An alternative, but complementary perspective, related to the principal/agent relationship is that of respective roles of “knaves, knights, pawns, and queens”. Knaves pursue their own interests, knights have no self-interest and are motivated to help others, pawns are moved or controlled by others, and queens are those with the most power. When public procurement research focuses on the procurement manager, in the absence of the political dimension, it is affectively placing procurement managers in the position of a knight but without a leader. However, in the absence of a leader, is arguing that procurement managers therefore have the role of queens, beyond the control of others? However, the critical factor within the public sector is the supremacy of the democratic voice legitimised through the ballot box, which being the case, as implied by Soudry and Barber, procurement managers could actually be knaves!
The core of the argument within this paper is that public procurement strategy and management research has generally overlooked the role and perspective of politicians. However, given the above discussion, and the pre-eminence of politicians in the public sector, it makes sense to consider how politicians are presented in public procurement strategy and management literature.
Significant literature has been devoted to the principal/agent relationship in procurement strategy and management research (Bolton, P. 2006) however, that research is presented from the buyer/supplier relationship and the need of the buyer, as the principal, to minimise the risks posed by the agent. Little attention has been given to the reality that, within public procurement, procurement managers take on the role of agent for elected representatives.
Bolton, P. (2006) recognised this principal/agent relationship in a paper on how accountability systems have been put in place. He identified that, among the possible risks, procurement managers may show apathy towards ...