The Role and Requisite Competencies of the Public Sector CIO: a Two‑sided Perspective


  • Val Hooper
  • Beverley Bunker


Keywords: CIO, competency, knowledge, role, public sector, dyadic approach


Abstract: A considerable body of research exists on the role, and desired capabilities and competencies of the CIO. However, most of these studies have been executed in large, private sector organizations. It seems that the challenges faced by public sector CIOs are often very different to those in the private sector, and this might place different requirements on them in terms of knowledge and competence, as well as the roles they fulfil. To date, there has been little exploration into such requirements in public entities. To address this gap, exploratory research was conducted into the role and competency expectations of CIOs in the public sector, and into the impact of the public sector context. A dyadic approach, involving both CIOs and their business colleagues, was adopted in order to gain more meaningful insights. Semi‑structured interviews were conducted with both the CIO and the head of their main internal business partner of 17 local government organizations. The findings indicate that the CIOs and their business partners differ significantly in their views of required competencies. The business partners require a business knowledge and focus similar to theirs, and most manifest scant regard for the technical expertise necessary or the technical requirements of the organization. IT is there to support them. The government environment often places more onerous constraints on CIOs than in the private sector, especially so in terms of reporting level; the ability to influence strategy; decision making flexibility; and resourcing. The findings from this research extend the application of the RBV and also provide greater understanding of the competencies and roles of the CIO. It also provides insights for recruiters of public service IT professionals and CIOs, human resources managers, as well as for providers of training programmes.



1 Oct 2013