Tim Kelsall

Tim Kelsall

Tim Kelsall is a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute in London. He specialises in political economy analysis and political anthropology, and has interests in governance, democracy, transitional justice, economic growth, education, and health. He has worked in several developing countries, including Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Cambodia. He holds a PhD from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

Prior to joining ODI, he taught politics and development studies at the universities of Oxford and Newcastle, and edited the journal African Affairs. He has published extensively on issues of politics and development in Africa and Asia. His latest book is Business, Politics, and the State in Africa: Rethinking the orthodoxies on growth and transformation (Zed Books, 2013).


Authoritarianism, democracy and development

27th November 2014

What does the evidence say?

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Is developmental patrimonialism a dead end?

27th September 2016

A few years ago I was involved in a research project that looked at state-business relations and economic growth in post-independence Africa. One of our findings was that several African states had been able to grow strongly, for 15 years or more, despite the absence of what most people would describe as ‘good governance’. In states such as Kenya, Malawi, and Côte d’Ivoire, post-independence strongmen, ‘fathers’ of their nations, had presided over strong growth by curtailing multi-party democracy, centralizing economic rents via the patronage system and carving out some space for long-term technocratic planning. We called this ‘developmental patrimonialism’. 

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How can a high-growth autocracy become a democracy without derailing growth?

28th September 2016

In a previous DLP paper and blog I asked whether governance advisors in high-growth autocracies should seek to promote democracy. The answer was complex, but one of the considerations related to the likely economic effects of the process of transition itself.

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