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Public Procurement and the Social Entrepreneur in Scotland

Project Description

Project reference number: GSBS-2019-101


In 2011, the then finance secretary, John Swinney outlined an important element of public policy:

"The Scottish Government is determined to help third sector bodies become more competitive, win contracts across public sector markets and become more sustainable and successful.” (

In an attempt to implement this, policy funding has been made available through initiatives such as the ‘Building a Sustainable Social Enterprise Sector in Scotland - Action Plan 2017-2020’. The objectives of this action plan are to support social entrepreneurs in all aspects of tendering for publically funded contracts, to assist social entrepreneurs become ‘tender ready’ for public procurement and to develop their sustainability and market potential. Several government funded organisations have emerged to support this intent (e.g. ‘The Supplier Development Programme’ and ‘The Partnership for Procurement’).

Despite Scottish Government policy and related investment, Lindsay et al (2014) are amongst those who have identified potential risks associated with social entrepreneurs delivering public services in Scotland, and note the difficulty that third sector organisations can have in meeting the procurement requirements of public funders. There is also significant, although at this stage largely anecdotal, evidence provided by social entrepreneurs illustrating these difficulties. This apparent gap between procurement policy and practice not only deserves further research but also represents a potential failure to capitalise on Scotland’s national resources.

The aims of the project are to:
1) Explore the characteristics of Scottish Public Sector Procurement in the context of third sector, social entrepreneurial service providers.
2) Examine, through case study research, any barriers to social entrepreneurs delivering public services.
3) Evaluate interventions to promote acceptance of third sector organisations.
4) Generate new evidence based insights and recommendation for closing any related gaps.

Supervisor Research Profiles

Director of Studies: Dr. Alan Aiken
GCU Research Online URL:

2nd Supervisor: Dr Susan Ogden
GCU Research Online URL:

How to apply

This project is available as a 3 years full-time PhD study programme with expected start date of 1 October 2019

To apply for this project, use the following link to access the online application form, as well as further information on how to apply:

Applicants shortlisted for the PhD project will be contacted for an interview within four weeks from the closing date.

Please send any other enquiries regarding your application to:

Funding Notes

Exceptional candidates will be put forward for the scholarship competition. The Scholarship packages available include fully funded studentships and fees only scholarships. The fully funded studentships are worth £19,300 per year for 3 years, subject to satisfactory progress. They cover payment of tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and an annual stipend of £14,800.

For further details on funding see View Website

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