Socially responsible procurement: A service innovation for generating employment in construction

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Socially responsible procurement (SRP) utilises government expenditure on construction procurement as a means of generating social value from construction activities. The paper proposes that SRP is a type of innovation delivering social value in the form of employment opportunities to local communities. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the use of SRP in Northern Ireland procurement and align the findings with existing literature.

A three-stage approach was employed, namely, first, a review of innovation and SRP literature; second, a survey of 50 Northern Ireland construction organisations to extract perceptions of SRP in practice; and third, qualitative analysis of the literature with the empirical insights.

Findings show that SRP is being driven by social legislation and being delivered by contractors as part of their contractual obligations. SRP represents a significant shift from standard construction practice which makes it challenging to implement using traditional processes and systems. It is found that SRP is generating social benefits through employment creation and the feedback from employees is largely positive. However, it is proposed that contractors need to adopt a more person-centric approach to the implementation of SRP to sustain the benefits being currently evidenced.

The study suggests that there is an urgent need for more holistic measurement of impacts and outcomes of SRP to ensure social targets are appropriate for the communities in which projects are being constructed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-152
Number of pages14
JournalBuilt Environment Project and Asset Management
Issue number1
Early online date5 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 4 Mar 2019


  • Employment
  • Innovation
  • Social value
  • Construction contracts
  • Social clauses
  • Socially responsible procurement


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