American University of Beirut

Business in Conflict Research Group (BICAR) recognized by AACSB as a 2020 Innovation that Inspires

​​​​​​​​​​​For its work in poverty reduction, peacebuilding, and humanitarian efforts, the Business in Conflict Areas Research Group ​(BICAR) at AUB's Suliman S. Olayan ​​​School of Business (OSB) has been recognized by the A​ssociation to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) in the 2020 Innovations That Inspire​ initiative​ - an annual event drawing over 800 applications from top businesses schools around the world, with 25 selected as exemplars of world-leading business school innovations. 

OSB's BICAR group focuses on how local entrepreneurs, often in vulnerable situations and working in the informal sector, can help to reduce poverty, create jobs, and foster peace in conflict zones. Much of BICARs work is in the war-torn areas of the Middle East, with the group working with the humanitarian sector to improve the outcomes of programs that focus on business development in conflict-affected regions. 

"Our group has always believed that the vulnerable populations who are unable to leave war zones, yet start a business, and make the most of the situation, play an understated role in poverty-reduction, peacebuilding, and post-conflict rebuilding – and these entrepreneurs who are operating in the face of extreme challenges, deserve recognition and international support," explains Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship and Peace and Director of BICAR Dr. Jay Joseph. "AACSB's award supports our work in this area, and we welcome this recognition as we push forward to attract further funding to increase our impact in the region."

BICAR's team, which includes over 80 experts and 30 affiliated researchers, seeks to both enhance theory, but also generate real-world impact for those most in need, "Our work supports vulnerable populations in conflict zones that are left behind when war breaks out, often working in the informal sector to stay alive….our work targets aid to provide the right support, at the right time, to ensure these businesses can continue," says Josep​h, adding that the survival of these businesses offers an indigenous and non-political mechanism to support employment, build positive relations between warring factions, while offering essential goods and services to conflict-affected communities. 

BICAR–Arabic translation "Compass"–provides direction, guidance, and support on how to grow business in conflict-affected regions. As committed consultants to the UN across the Levant, and thought-leaders in the field, BICAR promotes on-going collaboration with government, academia, and the humanitarian sector to develop business-based livelihood support.

This year's AACSB International Innovations That Inspire ​theme emphasizes business education's efforts to elevate entrepreneurial thinking and new business creation, a theme that resonates well with OSB's efforts to transform business thinking in the MENA region through rigorous academic programs, research, and knowledge transfer. “This recognition demonstrates how research at a business school can engage it’s talents and areas of expertise to advancing peacebuilding and poverty-reduction goals,” concludes Steve​ Harvey, Dean of OSB.​

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