Political leadership, regime transitions and economic growth

When it comes to kick-starting growth, evidence from Africa and Southeast Asia suggests that authoritarian regimes have an advantage over democratic regimes. But it also shows that authoritarian regimes are also more prone to growth collapse. This is particularly true of autocratic-authoritarian regimes, which face special problems of political succession. Regimes where authoritarianism is more institutionalised and leadership is more collective fare better. Further, growth regimes often come unstuck during a transition from authoritarianism to democracy. 

All of this prompts the question of whether or not these patterns are universal. If they are, is there a pathway from authoritarianism to democracy that keeps growth on track? 

The transition from kick-starting growth to sustaining it often requires a shift to more inclusive governance. Whether from an autocratic system to a more inclusive or institutionalised authoritarianism, or from authoritarianism to more competitive forms of democracy, the shift poses challenges for political leadership. But we do not understand those challenges well. This study seeks to generate new and systematic knowledge to inform better aid policy and strategic advice for countries undergoing such transitions.


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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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Thursday 7th July 2016

Political settlements in Africa, the politics of inclusion and the role of international actors were the focus of the most recent BISA Africa Working Group workshop, convened by DLP Research Fellow Suda Perera at the University of Birmingham.

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