Improving service delivery in the public sector is researcher’s aim

Poor service delivery is a problem throughout South Africa, but one North-West University (NWU) academic, Prof Costa Hofisi, is doing something about it. Using his research expertise, he has set his sights on contributing to service delivery improvements in the public sector.   

His research focuses on the extent to which the public sector will be successful in responding to citizens’ demands and improving the quality and innovativeness of public services.

Prof Hofisi, who recently received a C3 rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF), says he is working in partnership with a local authority in South Africa to develop an innovative mobile application for service delivery communication between all residents in that municipality and the officials responsible for service provision.

“This reporting application will allow all residents, young and old, to communicate easily with the local authority regarding any service provision issue. It will allow e-participation by residents in governance affairs affecting them, thereby fostering civic engagement and open and participatory governance.”

He has already initiated the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the NWU and the municipality.

Cited more than 400 times

Prof Hofisi is considered an authority on innovation in the public sector, having received 470 citations for his published work in the past eight years, equating to an h-index of 8 and an i10-index of 7.

His ongoing and future research on innovation in public service delivery will be focusing on three fronts: theoretical, policy and methodological matters.

“Public sector innovation currently suffers from theoretical underdevelopment and a need therefore exists for the theorisation of innovation in the public sector. This theorisation should have a global scale and impact, and should not be limited to the Global South. In the light of the debate on the decolonisation of the curriculum, it is important for me as researcher to conceptualise and theorise innovation from an Afrocentric perspective.”

On the policy front, the plethora of service delivery protests in South Africa are indicative of the failure of the government across the national, provincial and local spheres to deliver service effectively and efficiently to its citizenry. Prof Hofisi is confident that the mobile application he is involved in developing will help improve service delivery by facilitating communication.

On the methodological front, a comprehensive review of existing literature shows that more cross-national comparative studies need to be conducted, especially studies that compare public sector innovations in the Global North and the Global South, Prof Hofisi says.

“A considerable portion of the literature indicates that qualitative studies are currently dominant and therefore there is a need for quantitative studies on public sector innovation globally. My research will therefore be geared more towards quantitative approaches to close this literature gap.”

About the researcher

Prof Costa Hofisi is a C3 NRF-rated researcher who graduated in 2011 with a PhD in development studies from the University of Fort Hare and has a master’s degree in public administration. Currently, he is employed as a founding research director and professor of Afrocentric Governance of Public Affairs, a research entity at the NWU.

Prof Costa Hofisi of the Afrocentric Governance of Public Affairs research entity.

Submitted on Thu, 03/02/2023 - 11:38