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University of Wollongong in Dubai: creating a private university in the public interest

Rob Whelan (University of Wollongong in Dubai, Dubai, UAE)
Daniel Kratochvil (University of Wollongong in Dubai, Dubai, UAE)

Publication date: 1 October 2011

Issue publication date: 1 October 2011


Subject area

Higher education leadership and planning.

Study level/applicability

Postgraduate/higher education.

Case overview

Professor Rob Whelan was appointed President of the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) from the University of Wollongong in Australia (UOW). Professor Whelan brought to the job in Dubai the perspective that public-good benefits flow from a comprehensive institution engaged with the larger community and these are led by academic staff members who produce research that serves the national interest. To apply this model to UOWD meant a thorough analysis of the organization in terms of both its culture and its broader environment. This case explores the various processes through which a new leader takes stock of an existing institution, identifies the potential for development in a particular direction, draws upon a range of stakeholders to refine the vision and develop it into a strategic plan, gains support for the plan, and then implements change through close collaboration with the institution's constituents.

Expected learning outcomes

This case can be used to explore a number of issues in leadership and management including: identifying the various internal and external stakeholders in a complex organization; analysing strategies for mobilization for change, including the assessment of inclusive versus exclusive approaches; reviewing the opportunity costs of change; and assessing types of leadership.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes.



This case was written by Dr Rob Whelan and Dr Daniel Kratochvil at the University of Wollongong in Dubai. It was prepared using company information and interviews and its intention is to provide material for class discussion through publication. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality.


Whelan, R. and Kratochvil, D. (2011), "University of Wollongong in Dubai: creating a private university in the public interest", , Vol. 1 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © Whelan & Kratochvil 2012

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