Evaluating social value in social clauses: Tensions in public procurement regulation and horizontal considerations
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EVALUATING SOCIAL VALUE IN SOCIAL CLAUSES: TENSIONS IN PUBLIC PROCUREMENT REGULATION AND HORIZONTAL CONSIDERATIONS Public procurement and how it is regulated is an area of great economic interest. In the European Union, total public expenditure on goods, works and services amounted to over € 2,015 billion in 2015. The primary objective of EU public procurement regulation is market access and the abolition of barriers and obstacles to trade. This thesis focuses on another objective, the harnessing of public procurement’s economic power to promote social objectives and create social value. This objective is situated at the nexus of a number of politically divisive topics within the EU: the role of the state vis-à-vis the market; the concepts of competition, efficiency and value for money within regulation and policy; the position of social considerations within Europe's internal market and the limits on the discretion of Member States in implementing social policy. The thesis examines the conflicting economic objectives of value for money, competitiveness and efficiency versus policy objectives of added social value, embedded within neoliberal state-endorsed norms of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation linked to a single economic concept of value. Using the social clause as an example of a horizontal policy mechanism, a comparative analysis is conducted on the use of social clauses within the national, legal and policy frameworks of the UK, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and the Netherlands. Employing a political economy perspective, the myriad factors at play are classified and evaluated. In so doing, the research aims to make visible the contextual influences on the stakeholders in the public procurement process when attempting to both grow the economy and effect social change within an EU regulatory framework. This makes clear that while social procurement is, on the one hand, a set of identifiable empirical practices, it is also, on the other, the expression of specific ideas related to the nature of value creation in complex systems.