Ron Bosrock found reason for cautious optimism for the future of Lebanon during a recent extended visit.
Bosrock holds the SJU John H. Myers Chair of Management and is the founder and director of The Global Institute at Saint John’s. During the past summer, he spent several weeks serving as a volunteer adviser to Lebanon’s Ministry of Industry. While there, he focused on investment promotion.
The country is struggling to rebuild from the effects of its 17-year civil war, he said. While it has much to overcome, it also has many positive qualities to promote.
“Any country looking for investment must convince potential investors that it has political and sociological stability,” Bosrock said. Right now, there is no fighting, he said, and there is a delicate balance among the country’s major factions – the Christians, the moderate Sunnis, the more radical Shites, and the Druse. Meanwhile the Syrians continue to occupy much of Lebanon, and the Israelis continue to demonstrate military might with frequent military jet flyovers.
“It’s a very complex situation,” he said. “There is some hope for Lebanon given the fact that it has a moderate Muslim element and a substantial Christian population.”
Such diversity can be a positive, he said.
“Of the 22 countries in the Arab League, Lebanon is the only one that is pluralistic and quasi-democratic.”
Bosrock also sees hope in the country’s 13 colleges and universities, including the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University in Beirut, and the bright, young people who attend them. He worked with officials at American University of Beirut and said they are very interested to learn about management in the United States. Bosrock plans to return to the university during Thanksgiving as a guest lecturer.
Back in Minnesota, Bosrock said he plans to offer his students a balanced view of what is happening in the Middle East. Bosrock has written about his experiences in his monthly column, the Global Executive, published the last Monday of each month in the Star Tribune business section, and he is available to make presentations to other classrooms or groups. He can be contacted at [email protected].