Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Lea A. Hubbard, PhD; Steven A. Gelb, PhD; William R. Headley, CSSp, PhD


civil war, community-based initiatives, culture, Grounded theory, inductive analysis, Leadership studies, post-conflict community development, qualitative, Sierra Leone (Africa), western influences


Sierra Leone was torn apart by a terrible eleven-year civil war. Rebel forces raped and murdered civilians, burned down crops and villages, and looted homes and community structures in a quest to overturn the long-corrupt government. Since 2002 communities have begun the process of developing toward a sustainable peace. Using grounded theory and inductive analysis, this qualitative research study conducted during the summer of 2009 examines the development efforts of two communities in the Northern provinces of Sierra Leone, Lungi and Makeni. Findings reveal that there are three influences playing a role in their development: western, cultural, and national. This research describes the impact that these influences are having on postconflict community development and the ways in which they are working to affect change. This study shows that while western organizations are able to provide means for assistance, they often struggle to connect with the local people. Culturally, leadership and community-based initiatives encourage community cohesion and build on resilience, but are limited by the resources they can provide and the traditions that in some instances undermine issues of equality. Finally, national influences, which appear uniquely situated to link the resources of western influences with local cultural practices, are limited in their ability to make these connections in a way that successfully contributes to Sierra Leone's development. This research suggests that postconflict community development in Sierra Leone would benefit from a more integrated and collective approach on the part of these three main influential systems. Although the findings in this research are not generalizable, they offer some insight for other countries struggling to achieve community development after conflict.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies