Leadership for Transformational Change in Africa: new research project

Africa has a ‘leadership crisis’, according to much of the literature. Yet very little research has focused on what can be done to tackle the problems of corruption, neopatrimonialism and ‘big man’ politics that many see as symptoms of this crisis.

A new DLP project, Leadership for Transformational Change in Africa, is attempting to fill this gap by rejecting the usual management perspective approach of seeing leadership as an individual trait or characteristic. Instead this initiative is exploring leadership as a process, with particular focus on the politics of leadership.  It is sponsored by the Uongozi Institute for Leadership for Sustainable Development and research data will be gathered by a team of experienced African researchers.

Fieldwork has now been finalised on eight leadership case studies in four African countries: Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana and South Africa. The case studies were selected during a six-month process of peer review and workshops. They cover a wide mix of levels and sectors; the regional, national and subnational operations of sectors such as politics, business and the military.

They also consider issues of gender. In Tanzania, for instance, women have historically been excluded from decision-making bodies. Yet since 1993 an increasingly active women’s movement in has played a crucial role in development such as gender-responsive budgeting, voter education, voter manifestos, and women’s special seats. This case study will examine the collective leadership and vision that helped to achieve this.

The research team will be asking how and where developmental leadership emerges, and how can it be nurtured and supported. They hope to identify the circumstances under which transformational leadership leads to sustainable developmental change.

A mid-term workshop will be held in Pretoria later this year, and the final report is expected to be ready for publication in 2016.

Image: A small business owner, Ghana (Arne Hoel / The World Bank).

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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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