IDS Bulletin Vol. 19 Nos. 4

The Secrets of African Managerial Success

Published on 1 October 1988

It has become customary to despair at the quality of African public sector management, and to attribute the problem to an inhospitable social and political context. Yet we can discover success stories even in the usual sector in which failure is most prevalent. By looking at these cases we can attempt to discover the ‘secret of success’ and thus some indications about how to deal with less successful cases.

This article attempts to do this by looking at the life and career histories of four prominent Kenyan officials who were able to endow success on many enterprises that they led. It concludes that the way in which they were able to maintain the autonomy of their organisations was by establishing effective links with the political leadership; it explains how their commitment to good administration derived from and was reinforced by a strong sense of professional vocation; how their capacity to raise resources was reinforced by their ability to maintain the support of donor agencies; how they sought effective methods of balancing Africanisation against the need to retain expatriate staff; and how their willingness to take risks depended upon their ability to make a good living outside the state service if need be.

Cite this publication

Leonard, D., K. (1988) The Secrets of African Managerial Success. IDS Bulletin 19(4): 35-41

Citation copied


Image of David Leonard

David Leonard

Visiting Fellow

Publication details

published by
Leonard, David K.
IDS Bulletin, volume 19, issue 4


Related content