Call for Abstracts: Interdisciplinary Public Procurement PhD Forum 2023

Vertrouwen burger in de overheid

On 16 May 2023, the Utrecht University Centre for Public Procurement is hosting its bi-annual Interdisciplinary Public Procurement PhD Forum. The forum is a joint initiative of UUCePP with the new  IOS Platform ‘The Transactional State as an Institution for Good’. PhD researchers in the field of public procurement and subjects related to the theme as described below are invited to submit abstracts (see below) for participation in the forum.

The State fulfils a pivotal role in determining what is deemed ‘good’ and who is allowed to add to what is deemed ‘good’ in society. It thereby influences society in a top-down manner, but can simultaneously also limit or stimulate bottom-up initiatives. Accordingly, local, regional and central governments determine - not always via democratic representation -  the nature, scope and purpose of public tasks and services in open societies. It is the State that determines who will take care of their performance: the State itself, for-profit or non-profit actors - such as voluntary organisations, charities or religious institutions -, citizen initiatives, social enterprises or other public authorities. Much can be learned from how this division of responsibilities is made, which differs significantly from State to State, depending on their different traditions (collective v. individual? Commons v. values?), cultures (east v. west?), history, political philosophy (protectionism v. nationalism / patriotism?), legal systems, economic approaches (neoliberal v. centrally led?) and democratic development levels with regard to state intervention.

Whatever the outcome of this division, the State automatically demarks the ever-shifting line between the ‘public’ and ‘private’ due to its ever-evolving transactions habits, such as selling and buying property, contracting market parties, by engaging in more structural public-private cooperation or by simply choosing between performing tasks by itself or letting the market do its work.

This leads to the fundamental question of how can we best position the State as an institution that positively - instead of negatively - influences the ‘good’ in society through these transactions, on the one hand, by finding solutions to reduce social injustice and poverty, to secure health care and a just refugee system, to combat climate change, water shortages, to ensure good public transport, to counter security threats and, on the other hand, by protecting our constitutional values and the rule of law.

Public procurement as an integral part of resolving societal challenges

Increasingly, public procurement is seen as integral part of the posed solutions. This is not surprising given the potential of public procurement, which consist of approximately 14-19% of the EU GDP and can rise to as much as 70% in developing countries, as a means to influence society. At the same time, public procurement poses risks of corruption and thereby the functioning of democracy and the rule of law.

Academic research into public procurement and its regulation covers many aspects to aid these solutions while combatting corruption to uphold the rule of law in a liberal democracies. This requires research based on a new concept of multi-dimensional economic growth - as envisaged by the UN Sustainable Development Goals - and on the ever-evolving concept of well-being to benefit of people and society. Topics are, but not limited to, environmental sustainability, circular economy,  healthcare, defence, social conditions, corruption, efficient public spending, human rights, national security, crisis, digitalization, innovation or a combination of above-mentioned topics, perspectives, methodologies (from different disciplines). Monodisciplinary and interdisciplinary research into these topics is vital for an efficient, effective and just functioning of public procurement in society.

Application The Interdisciplinary Public Procurement Forum 2023

The PhD Forum originates from the Utrecht University Centre for Public Procurement (UUCePP) and was first organised in 2021. This year it will be organised within the framework of the new Institutions for Open Societies’ platform: “The Transactional State as an Institution for Good”.

The PhD forum is an open and inclusive space for young scholars working on public procurement to present and discuss their research and to benefit from the feedback from a wide team of public procurement scholars and practitioners. If accepted, participating PhD researchers will be able to present their work to their peers, receive individual expert feedback from two invited academic leaders in the field (one from their own discipline and one from another discipline), and gain opportunities to expand their network by meeting their fellow participants. At the Forum, we also seek to reflect - with the future in mind - on the submitted idea’s from a broader, external, conceptual, methodological, multidisciplinary perspective.

We welcome you to submit your abstract on topics within the area of public procurement or closely related areas, stemming from research in law, economics, business administration, public administration and/or purchasing sciences. You are welcome to submit monodisciplinary and interdisciplinary research abstracts and papers.

Relevant deadlines

The PhD forum will take place in Utrecht and online on Tuesday 16 May 2023. The following deadlines apply in order to secure participation:

  • Deadline for abstracts (max. 250 words, excluding title): 1 February 2023
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: 10 February 2023
  • Deadline for full papers (max. 5000 words): 25 April 2023

Organising committee

The Public Procurement PhD Forum is organised under the auspices of UUCePP’s management team consisting of prof. Elisabetta Manunza (co-head), prof. Fredo Schotanus (co-head), dr. Willem Janssen and dr. Vitezslav Titl. The organizing committee consists of PhD candidates Marly Celis Galvez and Nathan Meershoek. The Forum is supported by the university-wide research theme Institutions for Open Societies (IOS) and feeds into this research program. Should you have any questions, feel free to reach out to

About the organisers: UUCePP, RENFORCE and IOS

The Utrecht University Centre for Public Procurement is an interdisciplinary research centre in the field of public procurement both from a legal and economic perspective. The Centre is a joint effort of the Utrecht University School of Law and the School of Economics of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance. Its aim is to contribute to an improvement of the utilization, regulation, promotion, social and sustainable use of public procurement. The UUCePP team carries out scientific and applied interdisciplinary research and provides innovative education for students as well as for a variety of market parties and (semi-) public institutions.

UUCePP is a regional Centre of Competence of the International Purchasing and Supply Education and Research Association (IPSERA).

The Utrecht Centre for Regulation and Enforcement in Europe (RENFORCE) focuses on the relationship between regulation and enforcement at the interplay of national, European and other levels of government as well as private spheres of regulatory enforcement. RENFORCE is also a platform for the exchange of ideas between academics and practitioners.  The PhD forum is specifically connected to the building blocks on The Conceptual, Constitutional and Theoretical Foundations of Shared Regulation and Enforcement for a stronger Europe (CoCoT) and Public Interest Ecosystems.

Institutions for Open Societies (IOS) is one of the four strategic themes of Utrecht University. A new platform within this strategic theme is aimed at studying The Transactional State as an Institution for Good. Within the platform, the State’s transactions with society are researched in an academic interdisciplinary manner in conjunction with real world practical viewpoints. The Platform brings together research, educational and societal activities that focus on why, when, and how the State acts in light of a multidimensional concept of ‘just’, thereby integrating social and sustainable perspectives, and how to future-proof its role to achieve a resilient and open society that upholds the rule of law.