The impact of public procurement on local economies in times of post-pandemic crisis (Advert Reference: RDF22/BL/AFM/CABRAS2)

   Faculty of Business and Law

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  Prof Ignazio Cabras  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Public procurement accounts for a significant proportion of demand for goods and services in the UK economy. In 2012/13, just after the financial crisis, the public sector spent a total of £230 billion on procurement of goods and services (including capital assets); this accounted for 34% of total managed expenditure (Parliament 2014). It is also widely recognised that public expenditure in regions and sub-regions represents a highly significant direct input into the local economies that sustain communities across the UK (McLean Report 2003). The resources used in the delivery of public services are therefore substantial, but there is relatively little systematic information concerning the impact of public procurement on local economies (Connolly 2004). 

The 2008 financial crisis and the significant contraction of public expenditure that followed hit thousands of local businesses and communities, many suffered important losses not only in relation to commissioned work, but also about the shrinking of business opportunities available within the local supply chain. The impact of these changes was felt in many communities until, more recently, the disruption brought by Covid19 further exacerbated the context. As a result, several local economics are now struggling to recover in the current situation, making government’s objective of pursuing a sustained economic growth in the post-pandemic era challenging to achieve.

This research project focuses on the role of public procurement and purchasing in shaping local economies and communities in post-crises times. The project will examine issues related to procurement practice and procedures at different administrative levels. The overall objective of this study is to map and measure the economic impact of public procurement in terms of minimising waste and ‘plugging the leaks’ in the retention of resources at a local level, capturing and harnessing lessons in terms of of resilience or ‘bounce-back’ effects.

This proposal brings together two areas of policy-related research that have until now been mostly considered as separate issues: public procurement and local economic stimuli; these concern the assessment of the impacts of public expenditure on local economies and the efficiency benefits of procurement processes within public authorities. Findings are likely to be of relevance to businesses, practitioners, and policymakers, and therefore the project is expected to achieve positive societal impacts.

In terms of methodology, applicants would be expected to outline one potential methodological approach, either qualitative or quantitative, and justify its potential appropriateness to the study (including its strengths and limitations).

The Supervisory Team will be led by Professor Ignazio Cabras and will include colleagues based at the Accounting and Financial Management department. Professor Ignazio Cabras is a leading expert on the topic, to which he regularly contributes with peer-review articles to several journals. He is engaged in international research networks and projects and has strong links with business and industry

This project is supervised by Prof Ignazio Cabras.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/BL/AFM/CABRAS2) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Business & Management (5) Economics (10)

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for international and part-time applicants.


Weber, G., Cabras, I., Ometto, P. and Peredo, A.M. (2021) Direct Management of COVID-19 at National and Subnational Level: The Case of the Western Amazon Countries. Public Management Review (fortcoming) DOI:
Cabras I. and Mulvey G. (2012) ‘Restructuring of nuclear economies: impacts on local supply chains in West Cumbria’, European Planning Studies Vol. 20 n.4, pp. 707-724
Cabras I. (2011) "Mapping the spatial patterns of public procurement: a case study from a peripheral local authority in Northern England", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 24 n.3, pp.187 - 205 [Highly Commended Paper - Emerald Literati Network 2012 Award for Excellence]
Peck F. and Cabras I. (2011) ‘The impact of local authority procurement on local economies: the case of Cumbria, North West England', Public Policy and Administration, Vol. 26 n.3, pp. 307-331
Cabras I. (2010) 'Use of e-procurement in local authorities' purchasing and its effects on local economies: evidence from Cumbria, UK', European Planning Studies, Vol.43 n.18, pp.1133-1151

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