The Developmental Leadership Program: research on leadership and the politics of development

dlp banner snapshotA prestigious international research initiative, the Developmental Leadership Program, has made its home at IDD with funding in place to continue its work for the next three years.

The agreement between the University of Birmingham and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) was finalised in March 2014. It establishes the research team’s hub at IDD, where DLP’s recently appointed Director of Research, Dr Heather Marquette, is Reader in Development Politics. The DLP team will soon establish partnerships with other leading academic institutions around the world.

DLP was founded by the late Dr Adrian Leftwich in close association with Steve Hogg, senior governance specialist at what was then AusAID.

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.

The deeper understanding that DLP is helping to provide on the politics of development is crucial in making aid more effective and to helping people overcome poverty. World Bank Vice President Sanjay Pradhan, who worked closely with DLP in its early days, said recently that, in order to deliver results on aid, "…we need to not only strengthen technical skills but importantly leadership and coalition building skills to manage political economy obstacles and make change happen".

DLP's work has been widely praised. Oxfam’s influential international aid commentator Duncan Green has referred to DLP research more than once in his widely read blog and says: "…the Developmental Leadership Program explores a much neglected topic… It’s doing some great work."

And DLP’s research has proved its worth in the field. Its findings have influenced more than AU$ 1 billion of aid programming since 2006, and it has been described as one of the Australian aid program’s flagship research initiatives.

DLP’s reach is wide-ranging; the DLP team is working with agencies including the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the United Nations Development Programme, and the UK Government’s Department for International Development.

See DLP’s latest news and join the conversation on DLP’s opinions page.

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