Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


The regulation of public procurement evokes Kafkaesque images. More than a decade of efforts at the national level to introduce commercially oriented practices in this regulatory context — including a myriad of innovative approaches to the cooperative public—private financing of major infrastructure projects, or public outsourcing and extensive experimentation with privatization — have not succeeded in fundamentally altering this reputation. Nor has growing recognition of the strategic importance of procurement systems in public financial management, the development of sophisticated ‘impact assessment’ tools to evaluate the costs and benefits associated with new and existing regulations, or the introduction of electronic procurement mechanisms. Indeed, the two volumes worth of rules governing the US Federal Government’s acquisitions process — notably the mother of rule-intensive domestic regimes — still spread out over a full nine inches of bookshelf space (Schooner, 2001, p. 635)!


Public Procurement Recipient Country International Economic Order Development Assistance Committee International Political Economy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 4.
    Some lawyers have dealt with this issue as a matter of the ‘juridification’ or ‘judicialization’ of politics. See, for example, R. Hirschl’s, ‘The Judicialization of Politics’, in K. E. Whittington, R. D. Kelemen et al. (eds), The Oxford handbook of law and politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)Google Scholar
  2. and G. Teubner, ‘Juridification—Concepts, Aspects, Limits, Solutions’, in G. Teubner (ed.), Juridification of social spheres: a comparative analysis in the areas of labor, corporate, antitrust, and social welfare law (New York: Walter de Gruyter and Co., 1987).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 5.
    Legal scholars describe this process of expansion in terms of what they call the ‘internationalization’ of public procurement regulation. See the discussion in H. Caroli Casavola, ‘Internationalizing public procurement law: conflicting global standards for public procurement’, Global Jurist Advances, vol. 6 (2006), available at <>, 06/09/07.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    The negotiating objectives of WGTGP—and, indeed, the very definition of ‘transparency in government procurement’ itself—were the object of considerable controversy, particularly but not exclusively between key developed country GPA members and India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Egypt. See the discussion in S. Arrowsmith, ‘Transparency in government procurement: the objectives of regulation and the boundaries of the World Trade Organization’, Journal of World Trade, vol. 37 (2003).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    See C. R. Yukins and S. L. Schooner, Incrementalism: eroding the impediments to a global public procurement market, Working Paper No. 320 (Geo Washington University Law School Working Paper, 2007)Google Scholar
  6. and S. Arrowsmith, ‘Reviewing the GPA: the role and development of the plurilateral agreement after Doha’, Journal of International Economic Law, vol. 5 (2002).Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    See the discussion in the preamble to the OECD DAC’s Harmonising Donor Practices for Effective Aid Delivery—Volume 3: Strengthening Procurement Capacities in Developing Countries, (2006), p. 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 14.
    Borrowing from the summary Catherine Weaver recently offered of the ‘idea of analytical eclecticism’, the research to be conducted herein will be driven by the question of whether a WTO Agreement can be used to promote good governance, development and accountability, not any particular research theory or method. See C. Weaver’s, ‘IPE’s split brain’, New Political Economy, vol. 14 (2009). A few additional words to acknowledge the intellectual ‘risks’ posed by such an approach are probably in order as well. As outlined by Katzenstein and Sil in their article in the Oxford handbook of international relations, they may include, inter alia, an inapplicability of research communities’ internal standards for use in assessing contributions to progress in the state of knowledge; the fact that differing levels of ‘fluency’ in these communities’ ‘analytical languages’ can lead to ‘conceptual muddiness’, as well as; associated dangers that undue amounts of time invested in reading beyond one’s own research tradition will remain unrewarded if there is a failure to make any meaningful academic contribution.Google Scholar
  9. See P. J. Katzenstein and R. Sil’s, ‘Eclectic Theorizing in the Study and Practice of International Relations’, in C. Reus-Smit and D. Snidal (eds), The Oxford handbook of international relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)Google Scholar
  10. citing J. Johnson’s, ‘How conceptual problems migrate: rational choice, interpretation, and the hazards of pluralism’, Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 5 (2002)Google Scholar
  11. and S. K. Sanderson’s ‘Eclecticism and its alternatives’, Current Perspectives in Social Theory: A Research Annual, vol. 8 (1987). As an unabashed practitioner, I am motivated by curiosity and a genuine desire to understand whether there is anything that the multilateral trading system can do to promote good governance, development and accountability in government procurement. If this research makes only a minor ‘academic contribution’, or is found ‘conceptually muddy’ by those prepared to devote their careers to the study of a ‘single theoretical language’, I will not despair. At the same time—naively, perhaps—I would hope that this book would pique the interest of at least a few of these individuals. The real world challenges with which it engages badly need the input of more creative minds!Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    Acknowledging what some would describe as growing disparities in the ways in which the ‘mainstream’ has been delimited over the course of IPE’s now nearly 40-year’modern’ history, as well as the recent debates sparked by B.J. Cohen’s history of IPE (2008), the audience I seek, more particularly, is one that is both intellectually curious and flexible enough to recognize the potential policy-related usefulness of quantitative analysis techniques, yet, at the same time, equally concerned about the possible practical applications of the research it is conducting. To the extent that development issues are involved, this audience would generally privilege issues of ‘justice and fairness under globalization’ rather than the ‘anti-foundationalist theories associated with postmodernism’. See, for example, C. Weaver’s ‘IPE’s split brain’, New Political Economy, vol. 14 (2009)Google Scholar
  13. and B. J. Cohen’s ‘The way forward’, New Political Economy, vol. 14 (2009). The quote concerning development is taken fromGoogle Scholar
  14. R. Higgott and M. Watson’s, ‘All at sea in a barbed wire canoe: Professor Cohen’s transatlantic voyage in IPE’, Review of International Political Economy, vol. 15 (2008).Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    The IPE literature’s widely explored reasons for this ‘formalization’ of politics. Many of them revolve around the idea of international law’s reinforcing the credibility of state commitment—for example, by increasing the reputational and/or financial costs of failing to respect a ratified treaty. See A. T. Guzmán, How international law works: a rational choice theory (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. R. O. Keohane, ‘International institutions: two approaches’, International Studies Quarterly, vol. 32 (1988). The early work on issues of this nature was conducted by the regime theorists, for the most part in the 1980s (Keohane, 1984; Young, 1979 and Axelrod, 1984). An overview of the early IR and legal literature is offered inGoogle Scholar
  17. H. H. Koh’s, ‘Review: why do nations obey international law?’, The Yale Law Journal, vol. 106 (1997). Until the late 1990s, rational choice theorists predominated in these debates; material interests, or what Keohane (1997) termed the ‘instrumentalist logic’ was viewed as the primary motivation for state behaviour. This has gradually changed and, today, legalization is recognized as an indissociable product of both ‘values and interests’ (Abbott and Snidal, 2002b and Simmons, 2010). A good, recent overview of the distinction between the theoretical camps—as well as their practical implications for international governance is provided byGoogle Scholar
  18. G. C. Shaffer and M. A. Pollack’s, ‘Hard vs. soft law: alternatives, complements, and antagonists in international governance’, in the Minnesota Law Review, vol. 94 (2010), No. 3, pp. 706–799.Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    Privatization of public services including, inter alia, communications, water supply and energy combined with trade liberalization—in some cases under the WTO—entail public policy choices that have been particularly controversial in this respect. See P.T. Stoll’s, ‘Global Public Goods: the Governance Dimension’, in V. Rittberger, M. Nettesheim et al. (eds), Authority in the global political economy (Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) In terms of the financing of these goods and services, other types of ‘non-state international transfers’—such as migrant remittances used to co-finance collective, ‘philanthropic’ projects—are becoming increasingly prominent. For further details, including examples of additional types of such ‘transfers’ see the recent discussion in:Google Scholar
  20. S. S. Brown’s, ‘Non-state transnational transfers: types and characteristics’, International Studies Review, vol. 11 (2009). Unlike privatization, the political implications of the latter are not well understood at this time. It is clear, however, that financial facilities of this nature can enable their providers to by-pass local governments providing public goods or, at least, significantly influence them. This, in turn, potentially has implications for local democratic processes. The GPA’s approach to privatization and PPPs are reviewed in Chapter1 of the book.Google Scholar
  21. 18.
    There is a burgeoning IR literature on the subject of accountability, much of it motivated by legitimacy concerns tied to non-state actors’ standard setting, including within networked confines. Materials derived from practical European experiences in terms of these processes offer especially useful insights for our purposes, notwithstanding the ambitious guiding principles at the core of the European integration strategy and the relatively modest differences between levels of development among EU members. See, for example, Y. Papadopoulos’, ‘Problems of democratic accountability in network and multilevel governance’, European Law Journal, vol. 13 (2007);Google Scholar
  22. M. Blagescu and R. Lloyd’s ‘Accountability of Transnational Actors: Is There Scope for Cross-sector Principles?’, in A. Peters, L. Koechlin et al. (eds), Non-state actors as standard setters(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009);Google Scholar
  23. M. Bovens, ‘Analysing and assessing accountability: a conceptual framework’, in European Law Journal, vol. 13(2007) and, more generallyGoogle Scholar
  24. A. M. Slaughter’s, Agencies on the loose? holding government networks accountable (Oxford University Press, 2000). For a discussion of the need for caution in drawing institutional analogies of this nature, see J. Pelkmans and J. Sun’s, ‘Towards a European Regulatory Strategy:Google Scholar
  25. Lessons from “Learning-By-Doing”’, in OECD Secretariat (ed.), Regulatory co-operation for an interdependent world (OECD Publications, 1993). On the early development of harmonization–incorporating private standards–in a European contextGoogle Scholar
  26. see J. Pelkmans’, ‘The new approach to technical harmonization and standardization’, Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 25 (1987).Google Scholar
  27. 21.
    For a discussion of the respective roles of law in the Continental and Anglo-American Administrative Law traditions, see section 6 of B. Guy Peters and Jon Pierre’s Handbook of public administration (London: Sage Publications, 2003).Google Scholar
  28. 23.
    Wilkinson later went on to explain that since the ‘(Gatt specifically) sought to stimulate the United States of America’s post-war economic growth while at the same time offering a measure of assistance in the reconstruction of the USA’s (largely) European Allies… the first round of negotiations targeted market access in manufactured, semi-manufactured and capital goods: precisely the areas in which the USA had a competitive advantage and surplus productive capacity and precisely those goods that were necessary for European reconstruction’. See R. Wilkinson, ‘The problematic of trade and development beyond the Doha Round’, The Journal of International Trade and Diplomacy, vol. 3 (2009). Subsequent paragraphs on the immediate post-war experiences of the developing countries in the trading system rely heavily on these two texts.Google Scholar
  29. 26.
    As explained by P. Gibbon and S. Ponte, ‘Global value chains: from governance to governmentality?’, Economy and Society, vol. 37 (2008), a mainstream IPE perspective would be chiefly concerned with the ‘power and effectiveness of institutions such as the WTO and the IFIs vis-à-vis regional and national governance systems’ along with the means by which such governance is exercised and what the relative benefits and costs are for those affected.Google Scholar
  30. 27.
    This is a time-constrained presentation of an exceedingly complex phenomenon. Readers with a desire for a more thorough introduction to global value chains and their analysis may wish to take a look at G. Aboni’s ‘Primer on Global Value Chains and International Production Networks’ in UNESCAP’s Linking greater Mekong subregion enterprises to international markets: the role of global value chains, international production networks and enterprise clusters, 2007, available at last accessed 11 September 2010 orGoogle Scholar
  31. E. Thun’s aforementioned chapter, ‘The Globalization of Production’ in John Ravenhill’s edited text, Global political economy, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).Google Scholar
  32. 28.
    For more information on how this process works, see the detailed discussion in the Routledge Global Institutions text on the ISO: C. Murphy and J. Yates’, The international organization for standardization: global governance through voluntary consensus (London: Routledge, 2009).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Susan Brown-Shafii 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World Trade InstituteUniversity of BernSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations