Collaborative Procurement: A Relational View of Buyer–Buyer Relationships


  • Helen Walker is chair of operations and supply management at Cardiff Business School, University of Cardiff. Her research interests include collaborative procurement, public procurement, strategic outsourcing, supply strategy, e-procurement, learning in supply networks, commissioning, and investigating sustainable procurement and sustainable supply chain management in the public and private sectors. E-mail:

  • Fredo Schotanus is a part-time assistant professor of purchasing management and management science at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. In addition to his academic activities, he works as a consultant at Signifi cant. He has published a book and several articles and book chapters on subjects in purchasing management. His research interests include public management, group purchasing, purchasing and supply management, allocation problems, and supplier selection. E-mail:

  • Elmer Bakker is principal consultant with iESE Ltd. in the United Kingdom. He also acted as iESE's procurement transformation manager in a previous role as research offi cer at the Centre for Research in Strategic Purchasing and Supply, University of Bath School of Management. His research interests include public procurement, procurement strategy, collaboration, supplier relationship management, and the professionalization of the purchasing and supply profession. E-mail:

  • Christine Harland is professor of supply strategy at the University of Bath School of Management. Her research interests include health sector supply management, strategic supply chain management, supply policy, international comparative studies of public procurement, and evidence-based supply. A cofounder of the International Research Study of Public Procurement, now in its sixth phase of research, her latest publication is the Sage Handbook of Strategic Supply Management (2013). E-mail:


Collaborative procurement is increasingly on the policy agenda in many countries, yet problems with collaboration occur. This article adopts a relational theory perspective to explore the enablers of and barriers to collaboration in purchasing, helping identify success factors. The authors adopted a mixed qualitative/quantitative methodology and interviewed 51 senior staffers in the United Kingdom. They found that collaborative public procurement is hindered by local politics and differing priorities, supplier resistance, reliance on suppliers for data, and a lack of common coding systems. Enabling factors for collaborating with local governments include dealing with local issues and buying from small and medium-sized enterprises. For health care providers, important themes are product innovation and ensuring supply. The authors develop a list of enabling factors and show their effect on collaboration success. This may assist policy makers in identifying areas of guidance and help practitioners prevent problems in collaboration.