The study involves a conjoint survey experiment that is carried out among a non-probability sample of procurement employees in Finland, Germany, and Italy. We reach out to procurement officials through collaboration partners in each country (Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, Deutsche Vergabenetzwerk in Germany, and Telemat in Italy) via e-mail and send invitations to participate in our online survey, embedding the conjoint scenarios, using individualized web-links for each respondent.
First, all respondents are presented with an introductory text identical across experimental conditions. Second, all survey respondents first answer (optional) background questions about their socio-demographic, job- and office-characteristics. For example, we ask about their education, job experience, and individual career concerns and status. Moreover, we ask about their office-characteristics (e.g., office size or type) as well as the typical tendering procedure (e.g., open vs. restricted) and the awarding rule officials typically work with (lowest price vs. scoring rule), and typical tendering outcomes relating for example to the level competition and occurrence of litigation. Third, all respondents are presented with an identical introductory text to the conjoint part of the study. Fourth, all respondents face a series of decisions between two fictitious profiles of tender outcomes. For each scenario, the respondents have to decide which tender profile they would prefer to have realized. Profiles differ with respect to several attributes that are randomized by the researchers. Moreover, the order of the attributes is randomized across respondents but is fixed at the respondent level.
Specifically, we ask the following outcome question after each decision scenario:
“Please look at the following pair of hypothetical tender outcome scenarios carefully and make a decision which you would like more. Which tender outcome scenario do you prefer?”
We employ the following attributes and respective realizations in each of the 6 hypothetical decision scenarios:
The price as stated in the bid from the winning firm is:
much lower than I expected
a bit lower than I expected
what I expected
a bit higher than I expected
much higher than I expected
The quality of the bought good or service as promised in the bid from the winning firm is:
as I expected
a bit better than I expected
much better than I expected
As a result, the tender received …
... 1 bids.
... 2 bids.
... 4 bids.
... 8 bids.
The selected winner is …
… is a firm that was unknown to me through previous tenders.
… is a firm I already knew from previous tenders and trusted.
… is a firm that I already had a bad experience with.
The winning firm is:
A local bidder from your region
A non-local bidder that does not come from your region
After awarding the contract, ... legal complaint has been filed against the tender.
… no … [weighted probabilities of 90%]
… yes … [weighted probabilities of 10%]
Respondents then select between the depicted tender outcomes of profile A or B.
Finally, after the conjoint analysis, we ask respondents which of these attributes are most and least important (i) for achieving a desirable tender outcome, (ii) in their daily work, and (iii) in improving their career prospects. We randomize the order of these follow-up questions to study the mechanisms of stated choices and to distinguish between choices, work practices, and career concerns of bureaucrats.