Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Anyansi-Archibong, Chi


This study explored stakeholder perceptions of influences on the development of sustainable leaders in Malawi, in Sub-Saharan Africa. Narratives from three stakeholder groups—leaders of grassroots organizations including civil society groups, academics and emerging scholars, and professionals who represent the small but growing middle class—capture insights on leader development in the post-colonial period starting with the country’s transition from single-party to multi-party rule in the early to mid-1990s. This multi-party movement galvanized disparate interests into political action for a democratic form of government, and set the backdrop for the current environment for leader development. Since then, the landscape for leadership in Malawi has been dynamic and fluid. Perceptions of leader attributes are contested as traditional customs, culture, and values increasingly collide with Western philosophies and an increasing Chinese influence. Informant narratives examined the role of internal and external influences on the leadership landscape, including educational institutions, social and community organizations, civil society and religious groups, transnational non-governmental organizations, and geopolitical groups, along with donor nations. In addition, the cult of personality and Big Man syndrome were addressed along with the relevance of ethno-linguistic systems and geographic factions in aligning the roles and responsibilities of emerging leaders with the goals and aspirations of their constituents. Finally, the effect of leadership principles and philosophies on economic conditions and development were evaluated in terms of empowering marginalized citizens and preparing their leaders to act globally while thinking locally. Findings contribute to the emerging body of scholarship on leadership in Sub-Saharan Africa by providing narratives from stakeholders who will play a key role in preparing the next generation of future leaders.