EU-SPRI Webinars – Oishee Kundu and Matti Pihlajamaa -Thursday 17 June 2021

EU-SPRI Webinars – Oishee Kundu and Matti Pihlajamaa

Thu, 17 June 2021 | 15:30 (CET)

About this event

The event is composed by two presentations:

Examining institutional differences in public procurement with topic modelling


There is growing interest regarding the applicability of institutional theory for understanding potential sources of frictions or conflict among stakeholders involved in large and complex public procurement projects. However, much of this research uses conventional research methods, without sufficiently exploiting the conceptual and methodological possibilities associated with institutional theory. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the use of topic modelling to examine institutional differences in the project landscape.

Topic modelling is an unsupervised machine learning technique that finds co-occurring words (or ‘topics’) in texts and can be used to find vocabularies, an important indicator of institutional logics. The method is demonstrated by examining institutional differences among stakeholders in UK government projects in the field of defence and public transport. Analysing the transcripts of parliamentary committee hearings makes it possible to find significant differences in vocabularies among project stakeholders, confirming the prevalent ideas about institutional differences in project (especially megaproject) landscapes. We suggest that institutional heterogeneity may provide the pre-conditions for conflict among different stakeholders and increase the probability of conflict during project development and delivery.

Author’s bio:

Oishee Kundu is a PhD researcher at the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, funded by the Alliance Manchester Business School studentship (2017-2020). She submitted her thesis, titled “Public Procurement and Innovation: is defence different?” in December 2020 and completed her oral examination in March 2021. Her first paper from the thesis, titled “Public procurement and innovation: a systematic literature review”, has been published in Science and Public Policy.


Challenge-driven innovation policy and public procurement of innovation: implementing functional and outcome-based procurement


New forms of innovation policy emphasise directing innovation processes towards solving societal challenges, such as climate change, ageing, and poverty. Public procurement of innovation (PPI) has been considered to play a significant role in translating societal challenges into concrete market needs and incentivising companies to develop solutions for fulfilling them. However, there is scarce knowledge of how this is implemented in practice. This study addresses two relevant forms of public procurement – functional procurement and outcome-based procurement – and explores the practical implementation and boundary conditions for using them for challenge-driven innovation policy.

We conduct a multiple case study of eleven procurement cases in Finland. We find that procurement techniques that address societal challenges are typically used in combination with more traditional procurement methods. We argue that a critical task in challenge-driven PPI is creating a knowledge base for establishing causal relationships between the procured solutions and societal challenges. We find that the nature of this task varies with the chosen challenge and different procurement types have distinct such knowledge requirements. We also discuss the process of challenge-driven procurement and evaluate the realized and expected results of the cases.

Author’s bio:

Matti Pihlajamaa, D.Sc. (Tech.) is a Senior Scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland within the research team of Ethics and Responsibility in Innovation. He is experienced in innovation management and innovation policy, focusing on sustainable and responsible innovation, open innovation, and public procurement of innovation. He has a doctoral degree in innovation management from Aalto University, Finland (2018).

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