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

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development. Supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), now in a third phase of funding (2019 – 2023), DLP is exploring four core research questions focusing on leadership for development.

DLP aims to expand and deepen the knowledge base in the area of leadership for development as a political process across many areas of society; health, education, politics, community and business. The challenges we face in society across the world are complex, and finding solutions requires good leadership.

DLP III’s research will be delivered using a collaborative model with researchers and practitioners based in the Asia-Pacific region. Through this, we aim to produce rigorous research that can influence local debates, policies and practice on leadership. As part of the design phase, the team visited key stakeholders in Australia and the Asia-Pacific to hear a wide range of perspectives on how and where our research can make a difference. To view DLP’s geographical focus, we have created a map of projects and countries (see below).

DLP places emphasis on listening to stakeholder views, building strategic partnerships with organisations in the Asia-Pacific region, delivering rigorous, locally-led research, and disseminating it through cutting-edge communications. Through these activities, the new team aims to ensure DLP III meets its potential to shape the agenda around the vital, cross-cutting issue of leadership for development.

The Covid-19 pandemic has served to highlight the importance of DLP’s research and key principles, whilst posing new challenges for the way we do our research. DLP’s understanding of developmental leadership as a local, strategic, political, and collective process has arguably never been more relevant. For more information, visit the DLP COVID-19 project page or see our publication on the important role of localised leadership in the Pacific during the pandemic: Leadership in the shadow of the pandemic.

We have six current research projects:

DLP was founded by the late Dr Adrian Leftwich in close association with Steve Hogg, Senior Governance Specialist in the Australian Aid agency (formerly AusAID).

For more information on DLP projects, publications and opinions, please visit the DLP website including a synthesis of 10 years of research ‘Inside the Black Box of Political Will’ which analyses the findings of DLP phases I and II.

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