Thandika Mkandawire, a Swedish national of Malawian origin, is an economist with keen interest in the promotion of comparative research on development issues. He holds a DLit in Economics from Rhodes University, South Africa. His special field of speciality are been development economics and political economy. He has published extensively in a number of journals and books, which have been in the forefront in these two areas, dealing with central themes in the discourse of development in general, and in Africa in particular.
Thandika has been an advocate of the counterpoint arguments to the mainstream discourse of neo-liberal economic theory. At a general level, his outstanding performance has been due to his ability to interrogate issues from both economics political science points of view. He integrates these two disciplines in a way very few other scholars do. His major area of study in which he also demonstrates outstanding knowledge is Africa. His many years of studying Africa have given him ample knowledge of particular case studies, which he uses to support his theoretical arguments. However, in the past decade (2000-2010) he has widened his views considerably and brought in examples from both Asia and Latin America. Of particular interest are Thandika’s views on what is relevant in the Asian experience for Africa where he again brings in counterpoint views to the mainstream discourse emanating mainly from World Bank financed studies. He has also contributed immensely to the advancement of knowledge in the field of development economics through his analysis of the interplay between economic reform and democratization. Here he has even created a special term, which is attributed to him by all scholars in the field, namely “choiceless democracies”.
Thandika Mkandawire was Executive Secretary of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) from 1986 to 1996, after which he moved to Denmark where he was Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Development Research (CDR) in Copenhagen. Then he was appointed as Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) where he spent eleven years (1998-2009). In 2010, he was appointed as Chair in African Development at the London School of Economics (LSE).
Thandika Mkandawire is an Honorary Lifetime Member of CODESRIA.