Professor & Program Director
Professor Nihel Chabrak believes we should be looking at new approaches to promote growth alongside social welfare. Development should consider not only the here and now, but how generations to come will be able to shape their future lives.
Professor Chabrak works in the Accounting Department of the College of Business and Economics at the United Arab Emirates University. She is researching how to promote economic connections between macro objectives, such as sustainability, and yet still create more micro incentives for the growth of businesses. In cooperation with colleagues from other well-known international research institutions, she is working on reforming finance, governance and accounting in order to support growth. Growth is about wellbeing as well as development. It is not only measured by GDP but by the dispersion, composition and sustainability of that growth. Policy makers should aim for an inclusiveness that allows people to transform their lives.
Economic growth is an important determinant of wellbeing but it is not the only one. Social and ecological factors are also important indicators of wellbeing, and in some cases, are directly related to it. Countries should pursue sustainable growth so that future generations can enjoy the same level of prosperity as now. Therefore, we should maintain our productive base across generations. This includes human, health and natural capital. According to Professor Chabrak, it is the concept of shareholder value maximization that has aggressively degraded natural capital and created inequalities in the economy and wider society. “An economic framework should reshape corporate behavior to support sustainable growth, which is the real wealth of nations.”
As well as conducting this research, Professor Chabrak is Program Director at the UAEU Science and Innovation Park, where she is promoting value-driven startups and encouraging businesses that are more inclusive and sustainable. Among the startups in the incubation program is Green Steps Energy. This is a UAE startup company founded by four female engineering entrepreneurs. Their vision is to establish a citizenship movement for a greener planet. They have designed an energy generating carpet (called Bezeo) that transforms kinetic energy into electrical energy. Another startup she helped with is Aroma Niche. This is an eco-friendly aromatherapy product which uses plants native to the UAE and Gulf region. This helps to preserve local heritage while offering a unique product.
As UAE team leader for the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) program - the largest on-going, international research program on entrepreneurship in the world - Professor Chabrak is interested in researching the links between entrepreneurship and wellbeing. With her colleague, Dr. Chafik Bouhaddioui, she has developed a long-term research project using data from the GEM program. The purpose of this research is to examine the potential relationship between entrepreneurship and happiness in the UAE in order to help policy makers evaluate entrepreneurship as a measure of wellbeing and to encourage further growth.
As a Chair of UAEU Committee for Dubai Expo 2020, Professor Chabrak was instrumental in designing the UAEU pavilion. During the Expo the pavilion’s theme will be how to generate 100 million ideas and transform them into 100 million successes.
Professor Chabrak teaches Accounting, Corporate Governance, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as well as a Stanford course on Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is also involved with a unique leadership course that utilizes both ontological and phenomenological approaches.
Before coming to UAEU, Professor Chabrak was living and working in France. She is a joint Tunisian and French citizen. When in France she was an Assistant Professor and then an Associate Professor at the Institut Mines Telecom (2002-2011). Before, that she was a Business and IT consultant. Her studies took her to IHEC Carthage (Tunisia) before attending the University of Paris Dauphine in 1995.
She has enjoyed visiting professorships at the University of Wisconsin, USA; University of Canterbury, New Zealand; Deakin University, and the University of South Australia, Australia.
She has published articles and served on several editorial boards of international journals. She is the co-founder and organizer of the International CSAF Conference (Tunisia, 2009; the UAE, 2013).
Professor Chabrak lives in Al Ain with her cat Candy and looks forward to retiring to a remote island surrounded by dogs and cats.
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