Cingolani, L. & Fazekas, M. (2019). Administrative capacities that matter: organisational drivers of public procurement competitiveness in 32 European countries. GTI-WP/2019:01, Budapest: Government Transparency Institute.
In spite of the many efforts in the pursuit of a European single market, many barriers continue to lie ahead, as the field of public procurement illustrates. In 2015, around 40% of all high-value procurement tenders in a large pool of European countries attracted only 2 bidders or less, and only 3% of all winning companies had their offices outside the procuring country. This paper explores a rather unaccounted dimension behind the competitiveness of tenders: the administrative capacities of contracting authorities. For this, we first build a theoretically-informed multidimensional framework of administrative capacities and subsequently test the effect of these capacities on competitiveness, by using a comprehensive and curated database of more than 120.000 procurement contracts in 32 European countries. The findings show that most administrative measures robustly explain a portion of competitive- ness, in particular administrative aspects related to the choice of instruments and procedures to conduct the bidding calls, such as electronic procurement. Findings also show that the behaviour of these relationships is counterintiuitive at times, and highly dependent on the national context, suggesting that organizational path-dependency undermines convergence under EU regulation.