23, November, 2012

A New Role for Citizens in Public Procurement

This first publication of Transparencia Mexicana's 'Citizens & Markets' series aims to approach the evolving relationships among actors by analyzing trends around the globe of citizen’s participation in public procurement processes, a place where governments and companies usually were alone, and where citizens now are thriving to meet and interact.

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Today’s social, political and economic processes are deeply shaped by the interaction of three groups of actors: citizens, governments and firms. Cutting-edge analysis requires both reviewing each actor’s behavior, but also considering the relations that these actors establish among themselves. It is not only the nature and intrinsic values of the involved actors what defines their conduct; the quality of their relationships often explains why reforming institutions or curbing corruption is so difficult.


The liberalization of financial markets resulted in overlapping roles among social, political and economic actors, making it challenging to describe their different interests and values. In liberal economies, citizens can simultaneously be consumers, government representatives or investors in companies. Governments have the double challenge of defending the public interest while becoming advocates of their own firms operating globally or as promoters of foreign investments.


As new interests arise, internal contradictions in the expected role of actors are more evident. Should we expect governments to defend the interests of “national” companies owned by “foreign” shareholders or to simply collect their taxes? Would the citizen's interest of this “nation” be local consumer protection or the individual needs protection by the government of the “foreign” investor? And what if the citizen is also a shareholder? Will he or she be equally satisfied by the enforcement of his consumer rights or her property rights?


The best possible solution to this conundrum is to focus on the scope and nature of the relationship rather to assume preferences or attitudes from traditional social roles. This is why Citizens and Markets aims for an in-depth analysis of the emerging relations between these three groups of societal actors.




Coordinated by: Eduardo Bohórquez and Deniz Devrim
Orginal publication date: August, 2012
Publisher: Transparencia Mexicana
Click here to view the complete publication


Other ELLA knowledge materials relating to Citizen Participation:






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