DSA2018: Global inequalities
- Kelechi Ekuma (University of Manchester) email
- Rory Stanton (University of Manchester) email
- Jaco Renken (University of Manchester) email
- Violeta Schubert (University of Melbourne) email
This interdisciplinary panel explores the nature and changing contexts of leadership in international development, highlighting the influence of 'development leaders' on policy reforms and the resolution of wicked and complex social problems including inequalities.
The vital role played by leaders in advancing or retarding development reforms and in overcoming complex and wicked social problems such as inequalities is now widely acknowledged in the literature. This importance is perhaps, more crucial for fragile and developing countries (DCs), where written laws often bend under the weight of informality and rules of the game. Within this context, it appears that beyond structures and formal institutions, development leaders and their coalitions have significant influence in the development process, providing the agency required for improving organisational and state capacities and helping develop endogenous institutions that promote inclusive growth and reduction of inequalities. Despite this recognition, however, it is somewhat surprising that the study of leadership has hardly been a central issue in development policy theorising. Apart from recent claims that 'leadership matters' for growth and development, the concept is still largely framed in managerial or organizational constructs; even as there has been little systematic analysis of the idea of 'development leadership' and what this means in practice or how it can be leveraged to advance inclusive development within hybridized and evolving institutional contexts which characterize many DCs.
This panel explores the nature and changing contexts of leadership in international development and the influence of 'development leaders' on policy reforms and the resolution of wicked and complex social problems such as inequalities. We invite papers that critically explore the theoretical/empirical dimensions of development leadership as well as those that examine the varied ways in which development leaders can contribute to the reduction of global inequalities in contemporary developing contexts.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Theorising development leadership: Ideas, dynamics and competencies
What is unique about leadership in global development and how can 'new' approaches to leadership help tackle development challenges, including inequalities? This paper explores the idea of development leadership, highlighting the essential dynamics that distinguish it from other leadership theories.
The challenges confronting global development in contemporary contexts have become increasingly complex, wicked and contested. Tackling complex and wicked problems such as inequalities and poverty, for example, do not have predictable outcomes, as doing one thing does not merely lead to another. This implies that standardised approaches to addressing these kinds of issues are unlikely to yield many results as there is no guarantee that any particular method will be successful. Dealing with these problems, therefore, requires a heterodox approach and a careful consideration of the uncertainties and interests inherent in the development process as well as the dynamics of power relations among key actors. These challenges place fresh demands for higher efficiency in leading the development process and require individuals who have the skills and competencies to balance these contradictions while being able to deal with different stakeholder groups efficiently. These emerging competencies form the basis of development leadership, and there is a strong case to suggest that this perspective to leadership is unique and topical, but has inexplicably received very little attention from scholars and practitioners alike. In this paper, I examine the idea of development leadership (DL) and explore the essential dynamics that makes it distinctive from other leadership theories/perspectives. I argue that DL should be seen as a relationship-based social process influenced by local norms and politics, and conclude by positioning key conceptual and competency areas which are considered essential to the advancement of DL as a new field of enquiry and professional practice.
Shifts in Development Leadership: From Heroes to Champions
Consensus exists over the importance of leaders and other key individual actors in international development. However, consensus is elusive about the kinds of leaders and leadership roles required in development initiatives. The paper examines development champions arguing the merits for such roles.
Fads such as 'Big Man Theory' and its demise have tarnished interest in anything related to leadership in development. For the past many years, leaders have been conceptualised as heroic individuals. However, increased complexity of development initiatives - the wickedness of the problems and the depth of inequalities - cannot be dealt with by a lone ranger approach anymore; it requires different kinds of leadership. What could such leadership look like?
To explore this question, the leadership styles of three champions of successful information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) initiatives in South Africa were explored. It was found that ICT4D champions mostly use transformational leadership style influencing tactics - charisma and idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration - to move stakeholders to achieve intended results, but they would include a contingent reward approach - a transactional leadership factor - in situations that require such actions. While leadership behaviours differ from one champion to the next, being inspirational role models of commitment was found as a shared and central aspect of their orientations to lead development initiatives towards success.
These findings provide support for kindling a renewed interest in leadership and agency in development practice; it specifically offers a way through the quagmire of dead-ends of past 'leadership fads'. The paper posits that champions should form part of a range of leadership roles in the development sector because of the actionable implications that can be drawn from the findings for identifying, developing, deploying and supporting such individuals.
Development Leadership and Sustainable Development Goals: An African Perspective
The paper contributes to the emerging discourse on global development from an African perspective and seeks to explore the nexus between individual capabilities and development with the view to analytically demonstrate how development leadership can provide a platform for actualizing the SDGs.
Development leadership provides an overarching mechanism for the actualization of Sustainable Development Goals - evident in many advanced economies. Also, it fosters the expansion of capacity to maximally perform within the framework of growing individuals capabilities for strategic development. However, capabilities on its own do not automatically translate to development without an effective leadership configurations in place that is specifically designed to harness capabilities and utilize the same to attain development goals. While it is true that quality leadership significantly contributed to the development of the First World, on the contrary the opposite is the case in most Third World nations particularly in Africa where leadership failures have over the years undermined development programmes. It is therefore crucial to highlight some of these leadership challenges hindering the attainment of SDGs in Africa such as the elimination of extreme poverty and unemployment. The duo, more than any other social issue have continued to constitute threats to the continent's development unabated. It is against this backdrop, that the paper argues that the Africa's underdevelopment arising from many years of leadership deficiencies is highly likely to worsen should the continent fail to adopt and correctly implement inclusive social development policies, sustainable economic growth, and political stability. It concludes by providing policy recommendations that will help in actualizing the SDGs in Africa.
The leadership deficit and development exceptionalism: exploring the utility of 'culture' as resource and explanation
This paper explores the multiplicity of ways that the term 'culture' is drawn upon in reference to the so-called leadership imperatives and deficit in which 'values' and 'morality' serves as leitmotif for development exceptionalism.
This paper explores the multiplicity of ways that culture is drawn upon in reference to the so-called 'leadership deficit' in development. The development sector is arguably in a state of crisis. For some, this is a wake up call that compels reflection of the modus operendi while for others it is a matter of educating the non-initiates of development exceptionalism; the unique challenges associated with the sector in navigating through complex terrains of environment, relationships and resources. Irrespective, the scrutiny of global development is intense, and the failures in systems, structures and processes are presumed to be addressable through intervention that is typically framed as a 'change in culture' that can only be enacted through what is typically referred to as 'moral leadership'.
The anomaly of drawing on 'culture' as a shortcut reference for what needs to change, however, is that the implicit meaning of the term is taken for granted as residing within shared values, beliefs and practices. And yet, the very notion of leadership suggests that the capacity and will of particular individuals to steer the collective is paramount. The tensions in the relational dynamics between individual-collective, leader-follower, and global-local are explored through the paradigms of the leadership imperatives and deficit in which 'Values' serve as leitmotif for development. I draw on Herzfeld's (2005) notion of 'cultural intimacy' to juxtaposition the reference to culture as an instrumental or explanatory tool with the various ways of revealing and hiding what is 'known' that is innate within the development sector.
Villainy or Conflict of Interest? Assessing the Trump, Suu Kyi and Buhari Leaderships and the Implications for the Future Trends of Minority Group Voting Behaviour.
Development leadership is almost elusive where there are several contending interests to satisfy. This is more so when the leader appears to epitomize positions socially exclusive of minority interests thereby further ingraining inherent inequality and heightening tensions that agitate the polity.
Groups of people desire to be ably represented with their rights and privileges guaranteed by the popularly elected government of their nation. This rings truer with minority groups unlisted among the main racial, ethnic or religious groups by which the nation is identified. They tend to be overshadowed by overarching policy processes and actions which largely favour the more easily identifiable majority groups. This paper assessed the governments of Donald Trump of the United States, Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria based on the pre-electoral victory expectations, the post-electoral realities inherent in their indigenous societies as well as the reactions emanating from their electorates. The paper relied solely on a qualitative research design in evaluating some major events that have unfolded in the course of the administration of governance processes in each of these nations vis-à-vis the promises made to and the expectations of their respective citizens. It basically assessed the extent to which these processes have either further deepened or assuaged the racial, ethno-religious and socio-economic divides and tensions that had long bedeviled their societies. These analyses expectedly provided springboards on which projections on the future trends of voting behavior of minority groups were made. Strategies that derived from the very characteristics for which these nations are noted and by which they are identified were suggested for reinventing these societies in order to checkmate the deeply-ingrained social injustice and disequilibrium and enhance national unity.
Key Words: Governance, Leadership, Minority Group, Social Injustice, Voting Behaviour.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.