A prestigious international research initiative, the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP), has made its home at the University of Birmingham with funding in place to continue its work for the next three years. The new research grant marks a first step towards the consolidation of the Developmental Leadership Program as a global partnership.

The agreement between the University of Birmingham and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) establishes the research team’s hub at Birmingham where DLP’s recently appointed Director of Research, Dr Heather Marquette, is Reader in Development Politics.  


Within the next six months, the DLP team will establish partnerships with other leading academic institutions around the world. DLP is already working closely with senior researchers at University College London and La Trobe University in Melbourne among others.

DLP was founded by the late Dr Adrian Leftwich in close association with Steve Hogg, senior governance specialist at what was then AusAID. The aim was to produce a body of research to fill an important gap in international thinking and policy about the crucial role played by leaders and coalitions in the politics of development. DLP explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development. It has already gathered significant evidence on the role and importance of leadership and coalitions in developmental outcomes in sectors ranging from education to climate change.

Dr Heather Marquette is based in Birmingham’s influential International Development Department (IDD) in the College of Social Sciences. She is also Academic Director of IDD’s research and knowledge management project, the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre (GSDRC), which specialises in issues of governance, social development, humanitarian response and conflict. GSDRC has been providing highly-regarded knowledge services to international development agencies for over a decade, and has been supporting the Australian aid programme since 2009.

Welcoming the new funding, Dr Marquette said: 

“It is a real privilege to lead this next stage of DLP. We have an exciting work plan ahead and look forward to continuing DLP’s long-standing programme of high quality, high impact research that is relevant to today’s development policy challenges.”

DLP’s work has been widely praised with Max Everest-Phillips, Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Centre for Public Service Excellence in Singapore, stating that DLP is “one of the most innovative research programs in international development”. Furthermore, DLP’s research has proved its worth in the field, with its findings influencing more than AU$ 1 billion of aid programming since 2006. Currently, the DLP team is working with agencies including the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the UK Government’s Department for International Development. DLP’s new home at the University of Birmingham will give it greater stability and room for growth.

Commenting on the new agreement, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said:

“The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is proud to be involved in supporting a research initiative that has a niche understanding of the critical role of leaders and coalitions in forging legitimate institutions to promote inclusive economic growth, social development and stability. 

We look forward to working with DLP to progress the practical application of its research findings and generate new ideas about what works for aid investments targeting governance reforms and institutional change.”


Notes to Editors

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  • The University of Birmingham has been named The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year 2013/4. 
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