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The Impact of Electronic Government on Public Financial Management in South Africa: An Empirical Case Study


The term 'electronic government'? describes the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support one or more core functions within the public sector. Typically, related initiatives aim to improve efficiency, increase transparency, facilitate access to information or generally enhance public services. There is a general consensus that electronic government can be a vital factor in the successful design and implementation of political and administrative reforms. This leads to the ongoing discussion about its relevance and potential for developing and transition countries. Aid agencies and their respective partner countries are consequently preparing themselves for the investment in modern technologies as a means of addressing burning issues within the public sector. However, there still remains a considerable lack of empirical data concerning the specific impact of electronic government on developing countries. What is the exact return on investment? Which areas promise the highest returns? According to what categories should costs and returns be expressed? All these questions usually go along with the implementation of complex software applications and they highlight the difficulty of objectively measuring the return on investments in information technologies.

These questions are at the core of a current research project on the impact of electronic government on public financial management. The research draws its data from a case study of an SAP business software implementation in a South African national department. The objective of the study is to assess the impact of the software implementation on selected key financial management processes. Specifically, this entails determining values for measurement indicators in areas important to the public sector such as operational, social and political domains. In a second step the study will then develop an econometric model to investigate the causal relationship between the indicators within these areas. The results of this research will provide valuable information on the factors responsible for a successful implementation of electronic government in a third world context. It could also provide an indication as to the impact of technology on a country currently undergoing one of the most profound economic and political transitions in its history.

Academic affiliation

Center for Development Researchexternal link, Bonn, Germany


Carsten Friedland
Tom Gross, Supervisor
Thorsten Hennig-Thurau, Supervisor


This research is partly funded by SAP AGexternal link, Walldorf, Germany, and by
Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GTZ)external link, Eschborn, Germany.

Created by: mirko.fetter last modification: Friday 28 of January, 2011 [00:20:15 UTC] by tom.gross