May 2010

An Overview of the Research in Progress: The Developmental Leadership Program

Adrian Leftwich

The key contention of the Developmental Leadership Program is that developmental leaderships and coalitions are critical in shaping the kind and quality of institutions and state-building processes, and hence are central to achieving the goals of economic growth, political stability, security and inclusive social development.

The international community has, however, tended to focus largely on institutional and structural solutions to most developmental challenges. While there is no doubt that institutions and structural arrangements matter greatly for all aspects of development, it is also true that institutions are ‘empty boxes’ without the human agents who establish, maintain and implement them. What matters, therefore, for positive economic, political and social outcomes is the presence of developmental leadership.

Accordingly, the over-arching questions which drive the work of the DLP are these:

  • What factors facilitate or frustrate the emergence of developmental leaderships and coalitions, rather then predatory, collusive or rent-seeking ones?
  • What factors shape the relative success or failure of developmental leaderships and coalitions in achieving their aims?
  • What, if any, are the common empirical characteristics of developmental leaderships?
  • What policy and operational implications flow from the findings?
  • What, if anything, can or should external agents do to facilitate the emergence of developmental leadership and coalitions?

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An Overview of the Research in Progress: The Developmental Leadership Program

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