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Shifting sands: interpreting 'developmental' leadership in the Pacific islands

Shifting sands: interpreting 'developmental' leadership in the Pacific islands
Shifting sands: interpreting 'developmental' leadership in the Pacific islands
The capacity for leadership, including political leadership, to improve development outcomes has attracted recent interest within development studies and associated donor agencies. This new approach is a welcome critique of the broadly institutionalist outlook of the good governance agenda; however, there is a mismatch between the desire to ‘bring the agency back in’ and the commitment of the Developmental Leadership Programme's (DLP's) to positivism, and, despite claims to the contrary, structuralism. Instead, I argue that interpretivism, with its emphasis on the meanings and beliefs of human actors, can augment this approach by providing a fundamentally different view of the agency question that sits at the heart of the DLP's research programme. To illustrate this point, I draw from my own research into the life stories of politicians from the Pacific Islands. In contrast to the dead weight of multiple variables and formal laws, I find that political life is embedded within the distinctively human realm of interpersonal action and that while leaders implicitly believe in their own agency, they also commonly experience a sense of powerlessness that stems in no small part from the inherent contingency and uncertainty of all policy-making.
0803-9410
491-509
Corbett, Jack
ad651655-ac70-4072-a36f-92165e296ce2
Corbett, Jack
ad651655-ac70-4072-a36f-92165e296ce2

Corbett, Jack (2013) Shifting sands: interpreting 'developmental' leadership in the Pacific islands. Forum for Development Studies, 40 (3), 491-509. (doi:10.1080/08039410.2013.799097).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The capacity for leadership, including political leadership, to improve development outcomes has attracted recent interest within development studies and associated donor agencies. This new approach is a welcome critique of the broadly institutionalist outlook of the good governance agenda; however, there is a mismatch between the desire to ‘bring the agency back in’ and the commitment of the Developmental Leadership Programme's (DLP's) to positivism, and, despite claims to the contrary, structuralism. Instead, I argue that interpretivism, with its emphasis on the meanings and beliefs of human actors, can augment this approach by providing a fundamentally different view of the agency question that sits at the heart of the DLP's research programme. To illustrate this point, I draw from my own research into the life stories of politicians from the Pacific Islands. In contrast to the dead weight of multiple variables and formal laws, I find that political life is embedded within the distinctively human realm of interpersonal action and that while leaders implicitly believe in their own agency, they also commonly experience a sense of powerlessness that stems in no small part from the inherent contingency and uncertainty of all policy-making.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 6 June 2013
Organisations: Politics & International Relations

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 388692
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/388692
ISSN: 0803-9410
PURE UUID: 1267ce1d-028d-490d-8616-bf7fb368c7c3
ORCID for Jack Corbett: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2005-7162

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 01 Mar 2016 13:48
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 02:11

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