DANBURY, Connecticut — Western Connecticut State University Professor of Management Dr. Mohinder Dugal is the latest member of the university community to receive the prestigious Fulbright for Research and Teaching Award from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, for the 2022-23 academic year. Dugal, who teaches the capstone Strategic Management course to both undergraduate and MBA students in the university’s Ancell School of Business, will spend nine months in Bahrain to study Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) in the Gulf region.
In anticipation of his Fulbright grant, Dugal has developed an academic partnership with the College of Business Administration at the University of Bahrain that should open up global business education opportunities for students and faculty at the two institutions.
“I hope that I will ignite research interest in the PPP arena amongst faculty members at the University of Bahrain, where I also intend to help the host institution think about setting up a Center of Excellence for PPP Studies for the region,” Dugal said. “It would be a central repository of knowledge, technical and managerial, that governments, private companies and investors could tap into.”
In his application for the Fulbright grant, Dugal pointed to several current macro-economic trends in the Gulf region that make PPPs worthy of study.
“In recent years, the challenge for governments across the Gulf Cooperation Council region has been to reduce expenditures while at the same time deliver infrastructure projects needed to strengthen their economy’s competitive edge,” Dugal said. “The traditional economic development model in the region that relied primarily upon oil and gas revenues, is no longer sustainable as it is undermined by a lack of diversity and skills in the workforce, a young demographic with growing aspirations, and demand for better quality public services.”
Dugal decided to focus his research specifically on Bahrain for several reasons.
“Bahrain is facing real issues such as high population growth rate, depleting oil and gas reserves, and rapid urbanization and industrialization. The country is in urgent need for private investments on several other fronts, such as electricity projects, water desalination plants, sewerage projects, hospitals and schools,” Dugal said. “The country also has immense PPP potential, and several important advantages. Politically, Bahrain has had good relations with the U.S., and houses our Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Economically, Bahrain now is seen as the undisputed center of Islamic banking in the Middle East and has the technical expertise within the country to execute PPP transactions. What it urgently needs is a rigorous and comprehensive approach to PPP projects and a clearly articulated, long-term implementation plan that encompasses all economic sectors.”
Dugal believes his project proposal for an expansive study on the state-of-the-art of PPPs is timely and urgent, especially given the urgency and political will of the government of Bahrain to expedite development. His interactions with and recommendations to the local governments will benefit from the insight he gained during his business career prior to becoming an Ancell School of Business faculty member 13 years ago.
“During my tenure on Wall Street, I worked on several PPP projects, across different sectors such as toll roads, power projects, commodities and airports,” Dugal explained. “I was fortunate to have interacted with scores of PPP professionals from across the globe who are experts in structuring PPP projects that are fair to all, economically viable, sustainable and beneficial to the local populace.” He continued, “Though I have never had the opportunity to visit Bahrain, I have worked in Egypt on a financial transaction involving EGPC, the country’s national oil company. During that time, I got to spend several weeks with local officials and got first-hand exposure to business practices of the Arabic world. My experiences also led me to better appreciate the role of Islamic financing in the MENA region. I have great respect for the expertise of local finance and strategy professionals who work on complex PPP transactions while being mindful of cultural norms and legal requirements of Islamic financing, as dictated by local and Sharia laws.”
Looking ahead, Dugal said, “As a cultural ambassador for the U.S., I look forward to sharing with my peers in Bahrain how we approach our teaching responsibilities here and manage our academic careers while preparing our students for future leadership roles. Upon returning from Bahrain, Dugal plans to use his experiences there to offer elective courses at WCSU on leadership, globalization and on managing cultural differences in businesses in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. “Since both WCSU and the University of Bahrain are AACSB accredited, the two institutions already have a common base for further collaborations on faculty and student exchange programs, curriculum development opportunities, and more,” he said.
Several WCSU faculty members and students have received Fulbright Awards in recent years. To learn more about student experiences, visit www.wcsu.edu/fulbright/.
Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.
For over 75 years, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 400,000 participants – chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential – with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to challenges facing our communities and our world. More than 800 U.S. scholars, artists, and professionals from all backgrounds teach or conduct research overseas through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program annually. Additionally, over 1,900 diverse U.S. students, artists, and early career professionals in more than 100 different fields of study receive Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants annually to study, teach English, and conduct research overseas.