Transnational leadership in the Pacific Islands

Jack Corbett, Roannie Ng Shiu, George Carter, Edmond S. Fehoko

Complex settlement network. Photo credit Alec Douglas, Unsplash
Image: Complex settlement network. Photo credit Alec Douglas, Unsplash


How leadership works at the regional level across the Pacific.

  • How do transnational leaders in the Pacific understand their role and function?
  • How were their values and interests formed?
  • How do they collectively influence institutions, be they local, regional or international?
  • How can internal and external actors facilitate the development of transnational leadership cohorts?


How regional leaders come to be leaders, what motivates them, and how they achieve change while balancing their national and international commitments.


Existing research on developmental leadership has tended to focus on national or subnational actors. This project will extend this agenda, by taking the innovative step of studying transnational Pacific leaders, examining their pathways in and through leadership roles, their motivations and intentions, and the ways they juggle local and international obligations.

Transnational leadership in the Pacific is especially important as a key site of contestation between an increasingly assertive China and ‘traditional’ donors such as Australia and New Zealand. To achieve this, we will apply the methodological approach of previous DLP research on ‘positive outliers’ to Pacific Island leaders occupying prominent roles in regional and international institutions. Specifically, it will build on the biographical approach developed in the Being the First publication (Spark et al 2018).

We will seek to construct life histories of these leaders that establish their pathways in and through transnational leadership roles. By doing so we will be able to look beyond the types of cold facts and dead variables common to many studies of leadership characteristics.

Jack Corbett, Principal Investigator


Jack Corbett (PI), University of Southampton

Roannie Ng Shiu, The Australian National University

George Carter, The Australian National University

Edmond Fehoko, University of Auckland


Pacific (regional-level)

Map to highlight research countries, Pacific Islands


March 2020 - December 2022



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Jack Corbett

Jack Corbett

Professor of Politics, University of Southampton.

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Roannie Ng Shiu

Convenor of Pacific Studies and Research Fellow, the Australian National University

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George Carter

George Carter

Research Fellow in Geopolitics and Regionalism, Department of Pacific Affairs, the Australian National University

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Edmond S. Fehoko

Health Research Council of New Zealand Pacific Postdoctoral Fellow

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