Corruption in public procurement: entrepreneurial coalition building


This article presents a comprehensive theoretical approach to the study of procurement corruption. It argues that corruption in public procurement can be explained by the creation and development of “corrupt procurement coalitions” (CPCs). Functioning as a network built by corruption entrepreneurs seeking to “milk” the procurement process, a CPC must accomplish three interrelated tasks to succeed: 1) identifying which members to include and organizing interactions of said members, 2) generating and redistributing benefits, and 3) evading internal and external control. CPCs are structured in an inner/peripheral configuration, where the inner network controls the core activities, and the peripheral networks can be activated at will when illegal tasks need to be externalized.

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    The Commission was created in 2011 by the government of Quebec after two years of media allegations of widespread corruption in public procurement at the municipal and provincial level. Its mandate was to examine public works contracts awarded by municipalities and provincial departments and to unveil schemes of corruption and collusion. The Commission was also explicitly mandated to explore the possibility that corruption schemes might be related to illegal party financing and to inquire into the possible presence of organized crime in the construction industry. Its mandate covers a fifteen-year period from 1996 to 2011.

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    Almost all illustrations used in this article are based on testimonies given under oath to the Commission. Others sources (journalistic, for example) are duly mentioned. Nevertheless, we feel it is important to remind our readers that the people involved in these allegations have not been found guilty by a court of law and should therefore be considered innocent until proven otherwise.


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Correspondence to Pierre-André Hudon.

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Pierre-André Hudon received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. The authors would like to thank the SSHRC for making this research possible.

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Hudon, PA., Garzón, C. Corruption in public procurement: entrepreneurial coalition building. Crime Law Soc Change 66, 291–311 (2016).

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  • Organize Crime
  • Public Procurement
  • Discretionary Power
  • Economic Rent
  • Procurement Process