Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Karen Blanchard


Decades of ineffective and harmful international aid and development work have left us struggling to figure out the most ethical way to even attempt it anymore. Even the term “partnership” has more often than not been used to mask disempowerment and dependency between Northern and Southern partners. In any organization, leadership is recognized as a key component contributing to the success of the work; but particularly in development work, the choice of our leaders and the degree to which they have the power to make decisions sends other messages as well.

This paper analyzes an international partnership in which the two partners have made a concerted effort to leave the old model behind and start something completely new. Village Schools International (VSI) has made it a conscious priority to have all of its personnel in Tanzania work under the autonomous Tanzanian leadership of its partner organization Village Schools Tanzania (VST).

In-depth interviews with the leaders of the two organizations reveal the uniqueness of the relationship they have committed themselves to establishing. In the process, the leaders of VST and VSI also make clear how hopelessly flawed traditional attempts at partnership have been. While the paper provides no hope for those engaged in existing partnerships, for those who are willing to start afresh and make the sacrifices necessary to work under a model like the VST-VSI partnership, this research could provide guidance, food for thought, and perhaps even a little hope.


Growth and Development | International and Comparative Education | Organizational Behavior and Theory


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