Inside the black box of political will: 10 years of findings from the Developmental Leadership Program

Developmental leadership is the strategic, collective and political process of building political will to make change happen. It relies on three ingredients.

  • First, on motivated and strategic individuals with the incentives, values, interests and opportunity to push for change.
  • Second, because leadership is fundamentally a collective process, motivated people must overcome barriers to cooperation and form coalitions with sufficient power, legitimacy and influence to build, support or transform institutions.
  • Third, coalitions' power and effectiveness partly hinges on their ability to contest and de-legitimise one set of ideas and legitimise an alternative set. Through this process of contestation, leaders and coalitions challenge, subvert and reformulate institutions in ways that are perceived as locally legitimate and sustainable.

The process is neither neat, nor linear. It is typically messy, protracted and beset by missteps, reversals and trade-offs.

The report also argues that politics and leadership can happen anywhere. 'Politics' is not confined to the arena of government and formal politics – i.e., the institutions of parliament, elections and large bureaucracies. 

The report concludes that the process of developmental leadership can be carefully supported from outside if agencies think and work politically, facilitate effective coalitions, and navigate the politics of legitimacy.

See the full report (35pp) at the link below, and a brief that highlights key points: 
Developmental Leadership: What it is, why it matters, and how it can be supported (8pp; PDF 1.5 MB)

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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News

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Thursday 12th October 2017

In this article in the Journal of International Peacekeeping, DLP researcher Suda Perera critically evaluates crowdsourcing's uses and abuses, and warns against an over-reliance on remotely gathered conflict data.

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Why political settlements matter

Thursday 5th October 2017

Join us on 5 Oct 2017 at ODI (10-11:30am) to discuss the research featured in a special issue of The Journal of International Development co-edited by Alina Rocha Menocal (DLP and ODI) and Jan Pospisil (Political Settlements Research Programme at the University of Edinburgh).

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