Adrian Leftwich: 1940 - 2013

"Working on DLP has been the best and most fascinating experience of my life." (Adrian Leftwich, October 2012)

DLP’s inspirational founding Director of Research, Adrian Leftwich, was a highly regarded political scientist who, through DLP and its predecessors, influenced development thinking internationally. Since beginning the research of DLP in 2006, Adrian’s work shaped Australian aid policy, influencing over a billion AU$ of aid programming. Further examples of Adrian’s impact can be seen around the world – from the international Development Assistance Committee, to UK aid policy, to the often illustrious careers of the students he mentored. 

Adrian was a committed and prolific academic, publishing many influential books. These included States of Development: On the Primacy of Politics in Development (2000), Democracy and Development (1995), and Redefining Politics: People’s Nations and Power (1983; 2010). Adrian’s aim was for his work to have practical application – to development policy and practice, to aid effectiveness, and, ultimately, to the lives of poor and disadvantaged people. 

Adrian’s target was to challenge international aid orthodoxy. He sought to help “bring politics back in” and to advance understanding of development as fundamentally a political process. In that spirit, he took the politics-leadership message to intellectual stages across the globe. 

Adrian was a deeply charming, generous and rare soul with an immense desire to learn and to help others learn with him

We’re confident that Adrian achieved his ambition: international aid agencies now recognise and better understand the centrality and complexity of politics in development, the political dynamics of economic growth, and the role of domestic power and leaderships in legitimate institutional change. Adrian’s work contributed to these achievements in no small measure, as the many tributes that flooded in following his death in April 2013 reminded us. And through Adrian’s legacy at DLP and in the field of development politics, he will continue to challenge and to inspire. 

Adrian was a deeply charming, generous and rare soul with an immense desire to learn and to help others learn with him. On the day he was diagnosed with cancer, he somehow took time to provide detailed feedback on a colleague’s manuscript.

We are very moved that, as the quote from Adrian above shows, his years at DLP meant so much to him. But we also know that the most important thing in Adrian’s life was his profound love for and commitment to his children, Maddy and Ben, and our thoughts are with them, as always.

Steve Hogg 

DLP’s founding Program Director


See also Steve Hogg's full tribute to Adrian (April 2013) and some of the many tributes and remembrances we received from around the world.  

About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

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2016 Adrian Leftwich Memorial Lecture

Thursday 27th October 2016

The annual lecture in memory of DLP's founding Director of Research, Adrian Leftwich, will be given this year by Nic van de Walle, Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, on Wednesday, 16 November in Manchester.

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Research evidence presented to International Development Committee

Tuesday 25th October 2016

DLP Research Fellow Suda Perera has presented findings from her research into armed groups and political inclusion in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the UK Parliament's International Development Committee.

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