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Innovating with government digital platforms in low-income countries: the dynamic capabilities of Woredas in Ethiopia

Debas Senshaw (Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia)
Hossana Twinomurinzi (Department of Applied Information Systems, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management

ISSN: 2053-4620

Article publication date: 28 May 2021




This paper aims to identify the dynamic capabilities of government organisations in Woredas of Ethiopia that digitally innovate on the existing government digital platform, the WoredaNet.


The study adopted a qualitative interpretive case study strategy using three government administrative regions in Ethiopia (called Woredas), which digitally innovate using the government digital platform, the WoredaNet. A structured interview protocol was implemented for data collection. In total, 5 respondents representing users, information and communication technology (ICT) staff and management were selected from each of the Woredas (districts), yielding a total of 15 respondents.


Drawing from the dynamic capabilities literature, the findings reveal that the digital platform governance model plays the strongest role in digital government innovation. Specifically, the Woredas exhibit highly developed adaptive capabilities through learning from the affordances offered by the digital platform. Also, despite the collaborative nature of their absorptive capabilities, there are no clear organisational structures to manifest these capabilities (integrating new learnings). The innovative capabilities (creating digital government products or service innovations) are constrained by the governance model, which is centralised in one ICT unit.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to one of the Regional States of Ethiopia. Further studies would be needed to consider other regional states and more Woredas.

Practical implications

The research provides a means through which dynamic capabilities can improve digital innovation on government digital platforms, despite the scarcity of resources, especially in low-income countries.


The paper contributes to digital government and dynamic capability literature in revealing how digital innovations in government agencies might be organisationally enhanced through distributed digital platform governance models.



Funding. No funding was provided for the research.


Senshaw, D. and Twinomurinzi, H. (2021), "Innovating with government digital platforms in low-income countries: the dynamic capabilities of Woredas in Ethiopia", Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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