "Public procurement for innovation to help meet societal challenges: a review and case study," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(4), pages 493-502.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:scippl:v:45:y:2018:i:4:p:493-502.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wesseling, Joeri H. & van der Vooren , Alexander, 2016. "Lock-in of mature innovation systems, The transformation toward clean concrete in the Netherlands," Papers in Innovation Studies 2016/17, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    2. Bergek, Anna & Jacobsson, Staffan & Carlsson, Bo & Lindmark, Sven & Rickne, Annika, 2008. "Analyzing the functional dynamics of technological innovation systems: A scheme of analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 407-429, April.
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