Public sector entrepreneurship in South Africa

Publication Date02 December 2019
Date02 December 2019
AuthorBoris Urban,Mmapoulo Lindah Nkhumishe
SubjectStrategy,Entrepreneurship,Business climate/policy
Public sector entrepreneurship
in South Africa
Boris Urban and Mmapoulo Lindah Nkhumishe
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Purpose Many unanswered que stions remain regarding the a uthorsunderstanding of ho w
entrepreneurship can be fostered in the public sector. To fill this knowledge gap, the purpose of this paper
is to conduct an empirical investigation to determine the relationship between different organisational factors
and entrepreneurial orientation (EO) in the South African public sector.
Design/methodology/approach Primarydata are sourced from middle-levelmanagers at municipalitiesin
the three largest provinces across SouthAfrica. Hypotheses are statisticallytested using regression analyses.
Findings Results reveal that the organisational antecedents of structure and culture explain a significant
amount of variation in the EO dimensions of innovativeness, risk taking and proactiveness. Additionally, the
findings on organisational rewards converge with an emerging stream of research which highlights that
while rewards works well to motivate individuals in the private sector, they are negatively correlated with
entrepreneurship in the public sector.
Research limitations/implications The study implications relate to the efficiency and effectiveness of
service delivery of municipalities in South Africa. Due to increases in community protest actions, it is
necessary not only to maximise efficiency in the provision of services, but also to innovate and be proactive in
order to achieve more with less resources.
Originality/value By investigating previously unrelated factors in the public sector, the authors create
closer conceptual and empirical links between the role of organisational factors and each of the EO
dimensions. Furthermore, the study takes place in a relatively under-researched entrepreneurship and public
sector context.
Keywords Culture, South Africa, Rewards, Structure, Entrepreneurial orientation,
Public sector entrepreneurship
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
While the idea of public entrepreneurship is not new (Weiss, 2014), the concept of
entrepreneurship in the public sector has materialised in the mainstream entrepreneurship
literature (Hartley et al., 2013; Kearney et al., 2009; Klein et al., 2010). Public sector
entrepreneurship (PSE) is broadly theorised as a process that exists within public sector
organisations that result in innovative activities such as the development of new and
existing services, technologies, administrative techniques and new improved strategies
(Kearney and Meynhardt, 2016; Morris and Jones, 1999). Strow and Strow (2018) point out
that PSE is just one aspect of a broader good governance literature where knowledge on
PSE has expanded with research conducted in fields diverse as political science, economics,
management and public policy.
Alongside knowledge growth on PSE, developments in public sector management have
illustrated theneed to understand how entrepreneurship can be encouraged withinthe public
sphere (Currie et al., 2008; Fedele et al., 2016). Several researchers have advocated
entrepreneurshipas a means for public bureaucraciesand governmental entities to transform
themselves into flexible and proactive organisations that provide enhanced services through
ongoing innovation (Mack et al., 2008; Sadler, 2000; Walker, 2014). Despite governments
around the world,complaining about the absence ofentrepreneurial behaviour in theirpublic
sectors very little has been written about PSE and entrepreneurial orientation (EO) (Morris
and Jones, 1999; Ozcan and Reichstein, 2009). It also remains unclear to what extent
organisational variables such as structure and culture influence public sector managers to
attain higher levelsof EO (Kearney et al., 2009; Kim, 2010 ; Meynhardt and Diefenb ach, 2012).
Journal of Entrepreneurship and
Public Policy
Vol. 8 No. 4, 2019
pp. 500-512
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/JEPP-08-2019-112
Received 3 January 2019
Accepted 12 March 2019
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT