'Power, Politics and Positive Deviance' - DLP Annual Conference 2016

Statue of Charles La Trobe, La Trobe University Campus, Melbourne, which, says sculptor Charles Robb, embodies the principle that universities should turn ideas on their heads. (Photo: Phil Lees, Flickr)8 February 2016, La Trobe University, Melbourne


See our blog posts on 'power, politics and positive deviance'

See FP2P review of Pascale, Sternin & Sternin's book The Power of Positive Deviance

We were delighted to welcome 150 delegates to this event, to discuss cases of positive deviance that show how an understanding of power and politics has been successfully incorporated into social change processes. 

Speakers shared examples from the Pacific region and from Indigenous Australia. Presentations focused on women’s leadership and collective action, gay rights, peace processes and private sector reform. The conference assessed the degree to which these cases show how developmental change happens in practice; the role of power and politics in that process; and how development agencies might change their policies and practices to best support this.

Explore videos, podcasts and presentations below, and see more details on the conference speakers and their presentations (pdf).

Chris Roche's welcome to the DLP Annual Conference 2016

Adrian Leftwich Memorial Lecture 2016: Politics, Power and Positive Deviance -
alancing political sensitivity and positive deviance

Anna Naupa (Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat)

Using the example of land reform in Vanuatu, Anna Naupa explored how best to think about the practicalities of progressive change and how change happens. She considered what change agents need to do differently to support change at different levels, and implications for donor agencies. View PDF of slides


Regionalism, Coalition Building and the Pacific

A conversation between Nic Maclellan and Anna Naupa

Session 1: Marginality & Politics: Who are you calling deviant?

Chair: Heather Marquette (DLP)

Power, Politics and Coalitions in the Pacific

Gillian Fletcher (DLP)

Gillian shared findings from DLP research exploring how five informal coalitions engaged with different dimensions of power. View PDF of slides


Poor People’s Politics: A Structural Political Economy Approach

Jane Hutchison (Murdoch University)

Jane discussed poor people’s responses to programs of which they are the intended beneficiaries, focusing on the urban poor in the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia. View PDF of slides


Politics and sexual rights

Dennis Altman (La Trobe University)

Dennis drew on his new book, Queer Wars, to discuss politics and sexual rights.


Session 2: Positive Deviance in Indigenous Australia

Chair: Linda Kelly (La Trobe University)


The Central Land Council’s community development work

David Ross & Danielle Campbell (Central Land Council)

David and Danielle discussed how the CLC’s community development work has managed to achieve relative success despite an inauspicious and ever-changing policy environment. View PDF of slides


The work of The Healing Foundation

Richard Weston (The Healing Foundation)

Richard drew on examples of how the Healing Foundation builds culturally strong, community-led healing solutions, and the impact this has in enabling individuals and their communities to overcome intergenerational trauma. 
View PDF of slides



Session 3: Power and Politics: Peace and Security

Chair: Sarah Phillips (University of Sydney)


Politics, power and peace processes

Jasmine-Kim Westendorf (La Trobe University)

Jasmine discussed why peace processes so often fail to consolidate peace, and drew on her new book Why Peace Processes Fail: Negotiating Insecurity after Civil War.


Service delivery and social stability in Lebanon

Alina Rocha Menocal & Suda Perera (DLP)

Suda discussed how the massive influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon has increased pressure on the provision of vital public services at municipal level and heightened inter-group tensions.


Reform coalitions and the politics of private sector reform: telecommunications in Myanmar

David Hudson & Niheer Dasandi (DLP)

Niheer discussed this DLP research project exploring the recent reform of the telecommunications sector in Myanmar. See also David and Niheer's blog post.


Session 4: Power, Politics and Deviance of Approaches: Gender in the Pacific

Chair: Tait Brimacombe (DLP)


Thinking and working politically to increase the political participation of women in Samoa

Lemalu Sina Retzlaff (Pacific Leadership Program)

Sina explored how ‘thinking and working politically’ is a form of positive devianceView PDF of slides


The Women in Shared Decision Making coalition, Vanuatu

Benedicta Rousseau (University of Waikato, NZ)

Benedicta discussed the work of the Women in Shared Decision Making (WISDM) coalition, which the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) has been supporting since 2012 through Vanuatu’s Department of Women’s Affairs.


The political journey of Roshika Deo in Fiji’s 2014 elections

Priya Chattier (State, Society and Governance in Melanesia, Australian National University)

Priya discussed the exceptional performance of Roshika Deo, an independent female candidate in Fiji’s general elections of September 2014. View PDF of slides and Priya's blog post.


The ‘So What?’ Final Panel

Michael Wilson (Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) (4 mins)



Alex Frankel (Communication strategist) (4 mins)


Theresa Meki (Australian National University) (3 mins)


Jo Crawford (International Women's Development Agency) (5 mins)


Q&A session (20 mins)

Chair: David Hudson (DLP)

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.

Find out more


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