Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Land and Houphouetism in Ivorian Political Leadership
by Kablan, Pierre N., Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2013, 214; 3579837
Abstract (Summary)

From 1960 to 1975, Côte d'Ivoire was the most prosperous and politically stable country in the western African region. In the late 1970s, it encountered economic decline that led to civil and social disturbances of the 1980s and 1990s and preceded a coup d'état in 1999 and civil war. What transpired from the Ivorian miracle to its demise to failed state status offers insight into the economic and political developmental challenges of African nations.

Côte d'Ivoire's first post-colonial president was Felix Houphouët-Boigny whose presidential administration lasted for 33 years, 1960 to 1993. He fashioned a leadership style, "Houphouetism" that was charismatic, paternalistic, and initially effective. The land and labor policies that Houphouët-Boigny inherited from the French colonialists amounted to a "plantation economy project." This project required governmental control to maintain viability of the Ivorian state. He did this with a combination of charisma, paternalism, legal, and extra-legal authority. The second need was what Akindes (2004) called Houphouetism's "hyper globalization" of the plantation economy (p. 10). Hyper globalization referred to a rapid, expansive role for Ivorian commodities on the world market.

This is the question this study investigates: did the land policies of Houphouetism maintain short-term equilibrium in the Ivorian social system, 1960 to 1975, but after 1976 demonstrated the inability to adapt to change, represent long term consequences, and the avoidance of adaptive work? Heifetz (1994) defines reality testing as the social system's ability to "grasp the problem at hand" and identify its adaptive work. For a time, its immediate post-colonial period, this study will argue, Houphouetism did effectively address the short-term problem at hand: the need for viability of the Ivorian state and its politics. Based on the enormous profits of the plantation economy, Houphouetism succeeded in establishing and maintaining viability for the Ivorian state. However, this study argues, that the steps taken to achieve viability undermined the long-term adaptive challenge of sustainability. In Heifetz's terms, Houphouetism was both successful short-term adaptive work but long-term adaptive work avoidance.

This research analyzes the elements of Houphouetism in its early phase (1960-1975), and then its later phases (1976-1980) and (1981-1993). There are three arguments made in this study. The first is that Houphouetism's land policy maintained short-term equilibrium in the Ivorian social system. This leadership style did not address conflicting claims to land, traditional and commercial, that exacerbated tensions among migrant and indigenous fanners. The second argument is that in Burns' (1978) terms, Houphouetism represented transactional not transforming leadership. Finally, this study uses Heifetz's principles of successful adaptive work and of adaptive work avoidance to explain that Houphouetism succeeded by short-term transactional adaptive leadership that undermined long-term transforming adaptive leadership capability to resolve conflicting traditional and commercial systems of land access, use and ownership.

Houphouët-Boigny's charismatic and paternalistic leadership impeded the country's ability to adapt to economic problems in the 1980s and did not set a smooth pathway for Côte d'Ivoire's transition from a one party to a multiparty state. Without resolving the conflict of traditional African land use, which was communal, with Western land use, which was alienated and contractual, Houphouetism did not last beyond the life of Houphouët-Boigny.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Couto, Richard
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 75/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Political science, Public policy
Publication Number: 3579837
ISBN: 978-1-303-82550-7
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