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The Design and Implementation of Business Process Reengineering in the Ethiopian Public Sector An Assessment of Four Organizations

The Design and Implementation of Business Process Reengineering in the Ethiopian Public Sector
An Assessment of Four Organizations


Tesfaye Debela
Atkilt Hagos


In 1996, the Ethiopian government introduced the Civil Service Reform Program (CSRP) to disentangle the intricacies of the old bureaucratic system, and to build a fair, responsible, efficient, ethical and transparent civil service that accelerates and sustains the economic development of the country. However, lack of competent personnel, prevalence of attitudinal problems and absence of a strong institutional framework constrained the success of the reform. To reinvigorate the CSRP, the Ethiopian government has been implementing BPR in public organizations since 2004. In this regard, there are claims and counter-claims on the effectiveness of BPR implementation in improving the performance of public organizations. Motivated by such claims, this research has assessed the design, challenges, implementation and outcome of BPR in four public organizations using questionnaires, interviews, observations and review of secondary sources. About 970 leaders, employees, former reengineering team members and customers responded to the questionnaires and interviews. Quantitative and qualitative methods of data analysis were employed. The findings of the research show that encouraging results have been achieved in terms of efficiency, mission-effectiveness, transparency and minimizing corruption in the case-study organizations. However, our findings also confirm that there are variations among the organizations in meeting their respective BPR objectives. Particularly, CBE and ERCA have been more successful in meeting their BPR objectives than DBE and MoLSA. Findings pertinent to ERCA and CBE show that BPR implementation has increased control in those processes where financial risks are high. Factors that have contributed to the relative success in CBE and ERCA include leadership commitment in managing the change, better design capacity, and cautious empowerment of process owners and employees. In addition, the level of change resistance has revealed that BPR study and implementation had exacerbated the organizational politics between different interest groups. In addition, all the case-study organizations face the challenges in human, technological and material capacities. Besides these challenges, the government needs to exert greater effort to change the attitude of public servants and the political leaders; adopt a holistic and integrated approach in using reform tools; and, consider mission differences when applying a change management tool.

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