Leading for Peace Leadership and its Development in Post-Conflict Contexts

Khalil, Loua (2018). Leading for Peace Leadership and its Development in Post-Conflict Contexts. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e316


This thesis examines the processes and practices of leadership and leadership development, in the context of post-conflict peacebuilding. The systematic literature review conducted in this thesis reveals that little is known about leadership in such a hostile context.

The research focuses on how leaders in civil society lead for peace at grassroots and middle-range levels in extremely divided societies, and how they develop as leaders in these contexts. The overarching research question is: What does leadership for peacebuilding involve and how it has been developed in the post-conflict context?

This research is an actor-focused inductive study based on empirical research into the role of civil society leadership in fostering and sustaining peace. It draws on semi-structured interviews with 32 long-standing civil society leaders in Northern Ireland, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The empirical research examined the characteristics of the contexts of leadership in post-conflict peacebuilding from a social identity theory perspective (Tajfel, 1974). The key characteristics found in this research are: Hostility and violence; polarisation; and depersonalisation. The research then utilises the social identity theory of leadership to explore the nature of leading for peace in terms of processes and practices. These processes are: Differentiation; integration; and political astuteness. A framework is developed to show how leading for peace interacts with context.

Finally, the research examines leadership learning and development in this context through the use of the technique of leadership journeys. Drawing on Tynjälä’s (2013) 3P model for workplace learning, a modified 3P model for peacebuilding leadership development in post-conflict contexts is proposed.

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