Leadership succession and sustainability of developmental regimes


Sub-Saharan Africa has had more high-growth regimes than Southeast Asia, but Southeast Asia is by far the richer region. One of the reasons is that high-growth regimes in sub-Saharan Africa have been less durable than in Southeast Asia, and a key cause of this is that - unlike Southeast Asian regimes - they have rarely survived transitions in political leadership.

This singularity has contributed to some Southeast Asian countries experiencing a pattern of almost continuously high economic growth over the past 40 years, while in sub-Saharan Africa, growth, even where it has been high, has not been sustained.

This research stream explores the reasons for this difference, considering socio-cultural, institutional, and policy-based explanations. As many sub-Saharan African countries have now entered a period of high growth, the aim is to gain insight into the conditions under which that growth might be sustained.

The study employs a comparative case analysis of Southeast Asian regimes that have managed successful leadership transitions (Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam) in order to identify the key conditions that underpin succession with growth. The resulting analysis is tested against a selection of Asian and African cases where high growth was not sustained (Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Cote d’Ivoire), and an African case where it has (Mozambique).


Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique.

Stream leader:

Dr Tim Kelsall, APPP Senior Researcher, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Initiating and sustaining developmental regimes in Africa was funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The views expressed on this website and in material published by the Developmental Regimes in Africa project are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs or any of DRA's member organisations.