Oxford University Archive of World Leaders’ Exit Interviews


The Oxford University Archive of World Leaders’ Exit Interviews project aims to create a new and lasting data base of original research material on the nature of leadership.

Bringing world leaders who have left office to Oxford University to conduct 5 – 6 hour filmed interviews allows them to reflect on and analyse their time in office. Speaking in their own words, their views, recollections and responses are recorded on film for analysis by future generations of scholars.

In-depth questioning by academic researchers on the challenges interviewees faced in crisis decision-making in particular historical moments will create new historical knowledge and generate  new insights on the nature of power.

As well as generating a new oral history, the interviews will develop lessons learned and analysis of the nature of leadership in the 21st century.  Each interview includes questioning about the individual’s role within their organisation and how they got the top job. The interviewers select particular crisis situations for in-depth analysis and aim to shed new empirical light on, for example, the handling of the Euro crisis and the formal and informal sources of power available to leaders in crisis situations.  

The pilot series includes interviews with Herman Van Rompuy (EU Council President 2010 – 2015) and Jose Manuel Barroso (President of the EU Commission 2004 – 2014).  

Project Objectives:

The project aims to fill a gap in research on high-level decision making and to create a new scholarly resource. The pilot project has tested the concept, format and established the project brand.


The outputs from each interview will include:

  1. A full transcript
  2. The full length interview (5 – 6 hours), to include time coded headings
  3. Shorter 20 minute films on selected topics
  4. Short 3  - 5 minute highlights

The project team are now preparing to launch the next tranche of interviews for the Oxford University Archive of World Leaders’ Exit Interviews

To find out about the project contact: Hartmut Mayer or Kalypso Nicolaidis

Principal Investigator

Dr Hartmut Mayer


John Fell Fund


John Fell Fund

Project Start / End

May 2016 - Jul 2017

Project Videos

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