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Performance measurement in smart city governance: a case study of an Egyptian city council

Loai Ali Zeenalabden Ali Alsaid (School of Economics, Finance and Accounting, Research Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity, Coventry University, Coventry, UK) (Department of Accounting, Faculty of Commerce, Beni-Suef University, Beni-Suef, Egypt)

Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2042-1168

Article publication date: 12 March 2021

Issue publication date: 31 May 2021




This study seeks to explore the powerful role(s) of institutionalised performance measurement systems or metrics in smart city governance in a politically and militarily sensitive developing country.


This study extends the application and contribution of a multi-level institutional framework to previous management accounting literature on the potential relationship between performance measurement and smart city governance. The value of utilising a multi-level framework is to broaden and deepen theoretical analyses about this relationship to include the effect of political pressure from the military regime at the macro level on the institutionalisation of a performance measurement system at the micro-organisational level. Taking the New Cairo city council smart electricity networks project (Egypt) as an interpretive qualitative single-case study, data collection methods included semi-structured interviews, direct observations and documentary readings.


Performance measurement systems or metrics, especially in politically and militarily sensitive smart cities, constitutes a process of cascading (macro-micro) institutionalisation that is closely linked to sustainable developments taking place in the wider arena of urban policies. Going a step further, accounting-based performance metrics, arising from political and military pressures towards public-private collaborations, contribute to smart city management and accountability (governance). Institutionalised measurement systems or performance metrics play a powerful accounting role(s) in shaping and reshaping political decisions and military actions in the city council.


Theoretically, this study goes beyond the cascading institutionalisation process by arguing for the powerful role(s) of institutionalised accounting and performance measurement systems in smart city decision-making and governance. Empirically, it enriches previous literature with a case study of a developing Arab Spring country, characterised by an emerging economy, political sensitivity and military engagement, rather than developed and more stable countries that have been thoroughly investigated. It is also among the first politically engaged accounting case studies to highlight public-private collaborations as a recent reform in public sector governance and accountability.



The author would like to thank the editor-in-chief and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions during the review process. Special thanks should go to The UK's Open University for its financial support during the data collection process in Egypt (FBL seed-corn funding, budget code LR201601QRQ08). This paper is part of the author's research project entitled “Accounting and Smart Cities in Developing Countries”. The author’s thanks should also go to the participants of the 2018 Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting (IPA) Conference at the University of Edinburgh, UK, for their helpful comments on the early version and their encouragement to continue work on this project.


Alsaid, L.A.Z.A. (2021), "Performance measurement in smart city governance: a case study of an Egyptian city council", Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 395-430.



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