Project General Description
For about 23 years, Ben Ali’s regime grip on Tunisia was maintained by a combination of harsh repression and statist economic development. However, on 14 January 2011, the regime of Ben Ali came to an abrupt end revealing the fallacy of his leadership ‘model’. It became clear that it was mostly those with close ties to the regime who were given opportunities to thrive and evolve as leaders in the public and private sectors. Many private businesses benefited from the largesse of the regime and an unfair competitive environment to grow and thrive. Even leaders of organizations in civil society were selected, influenced and pressured by the regime. As a result, only those acquainted with those in power had the opportunity to develop leadership experience, while leadership capacities in the rest of society faded away. Even after the departure of Ben Ali, the old oligarchy still permeates the state apparatus, occupying key positions in the administration, the Interior Ministry, the media, the judiciary and so on.
The new authorities in Tunisia have recognized the development of leadership skills in the private and public sectors as well as in civil society as a critical condition for a successful transition process. In May 2012, the Ministry of Administrative Reforms of the Republic of Tunisia signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Victoria seeking cooperation and exchange for the development and delivery of training programs in leadership and governance and technical cooperation in the areas of governance and administrative reforms (see Annex I ). In June 2012, the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business collaborated with New York University’s Stern School of Business to deliver a coaching program for senior officials in Tunisia over three days, where internationally renowned, transformative states-people and influential scholars exchanged ideas with and advised Tunisian officials. These meetings and coaching sessions informed Tunisian leadership decisions and provided insights into reforms and transition challenges. See Annex II for endorsement letter from Prime Minister Jebali.
Based on this successful experience, the Tunisian Government is hereby proposing to train new leadership at the decision making level of Tunisian society to lead the way. The funding requested from the MENA Transition fund, alongside the Tunisian Government investment, will allow initiation of a Leading the Way pilot project and which will: i) consolidate a delivery consortium, ii) develop program content, and iii) deliver training.