Different But Still The Same? How Public And Private Sector Organisations Deal with New Digital Competences

Hofmann S, Ogonek N

One of the greatest challenges that digitalisation brings along for the public sector is the need to equip their employees with digital competences. Since private sector companies are often assumed more progressive in exploiting digital media, it seems worthwhile for the public sector to understand how the need for digital competences is addressed by the private sector. However, the public sector needs to be careful before transferring solutions from the private sector one‑on‑one as both sectors exhibit various differences. Our aim in this study is therefore, to analyse which digital competences are needed by employees in both sectors and how the employees are equipped with these competences. In doing so, we have conducted 17 interviews in German public and private sector organisations. Our results exhibit only marginal differences between public and private sector organisations. Furthermore, we find that rather than being able to handle IT, the most important competences in the digital era are soft skills such as time and self‑management as well as to understand the impact of digitalisation in general. In the private sector, analytical skills are furthermore important for developing new business opportunities. In order to equip employees with the required competences, training plays an important role in both sectors. Based on our results, we enhance an existing framework of digital competences by adding the dimension impact awareness in order to provide for the required ability to evaluate the impact of digitalisation on processes and activities outside of the digital world.

digitalisation; competences; public sector; private sector; training

Publication type
Research article (journal)

Peer reviewed

Publication status


The Electronic Journal of e-Government (EJEG)



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