Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Joyce Gibson, PhD

Second Advisor

Charlotte Mafumbo, PhD

Third Advisor

Dan Jenkins, PhD


expatriate, foreign leadership, NGO, Tanzania, local leadership, Leadership and Organizational Studies


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand perceptions that Tanzanian employees hold about expatriate leadership of NGOs working on children’s issues in Tanzania. In Tanzania many non-profit organizations, commonly referred to as NGOs, working within the global development field are led by white, expatriate leaders while staffed by local, black, Tanzanians. Through interviews with Tanzanian staff, this study helps determine whether the presence of expatriate leadership of NGOs in Tanzania is an effective approach to development as perceived by local staff. Key-informant interviews were conducted with five Tanzanian employees who have been employed under the leadership of expatriate leaders. Participants were identified through the researcher's personal network after living in Tanzania for 11 years. Through the data, the researcher presents findings on how expatriate leaders are perceived by local staff. Themes that emerged include 1) the importance of relationships and culture; 2) assumptions about expatriates; 3) skills and competencies of expatriates; 4) perceptions of power, privilege, and coloniality; and 5) recommendations for practice. This research may be useful to a variety of groups, including NGOs and NGO leadership and could lead to the formation of best practices for these institutions and leaders.