Risk leadership in a South African provincial government department
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This exploratory qualitative study focuses on risk leadership as a specified and important part of the leadership required within a South African provincial treasury department. This is a particularly topical issue given observed public sector failures and the expectation for treasury departments to provide leadership over equitable allocation and optimal utilisation of provincial resources. The study sought to explore risk leadership in a South African provincial treasury government department as reflected in annual reporting. This was done through a literature review, from which an initial thematic codebook was derived to provide the basis for the study design. Next, a document analysis was completed of audited annual reports of the selected provincial treasury department, focusing on the period 2017–2019. The study provides a baseline for risk leadership in a South African provincial treasury department before the National State of Disaster was pronounced to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve codes were generated from the literature review and compared to the codes extracted from the document analysis of the annual reports. The findings portray a dichotomy of risk leadership provided by the provincial treasury environment. This two-sided risk leadership phenomenon relates to internal risk leadership, within the treasury itself, and external risk leadership offered to the public sector institutions overseen by the treasury. A more critical question that follows this main finding is whether the treasury is sufficiently well-positioned and capacitated to execute its external risk leadership mandate effectively. The study also offers a useful reference point for conceptualising future academic studies on risk leadership, and an invitation for scholars and risk professionals to make further contributions in the crucial area of risk leadership in the public sector context.