oa The African Journal of Information and Communication - E-Toll roads : analysing a case of collective moral disengagement in an e-government project : challenges in leadership of ICT policy and e-development

Volume 2013, Issue 13
  • ISSN : 2077-7205
  • E-ISSN: 2077-7213



There has been little research that examines how public managers involved in e-government decisionmaking can sometimes negatively affect the welfare of citizens and waste public resources. This case study analyses collective moral disengagement mechanisms used by leaders and their subordinates to justify a controversial urban e-tolling project in South Africa. Using deductive content analysis, legal documents and public records were coded for modes of moral disengagement. The results show that public managers morally exonerated their decision: by endowing it with socially worthy purposes; euphemistic labelling; displacing and diffusing responsibility; downplaying negative consequences; making favourable comparisons; and disparaging and blaming opposing groups. Enhancements to existing governance frameworks and broader societal safeguards are recommended to prevent moral transgressions and improve e-government decisionmaking. Specific tactics for reputation rebuilding are also recommended when the publicity of alleged moral transgressions is high. Further research is needed to investigate how e-government leaders and broader social actors can engage public managers to enhance transparency and accountability.

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