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Our research work is grounded on the premise that the creation and provision of knowledge on leadership and sustainable development can play an important role in strengthening the capacity and transformation of leadership across the continent. The research also increases our internal knowledge in developing and delivering specialised training and policy programmes. We take two approaches: Applied research and action research.

Applied research

Applied research focuses on providing policy makers with robust empirical evidence, including case studies in relation to their work. It also highlights contemporary debates, plus key enablers (and disablers) of leadership for sustainable development on the continent.

Some of the most prominent projects include Leadership for Africa, a collaborative research initiative with the Development Leadership Programme, University of Birmingham (UK). The project, involving eight African countries (Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo), explored how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

Another major collaborative project with United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (Finland) investigated sustainable development in Tanzania. Together, we undertook a series of studies aiming to facilitate the development and implementation of public policies to promote economic transformation and inclusive growth in Tanzania and across East Africa.

Action research

Action research generates information on challenges and opportunities organisations or industries/sectors face. It identifies options available to facilitate effective, evidence-based decision making and policy formulation. Thus, we carry out action research to support and guide clients’ strategic development, policy formulation and implementation approaches.

These studies complement our advisory services and deepen our clients’ understanding of their organisation’s developmental needs.

We offer a cost-sharing model for action research projects together with our clients.

Leadership memoirs

The Leadership Memoirs Project is part of the Institute’s research initiative that aims to generate and disseminate new knowledge related to leadership to inform and inspire present-day office holders. In particular, the project seeks to share knowledge and good practices of prominent leaders from Africa.

The project has already published the memoirs of two past heads of state in Tanzania: H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa (My Life, My Purpose: A Tanzanian President Remembers) in 2019 and H.E. Ali Hassan Mwinyi (Mzee Rukhsa: Safari ya Maisha Yangu) in 2021. The books describe their personal accounts of their lives from their formative years through their journey to being president and later life. These books both enrich the historical record of Tanzania and its development while also inspiring a new generation of African leaders.