Crossing Sectors to Find Solutions for the Public Good in the Middle East with the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute

Historic revolutions across the Middle East have focused international attention on the courageous civic engagement and collective leadership of everyday citizens.

Since 2009, RCLA and the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute have collaborated to convene scholars and practitioners from across the region committed to illuminating and nurturing leadership for public well-being. The high-level working sessions and public fora have been an opportunity to discuss leadership that transcends sectors, transforms ordinary citizens into agents of change, and opens up new public spaces for deliberation and engagement.

A primary focus of the discussions has been on the increase in cross-sector social partnerships in the Middle East. These collaborations between government agencies, nonprofits and private companies to address social problems are considered promising and innovative policy interventions, though they come with inherent challenges and risks, such as those associated with the disproportionate size and power of the public sector.

One focus for scholars has been on public wariness of the "sector-blurring" effects of global phenomena such as the push for leaner governments and the rise of corporate social responsibility that can undermine clear lines of responsibility and accountability by different sectors.

Looking forward, RCLA and the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute will continue to explore the implications of interdisciplinary, “boundary-spanning” leadership practices for research, curriculum and leadership development in the swiftly changing region and beyond.