The influence of networks on suppliers’ sustainable innovation in public procurement: Insights from Ghana’s public works sector

Author Identifier

Peter Adjei-Bamfo

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Business and Law

First Supervisor

Kerry Brown

Second Supervisor

Ferry Jie

Third Supervisor

Reza Kiani Mavi

Fourth Supervisor

Hadrian Geri Djajadikerta


In recent times, governments have been using their procurement function to drive innovation in firms’ product outcomes and to improve operational activities that pose sustainability challenges. Ghana, for example, is currently advancing and upgrading its public works infrastructure with revenues from its commercialised oil reserves to match and improve its anticipated middle-income economy status. Faced with several sustainability challenges, such as environmental pollution and resource depletion, desecration of cultural heritage sites and exposure of labour force to poor working conditions, public works infrastructure procurements constitute a larger proportion of government procurement expenditure, globally, compared with the procurement of goods and services. This research explores how the procurement of public works infrastructure may be managed to drive innovation that addresses these sustainability problems within the public works infrastructure sector of Ghana.

According to the World Bank, government procurement expenditure constituted about $11 trillion (15%) of the global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018. The size of government expenditure has served as an incentive for driving supplier innovation in industries. However, available studies on government procurement and innovation offer little knowledge about the dynamics of government innovation procurement management and the conditions under which supply firms bid for such unique contracts. Hence, this scant knowledge limits our understanding of the impact of public procurement on innovation in the entire supply chain. This PhD thesis explores suppliers’ perspectives of the dynamics of public procurement for sustainability-oriented innovation and how resources mobilised by supply networks enhance the sustainability and innovation capacity of the supply chain to bid for government innovation contracts.

Comprising a systematic literature review, a conceptual review and an empirical study, this research makes key contributions to the literature on government innovation procurement management and supply chain innovation by adopting a supply network lens. Drawing on the grounded theory research method for theory building, a total of 33 participants were sampled for the empirical study, providing 21 expert responses from a policy Delphi and findings from 12 in-depth interviews with elite informants whose job descriptions were relevant to government procurement and supply of sustainable innovative public works in Ghana (i.e., waterworks, building works and road works). These data were complemented with unstructured field observations and documentary analysis, which were all analysed inductively following the constant comparative analysis method.

It was evident from the systematic literature review that some practices inherent in the government innovation procurement management, such as the risk-averse culture of public buyers, poor buyer–supplier relations, the competition–supplier interaction conundrum and lack of political commitment, impede the sustainability and innovation capacity of the supply chain. The conceptual review presents a framework with six parsimonious propositions that explain the crucial role of network resources in supplier product diversification strategies for improving the impact of public procurement on innovation. The empirical study using grounded theory finds five types of network structures (i.e., sub-contracts, joint venture partnerships, framework agreements, professional associations, and informal dyadic ties) whose embeddedness informs access and allocation of resources essential for supplier’s diversification strategies and sustainable innovation capacity. The findings of this thesis, documented in three journal articles, contribute to government innovation procurement and innovation at the downstream supply chain with practical implications for managers to coordinate supply chain innovation in the context of addressing sustainability challenges and design appropriate network-precise evaluation systems that stimulate supply firm’s innovation.



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