Knowledge management (KM) as a viable solution to public service delivery challenges

Keywords: Knowledge management, KM, Service delivery, Service delivery improvement plan, South Africa, South African government


The object of research: The study revolves around KM and service delivery. It ascertains whether KM is a plausible solution to public service delivery challenges. Although the paper is aimed at governments worldwide, it is focusing on South Africa.

Investigated problem: While the public service in South Africa has been significantly transformed since apartheid's end in 1994, the government is now under enormous pressure to deliver and save the public service from further collapse. Recent years have seen an increase in service delivery demonstrations and marches. Many believe the public service delivery mechanisms introduced to circumvent public service delivery challenges have been ineffective.

The main scientific results: Despite knowing what must be done, officials have trouble putting their plans, strategies, and policies into action. This is even though service delivery mechanisms were implemented to help them improve service delivery. In fact, only half of the respondents (50.7 %, n=33) were aware of service delivery mechanisms, though 95.4 % (n=62) concurred that KM is a viable solution to improve service delivery.

Area of practical use of the research results: Very little research has been conducted on KM as a potential solution to South Africa's service delivery problems. As a result, this research provides new insights into improving public sector service delivery using KM. Overall, the findings will benefit KM and Public Administration practitioners.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Robertson K. Tengeh, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Department of Public Administration and Governance


Barbier, L., Tengeh, R. K. (2022). The nexus between public administration, knowledge management and service delivery: A literature analysis. Focus on Research in Contemporary Economics (Force), 3 (1), 253–293.

Dintwa, P. (2022). For communities to receive decent services, corruption in all spheres of govt must end: President. SABC news. Available at: Last accessed: 14.03.2022

Investment decisions: Why South Africa and why now? Forward-looking scenarios for the Ramaphosa presidency (2018–2022) (2018). PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Available at:

Chandrashekhar, R. (2020). The road ahead for public service delivery: Delivering on the customer promise. Public sector research centre. Johannesburg: PricewaterhouseCoopers, 68.

Step-by-step guide for the development of effective, realistic and credible service delivery improvement plans (SDIPs) (2013). DPSA Service Delivery Improvement Plans Training Guide, 1–35.

Plessis, C. (2021). Ramaphosa returns from West Africa tour to political and economic minefield while lamenting “catastrophic year” for SA. Daily Maverick. Available at:

Crous, M. (2002). Service delivery in the South African public service: Implementation of the Batho Pele principles by Statistics South Africa. University of Pretoria.

Martins, N., Ledimo, O. (2015). The perceptions and nature of service delivery innovation among government employees: An exploratory study. Journal of Governance and Regulation, 4 (4), 575–580. doi:

Vilfan, M., Thijs N., Karadža E., Kusi Drita S., Puzić, T., Gjorgjievski J., Miletić, J. (2018). Comparative study on service delivery. Regional School of Public Administration, 433.

Nel, D., Masilela, L. (2020). Open governance for improved service delivery innovation in South Africa. International Journal of eBusiness and eGovernment Studies, 12 (1), 33–47. doi:

Ondari-Okemwa, E., Smith, J. G. (2009). The role of knowledge management in enhancing government service-delivery in Kenya. South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science, 75 (1), 28–39. doi:

Sawe, E., Rotich, G. (2016). Influence of knowledge management on service delivery: Case of the Anti-Counterfeit Agency. Strategic Journal of Business & Change Management, 4 (2), 889–904.

Fortuin, M. (2022). Strategic analysis of electricity generation mix in South Africa. Elsevier. doi:

Gossel, S., Koelble, T. (2021). Service delivery gap: The pros and cons of semi-privatising South Africa’s failing municipalities. Daily Maverick.

Campbell, J. (2014). South Africa. What does ‘service delivery’ really mean? Available at: Last accessed: 11.03.2022

Lodge, T., Mottiar, S. (2015). Protest in South Africa: motives and meanings. Democratization, 23 (5), 819–837. doi:

FAQs on foreign direct investment (2020). South African Institute of International Affairs. Available at: Last accessed: 01.03.2022

Smoke and mirrors: Un data shows Ramaphosa’s investment drive is barely alive (2021). Daily maverick. Available at: Last accessed: 03.03.2022

A skilled workforce for strong, sustainable and balanced growth: A G20 training strategy (2011). International Labour Office.

Fraser, A., Andrews, D., Williamson, T. (2021). How officials can do better at delivering services to citizens. In Governance for development. World Bank Group.

Meyer, J., Brown, M., Kaplan, D. (2000). Assessing the South African Brain Drain: A statistical comparison. DPRU Working Paper no. 00/40. University of Cape Town, 1–30

Batho Pele, D. (2003). A service delivery improvement guide. Department of Public Service and Administration.

Service delivery improvement Plan: 2018/19–2020/21 (2018). Statistics South Africa.

The three spheres of Government (2020). Education & Training Unit. Available at: Last accessed: 22.06.2020

Clark, D.; Côté, L., Savard, J.-F. (Eds.) (2012). Public service charter. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Public Administration.

South Africa. (2013). Public service charter. Government printer.

Evaluation of service standards in the public service. Department of Public Service Commission (2005). Public Service Commission.

The challenge of service delivery in South Africa: A Public Servants Association perspective (2015). PSA. Public Servants Association of South Africa, 12.

Breakfast, N. B., Nomarwayi, T. (2019). Violent service delivery protests in post-apartheid South Africa,1994–2017. A conflict resolution perspective. African Journal of Public Affairs, 11 (1), 106–126.

Wiig, K. M. (2002). Knowledge management in public administration. Journal of Knowledge Management, 6 (3), 224–239. doi:

Service delivery in South Africa: Issues, challenges, and solutions (2010). IDASA. Available at: Last accessed: 21.09.2022

DPSA on poor performance of most government departments on Service Delivery Improvement Plan, Service Charter and way forward, with Deputy Minister (2015). Parliamentary Monitoring Group. Available at: Last accessed: 21.09.2022

Thomassen, J.-P., Ahaus, K., Van de Walle, S., Nabitz, U. (2012). An Implementation Framework for Public Service Charters: Results of a concept mapping study. Public Management Review, 16 (4), 570–589. doi:

Davenport, T. H. (1994). Saving Is soul: Human centred information management. Harvard Business Review, 72 (2), 119–131.

Koenig, M. (2018). What is KM? Knowledge management explained. Available at: Last accessed: 15.06.2020

Theriou, N., Maditinos, D., Theriou, G. (2011). Knowledge management enabler factors and firm performance: An empirical research of the Greek medium and large firms. European Research Studies, XIV (2), 97–134. doi:

Igbinovia, M. O., Ikenwe, I. J. (2017). Knowledge management: Processes and systems. Information Impact, 8 (3), 26–38. doi:

Hajric, E. (2018). Knowledge management system and practices: A theoretical and practical guide for knowledge. Available at: Last accessed: 23.06.2021

Davenport, T. H., Prusak, L. (2000). Working knowledge. Harvard Business School Press.

Ming Yu, C. (2002). Socializing knowledge management: The influence of the opinion leader. Journal of Knowledge Management Practice, 3 (3), 76–83.

Rowland, F., Syed-Ikhsan, S. (2004). KM in a public organization: A study on the relationship between organizational elements and the performance of knowledge transfer. Journal of Knowledge Management, 8 (2), 95–111. doi:

Zack, M., McKeen, J., Singh, S. (2009). Knowledge management and organizational performance: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13 (6), 392–409. doi:

Jayasingam, S., Ansari, M. A., Ramayah, T., Jantan, M. (2013). Knowledge management practices and performance: Are they truly linked? Knowledge Management Research and Practice, 11 (3), 255–264. doi:

Delivering on Development: Harnessing Knowledge to Build Prosperity and End Poverty (2012). The World Bank. Available at: Last accessed: 05.07.2020

Figurska, I.; Drelukiewicz, N., Memepel-Śnieżyk, A., Sokół, A., Sołoma, A. (Eds.) (2014). The benefits of knowledge management in organizations. Market in the modern economy: Management – Processes. Bratislava, Slovakia: KartPrint, 55–64.

Reddy, P. S. (2016). The politics of service delivery in South Africa: The local government sphere in context. Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa, 12 (1), 1–8. doi:

DPSA National Knowledge Management Strategy Framework (2019). DPSA.

Zamir, Z. (2019). The impact of knowledge capture and knowledge sharing on learning, adaptability, job satisfaction and staying intention: A study of the banking industry in Bangladesh. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Knowledge, 7 (1), 46–64. doi:

Paprika, Z. Z. (2001). Knowledge management support in decision making. Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration.

Heck, U., Rogger, A. (2004). Knowledge management for e-service-delivery: A conceptual approach within e-government. Knowledge Management in Electronic Government, 1–8. doi:

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., Thornhill, A. (2019). Research methods for business students. Pearson Professional Limited.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., Thornhill, A. (2009). Understanding research philosophies and approaches. Research methods for business students. Pearson Professional Limited, 122–161

Phair, D., Warren, K. (2021). Saunders’ Research Onion: Explained simply. Peeling the onion, layer by layer. Johannesburg: GradCoach.

Tengeh, R. K. (2011). A business framework for the effective start-up and operation of African immigrant businesses in the Cape Town Metropolitan Area of South Africa. Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Creswell, J. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. SAGE.

Wisdom, J., Creswell, J. W. (2013). Mixed methods: Integrating quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis while studying patient-centered medical home models. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Radhakrishnan, G. (2014). Sampling in mixed methods research. International Journal of Advances in Nursing Management, 2 (1), 24–27.

Populations and sampling (2021). Available at: Last accessed: 30.12.2021

Adam, A. M. (2020). Sample size determination in survey research. Journal of Scientific Research & Reports, 25 (5), 90–97. doi:

Taherdoost, H. (2016). Sampling methods in research methodology: How to Choose a Sampling Technique for Research. International Journal of Academic Research in Management, 5 (2), 18–27. doi:

Makanyeza, C., Kwandayi, H., Ikobe, B. (2013). Strategies to improve service delivery in local authorities. International Journal of Information Technology and Business Management, 15 (1), 1–11.

Morton, S. M., Bandara, D. K., Robinson, E. M., Carr, P. E. (2012). In the 21st century, what is an acceptable response rate? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 36 (2), 106–108. doi:

👁 49
⬇ 53
How to Cite
Barbier, L., & Tengeh, R. K. (2022). Knowledge management (KM) as a viable solution to public service delivery challenges. ScienceRise, (4), 25-37.
Lifelong learning and professional development

Most read articles by the same author(s)