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School of Public Affairs -- SciencesPo -- Public Procurement 2021

This course introduces students to the contract theory literature applied to public procurement tools.  A specific focus will be made on empirical analysis of public procurement: practical issues, empirical methodologies as well as what can be learnt from a public management point of view will be addressed.

27 rue Saint Guillaume (Salle 24)

Class 1 - Introduction 

Date: Sept. 3rd 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

In this class we will introduce public procurement definition and the different type of arrangements associated with public procurement (i.e. traditional public procurement, concession contracts, public private partnerships). What are we talking about? What are the different forms of public procurement? What is their size and impact on national economies? What are the observed trends? What are the available feedbacks? What is the link between public procurement and privatization issues?


==> Be ready to discuss: what is public procurement? What are the main issues at stake?

  • The Economics of Public Private Partnerships, Springer, 2018 -- Chapter 1




Classes 2 & 3 –  Public Procurement as a Make or Buy Issue


Sept. 17th  and Sept. 24th 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

In this class we analyze public procurement alternatives as a make or buy issue. We introduce transaction costs in order to understand the main trade-offs at stake for public administrations.


==> Class 2. Presentation of the Single Market Score Board (5 to 7 slides)

==> Class 3. Presentation of the CATV case -- 92 and next pages (5 to 7 slides) 


Class 4 –  Contract Incompleteness, Property Rights and Public Procurement

Date: Oct. 1st 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

In this class, we will address the consequence of incomplete contracting in public procurement relationships as well as the role of property rights. How the property rights distribution might drive incentives to invest or innovate? What are the consequences concerning quality and the decision to use one type of public procurement arrangement or another?


==> presentation of the US prison case: 1147 to 1154 pages (5 to 7 slides)


Class 5  –  Incentives, Contract Award and The Political Economy of Public Procurement

Date: Oct. 8th 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

In this class, we will address incentive issues at stake in public procurement. How adverse selection as well as moral hazard issues should drive the way public procurement is organized, especially the call for bids stage?


==> presentation of the main result of the Bajari & al 2009 paper (5 to 7 slides)


Class 6 –  The Velib' case

Date: Oct. 15th 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

In this class we will study the Velib’ case as an illustration of topics addressed in previous classes and more especially the difficulty to generate right incentives in an incomplete contract.


==> presentation of the Velib' case and the initial possible choices (make or buy) (5 to 7 slides) 

  • No reading but students must read about the Velib’ case before the class looking at newspaper articles on this topic -- See for example this


Class 7 –  Public Procurement and Collusion

Date: Oct. 22nd 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

Class 8 – 

The French Water Case

Date: Oct. 29th 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

In this class we will study the French water case as an illustration of topics addressed in previous classes. More precisely we will address methodological issues to compare public and private performances as well as the question of choice reversibility.


==> Presentation of D. MacDonald's paper (6 to 8 slides) : 


Class 9 –  Responsible public procurement 1

Date: Nov. 12th 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

This class will be managed by Carine Staropoli - Paris School of Economics


Class 10 – 

Responsible public procurement 2

Date: Nov. 19th 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

This class will be managed by Carine Staropoli - Paris School of Economics



Class 11 – The New European Directives and The Specific Problem of Renegotiations

Date: Nov. 26th 2020, 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

One of the main critic associated with public procurement contracts concerns the inability to make private parties respect their commitment leading to renegotiations. We will discuss the reason why such renegotiations are often unavoidable and sometimes useful. We will also discuss how the new European Directives deal with this issue.


==> presentation of Brogaard & al 2021 paper main results (5 to 7 slides) 


Class 12 – Conclusion: What's New?

Date: Dec. 3rd 2021,  12:30 - 14:30

This class will be dedicated to one or two new academic articles that are pushing the research frontiers or putting to the table new ideas on the public procurement topics.


  • TBA



20% - Participation / presentation during classes

30% - 2 documents: Individual summary and comments on the new Buying Social Guide. See details on what is expected from you here

DEADLINE : Dec 1st. Send your work by e-mail to

50% - Final written exam during class 11th