Public versus private sector procurement – eWorld Survey (part 1)

Prior to the recent eWorld conference, we collaborated with the organisers to run a survey looking at the views of public (government) and private sector procurement professionals about their own and the other sector. We presented a quick overview of the results at the event, but we're going to be featuring more here over a few posts.

We had almost exactly 200 respondents, split pretty evenly public and private sector. Interestingly, around 80 (40%) of the 200 have worked in both public and private sectors in their careers. Indeed, for people currently in the public sector, that figure was just over 50%. Maybe our sample is biased, but that suggests more cross-fertilisation of people between the sectors than I would have expected.

It also calls into question the simplistic call for “more private sector procurement experts to go into government and sort things out”. Based on this sample, there are a lot there already! And plenty of folk now in the private sector have worked on the government side too.

Of the public sector people, almost half hope to work in both sectors over the next ten years – for the private sector folk, that was around 30%. That’s still a significant number, which suggests despite some image problems (as we’ll see), wage freezes and the like, the public sector still has some attraction for private sector people.

It was a pretty experienced sample too. Only 21% had less than 5 years in procurement, 37% have worked in procurement for between 5 and 15 years, whilst 42% have over 15 years in the profession. We didn't ask about time in their current role however.

There was a wide spread of industries represented – it looked pretty much proportional to industry size, as far as I could see. So manufacturing, financial services and professional services were the three biggest sample sectors. Again, amongst the public sector folk, it was pretty proportionate – central government and agencies at 27%, local government 25%, health 17% being the largest sectors.

That’s the background really for the survey – in part two we’ll get into how each sample group perceives itself and the other sector across a number of factors.

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