The efficacy of gender-based federal procurement policies in the United States

  • Barbara Orser
  • Allan Riding
  • Julie Weeks


Because procurement policies are one means of redressing discrimination and economic exclusion, the United States government has targeted 23% of its annual half-trillion dollar spend to SMEs and 5% of its spend to women-owned businesses. This research studies the efficacy of various certifications, with particular reference to that of women-owned, on the frequency with which SMEs bid on, and succeed in obtaining, US federal procurement contracts. The research framework is informed by two theoretical paradigms, feminist empiricism and entrepreneurial feminism, and employs a secondary analysis of survey data of active federal contractors. Empirical findings inform the extent to which certifications are associated with bid frequency and bid success. The results indicate that none of the various certifications increase either bid frequency or bid success. The findings are consistent with entrepreneurial feminism and calls for federal accountability in contracting with women-owned supplier firms. Study recommendations complement research that has criticized US federal government policy with respect to women’s enterprise. The study findings have implications for other economies; emulation of US federal government procurement processes and practices are not supported. Recommendations include the need to review the impact of consolidated tenders on designated (as certified) SME vendors and to train procurement personnel about the economic contributions of women-owned businesses.


Procurement Gender Women SMEs 

JEL Classifications

O25 L26 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Telfer School of ManagementUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.WomenableEmpireUSA

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