n Journal of Public Administration - Research and knowledge management gaps in African election management bodies : a dilemma for governance and electoral democracy?

Volume 48, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Research and knowledge management (RKM) are arguably the fundamental basis upon which their success or survival rests in many organisations. Yet, these critical tools for supporting and measuring an organisation's performance in an information age, are often found wanting in African election management bodies (EMBs). The resultant gaps threaten smooth governance in these institutions; and a lack of empirical research and relevant infrastructure in turn affect the governance of elections in these countries. Finally, this situation normally affects governance processes countrywide as it affects political parties and other stakeholders. This paper examines the challenges and gaps facing selected African EMBs in terms of research and knowledge management, focusing on the effects of such gaps on governance processes in the EMBs and in their countries. It is argued that EMBs are globally important vehicles through which democratic governance and electoral democracy could be shared with the electorate; and that such bodies must utilise research findings and reliable knowledge management (KM) practices if they are to promote sound governance practices in their countries. Through a review of the literature, official reports, relevant African Union charters and a questionnaire, which was completed by election officials from selected African countries, it contends that African EMBs do not prioritise research and knowledge management in their operations. It makes recommendations on possible solutions to challenges analysed based on the discussions that the author had with the officials concerned. The author posits that, where knowledge management and research are prioritised in an EMB, the financial and other resources they enjoy are inadequate to cover a whole spectrum of activities which would significantly boost internal governance mechanisms and in turn strengthen governance processes countrywide. It will conclude that these gaps weaken governance in the EMBs election management and undermine democratic governance in their countries.

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