Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Procurement

April 2006 | Christopher Mccrudden, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

Public procurement (the purchase by public bodies of goods and services from others) has proven to be a dedicated follower of political fashion. Historically, we see consistent attempts to link public procurement with the government policy of the day, in areas as diverse as national industrial policy, reducing unemployment, improving employment conditions, support for small businesses, local development, employment of disabled workers, and equal pay for men and women, to mention only a few. With the increasing popularity of “corporate social responsibility,” it is hardly surprising, then, that CSR has become linked to the use of public procurement. The definition of CSR is contested and so, for the moment, Moon’s definition will suffice: “In essence CSR refers to business responsiveness to social agendas in its behaviour and to the performance of these responsibilities.” This chapter considers the “new” use of public procurement in the pursuit of CSR in general, but considers in particular the relationship between CSR, public procurement, and the law.

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