• Projects and Initiatives

    Award-winning: Schulich’s faculty members are among the most innovative scholars in the world, conducting breakthrough research in numerous fields of business.

    Recognition: Our faculty’s outstanding work has been recognized externally through numerous awards and increased funding, as well as through the major global business school rankings that measure research excellence.

    The Schulich approach: One of the hallmarks of the research produced by our faculty members is the combination of academic rigour and real-world relevance.

    Newly Funded Projects (2017-2018)

  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

    NSERC DISCOVERY GRANT

    Dynamic Group Scheduling: Theory and Applications
    Principal Investigator: Adam Diamant

    Adam Diamant’s research introduces a mathematical framework for modeling large-scale systems where a decision-maker must repeatedly assign tasks, with different work requirements, to a collection of workers. The difficulty lies in the effect these tasks have on the worker, i.e., the whole is not equal to the sum of the effects of each task. Practical-sized problems are too large to be solved exactly and thus, it is customary to focus on suboptimal decision-making policies that consider the sum of the individual effects each task has on the worker. In many instances, this results in decisions that are far from optimal. One such example lies in the field of health care, where patients arriving over time must be assigned to a collection of home care workers. Adam developed an optimal scheduling framework that incorporates many industry-specific factors, including a patient’s health requirement, the time per visit, the expected number of visits they will need, and consistency in personnel. In particular, the methodology considers the daily travel time of a home care worker, which is highly sensitive to the panel of patients they are currently serving, the set of new patients that are assigned, and patients they may be assigned in the future.

    Data-centric Decision Supports for Large-scale Social Network Management
    Principal Investigator: Zhepeng (Lionel) Li

    Lionel Li’s research is featured by applying and reinventing Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods to address business problems, such as intelligent recommendation, targeted marketing, and FinTech. Lately, Lionel has moved into exploring quantum machine learning and its application to optimization, prediction, detection, and personalization problems. Lionel has been serving as a Principal Investigator for a NSERC Discovery Grant on data-centric large-scale social network management and has received the INFORMS Design Science Award for Business AI studies in social network analytics.

    Growing opportunities in digital information lead to changes in decision-making. Managers are embracing approaches that are unprecedented in their central focus on data. Data-based decision making provides cutting-edge analytical tools at many levels that create opportunities to re-invent managerial machinery. Despite the bright future, a big hurdle lies in how quickly can effective decisionmaking adapt to incoming Big Data when decision space and data sources are both at a massive scale. Given acceptable efficacy, scalability arises as a more challenging issue that warrants promising research efforts. This gap warrants extensive study on business AI methods.

    On the one hand, the performance of traditional techniques that seek for theoretical optimum deteriorates severely as the problem dimensionality scales up and data size increases; on the other hand, more and more business decision problems are facing heterogeneous units at a much finer granularity, which lead to prohibitive decision space and large scale of associated data. For example, decision-making for personalization, recommendation, and target marketing tasks are easily dealing with millions of interdependent individuals and/or items, at which scale traditional optimization techniques are often bounded intractable. To address this discrepancy, novel data-centric approaches (i.e., machine learning techniques) are favored due to their generalizability and efficiency in excessive decision scenarios, such as large-scale networks.

     

    Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

    SSHRC INSIGHT DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

    Does A Strong Corporate Culture Create Shareholder Value?
    Principal Investigator: Ming Dong

    Corporate culture is widely recognized as a source of value by corporate leaders. A recent survey indicates that over 90% of executives believe that improving their firm’s culture will increase firm value. However, there is only scant academic literature that examines the effect of corporate culture on firm value, mainly because corporate culture is intangible and difficult to quantify.

    This research aims to address the challenge in measuring corporate culture and empirically test whether a strong corporate culture creates shareholder value. Ming Dong plans to use a novel measure of corporate culture, focusing on one aspect: flexibility. He will collect job reviews, posted by current and former employees, from a publicly available career intelligence website. He will perform textual analysis on these reviews and compute the frequency of words that are associated with flexibility. Aggregating the review-level frequencies by firms, Ming will obtain a time-varying measure of the corporate flexibility culture for each firm. He will measure firm value creation by stock returns and empirically confirm the theorized positive relation between a strong corporate culture and firm value. He will then assess whether the benefits of flexibility are particularly strong in uncertain economic environments.

    Demographics and Innovation
    Principal Investigator: Ambrus Kecskés

    Younger labour forces produce more innovation. Ambrus Kecskés establishes this using the native-born labour force projected based on local historical births in the U.S. Ambrus uses three successive levels of analysis – commuting zones, firms, and inventors – to eliminate or examine effects such as firm and inventor life cycles. He also finds that innovation activities reflect the innovative characteristics of younger labour forces, and firms in younger labour markets have higher valuations. His results indicate that younger people as a group – inventors interacting with non-inventors – produce more innovation through the labour supply channel rather than through a financing supply or consumer demand channel.

    This study offers ready policy prescriptions for the demographic challenges confronting most countries in the world today. The study finds that not only do younger labour forces produce more innovation, they also create more wealth. The findings provide support for at least three types of public policies that can counter the effects of an aging population: improving the education and training of the native-born population; encouraging young and skilled immigration; and incentivizing domestic population growth.

    Short Interest and Investment
    Principal Investigator: Yelena Larkin

    This project evaluates the role of sophisticated investors, such as short sellers, in corporate investment decisions. Although short-selling is considered controversial, the scope of its activity in the United States has quadrupled over the past 30 years, and various countries around the world have passed regulations permitting short-selling as part of trading activity on their local stock exchanges.

    The main hypothesis of this project is that the presence of sophisticated investors such as short sellers can benefit the firm and lead to more efficient investment decisions. Existing literature provides ample evidence on how short-selling activity is related to stock prices. Yet, little is known on whether short sellers play a role in shaping the real activity of firms, in particular corporate investments. This project is one of the first ones in the literature to examine this link.

    The benefits of short-selling activity stem from the premise that short sellers possess information regarding the firm’s future. As a result, an increase in short-seller activity can potentially indicate a negative view of investors on the company’s prospects might induce managers to take a corrective action and reduce investment.

    SSHRC INSIGHT  GRANTS

    Construal of Trust and Suspicion in Marketing Contexts
    Principal Investigator: Peter Darke

    The birth of online retail was heralded as leveling the playing field for small and large businesses, as well as for providing consumers with access to more sellers, better information, and lower prices. However, the current reality is quite different in that the online channel is dominated by big brands, most of which also have a substantial bricks-and-mortar presence. Moreover, consumers are often willing to pay substantial premiums to brand name retailers online, even when smaller online sellers offer identical products for less. Why is reality so different from what was anticipated? While many factors are likely involved, one central explanation is almost certainly that consumers are highly suspicious when making online purchases, and seek the comfort of larger, better-established firms as a result. The funded research identifies the role of psychological distance in consumer judgments of trust and distrust during online marketing interactions and identifies a number of theory-based marketing strategies that can be used to suppress, avoid, or even reverse the negative effects psychological distance can have on trust, without the need to build a chain of local physical stores or a trusted brand image.

    Artificial Intelligence, Corporate Accountability and Public Understanding
    Principal Investigator: Dirk Matten

    Dirk Matten and his team’s proposed research will show how corporations and their networks are currently shaping, and proposing to account for, society’s understanding of Artificial Intelligence’s (AI’s) perilous possibilities. On a theoretical level, they develop the ‘openacity framework’ that will help quickly and rigorously explicate the manner in which AI interfaces can be more or less open and characterized by more or less opacity (hence they coined this term ‘openacity’). Their empirical objective is to explain the importance of the policies and practices of corporations and associated networks with key interests in open-source AI. The pilot study that Dirk and his team have conducted as part of this proposal’s development suggests that they will include the corporations and associate networks on AI as part of their empirical investigation.

    The final objective of the proposed research is a function of theoretical and empirical objectives complementing each other. It relates to the continuing need for a fuller understanding of the political and social importance of corporations. Whereas much of the literature conceives of the political and social importance of corporate policies and practices reactively – e.g., as responses to legitimacy crises, as responses to state-centric governance failures – Dirk and his team aim to show that corporations are also of much more proactive social and political importance. In short, they aim to show how corporations are playing an active role in creating the norms and values that will potentially play a key role in the future development of AI.

    National Pensions, Investment Policies, and Financial Markets: Evidence from Canada and around the World
    Principal Investigator: Lilian Ng

    Lilian Ng’s proposed research will provide a comprehensive comparison of the investment policies of national pension reserve funds (NPRF) between Canada and 20 developed and developing countries. The investment objectives and investment policies of national pension funds differ vastly across countries. For example, Spain, Belgium, and the U.S. can only invest their NPRFs in fixed income securities (typically government bonds); Japan and many European countries invest in both fixed income securities and equities; and Canada, Australia, and New Zealand allocate a substantial portion of assets to private equity funds and hedge funds. Based on the aggregate asset allocation data, Lillian then examines the asset allocation decisions of NPRFs across different asset types (i.e., equities, fixed income securities, and alternative investments) and between domestic and foreign markets and study the underlying economic and financial factors driving their differences. Finally, Lillian will study whether the investment practices of these funds have any valuation effects at the asset class level and at the individual security level. Specifically, she will test whether and how investment activities of NPRFs affect the important properties of financial markets, such as price efficiency, liquidity, and volatility.

    How Extreme Product Incongruity Leads Consumers to Affirm Other Consumption-Relevant Knowledge Structures
    Principal Investigator: Theodore Noseworthy

    To date, scholars and practitioners in the area of product design and innovation have focused extensively on the likelihood of consumers adopting radical product innovations. However, a distinct body of research suggests there may be more to the story. It seems that people strive to maintain existing beliefs. An interesting finding from this literature is that when a belief is sufficiently threatened, people will compensate by affirming other established beliefs, even in unrelated domains. For example, one study found that reading an incoherent story can lead people to more strongly affirm their cultural identity. In the proposed research, Theodore Noseworthy will investigate the analogous notion that new products that challenge existing beliefs can cause people to affirm their cultural identity via nationalistic preference, morality via “green” consumerism, and even social standing via conspicuous brand signaling. Should the findings manifest as expected, they would have significant implications for researchers and firms engaging in product design and innovation. First and foremost, the results would demonstrate that radical innovation can cause consumers to affirm other beliefs that may have direct and immediate implications for the firm.

    Indigenous Social Entrepreneurship: A Co-generated Approach
    Principal Investigator: Irene Henriques

    Irene Henriques’s cross-Canada research team seeks to build an aspirational Indigenous social entrepreneurship framework. Their framework is based on the co-generation and co-creation of knowledge and experiences whereby the Indigenous world view of cooperation, community, sustainability, sense of place and a generational perspective, and the entrepreneurial Western perspective are synthesized so as to derive a more complete and inclusive understanding of entrepreneurial processes. Such a new perspective requires all stakeholders to the entrepreneurial activity, including Indigenous communities, Indigenous social entrepreneurs, the financial and business sector, governments and non-governmental agencies to share experiences and co-generate/co-create an entrepreneurship framework. They seek to incorporate these values and lay bare tensions between private and collective rights, the needs of the individual and those of the community and economic valuation and Indigenous valuation so as to inform not only Indigenous entrepreneurship but non-Indigenous entrepreneurship as well. The interest in her team’s research will be significant, spanning a wide range of topics and activities of Indigenous communities, Elders, youth, governments, policy makers, financial institutions, individual entrepreneurial practitioners and academics.

    Reshaping Entrepreneurship as a Tool for Poverty Alleviation
    Principal Investigator: Geoffrey Kistruck

    Entrepreneurship is increasingly heralded as fundamental to alleviating poverty, and many development organizations have undertaken large scale and costly entrepreneurial training initiatives. While these efforts have had some success, the resulting entrepreneurial activity has been largely imitative rather than innovative – activities that replicate existing businesses in their communities, rather than identify “new means/ends relationships”. The objective of this research is to collaborate with the Tanzanian Social Action Fund (TASAF) and the University of Dar es Salaam Business School (UDBS) to design and test modifications to TASAF’s entrepreneurial training programs. More specifically, Geoffrey Kistruck plans to conduct three longitudinal field experiments designed to foster greater innovation at each stage of the entrepreneurship process: opportunity identification (seeing innovative opportunities), opportunity exploitation (acting on innovative opportunities), and growth (increasing the scope or scale of innovative opportunities). From a theoretical perspective, his goal is to explore how characteristics that are most salient within the chosen setting alter current explanations of causal relationships in the field of entrepreneurship more broadly. From a practical perspective, not only will the project directly impact TASAF’s targeted beneficiaries across 25 different regions in Tanzania, but potentially millions more throughout Africa and around the world who receive entrepreneurship training from similar organizations.

    The Effect of Technology on Auditors’ Professional Judgement
    Principal Investigator: Linda Thorne

    Perhaps the most significant factor rapidly changing the way professional accountants perform their work is the increased reliance of the accounting profession on technology. Credible media reports suggest that by 2030 40% to 90% of all accounting functions will be replaced by technology. Most of the evidence points to the benefits of increasing reliance on technology, as this facilitates long-distance communication and standardizes work procedures, thereby increasing decision accuracy and lowering the costs of doing business. There are, however, potential drawbacks associated with technology use that threaten the quality of auditors’ professional judgement. For instance, excessive reliance on technology can have detrimental impacts on staff training and development. Similarly, applying standardized decision protocols that may not apply to unique or new decision contexts mitigates their benefits. Most alarmingly, excessive reliance on technology may result in professional accountants’ abdication of responsibility which, in turn, undermines their ethical obligation to the public. With these factors in mind, Linda Thorne’s research team aims to understand how to best ensure accountants’ professional judgement adheres to high ethical standards in a technically advanced world.

    Other External Grants Other External Grants

    CANADA SECURITIES INSTITUTE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

    Interest Rates, Monetary Policy and Economic Policy Uncertainty, and Banks’ Financial Reporting Quality
    Principal Investigator: Kiridaran Kanagaretnam

    In this research project, Kiridaran Kanagaretnam explores some explanations for historically low interest rates and its impact on banks’ operating and financial performance. He starts by examining factors that affect interest rates. In particular, there is scarce evidence relating policy uncertainty to interest rates. Indeed, economic and monetary policies have become very discretionary and unpredictable since the year 2000, a period that coincides with historically low interest rates. Given this, he explores whether and how economic policy uncertainty and monetary policy uncertainty is associated with low interest rates. Next, he studies the implications of interest rates for cross-sectional differences in banks’ operating and financial reporting behaviours. More specifically, he will study how interest rates influence bank income composition. He will then examine whether interest rates affect bank-funding structure (e.g., retail deposits versus wholesale funds). Kiridaran will also investigate if low interest rates induce higher bank risk-taking behaviours. Finally, he will explore whether and how interest rates influence banks’ financial reporting quality.

    NICK TYRELL RESEARCH PRIZE

    The Impact of Monetary Incentives and Deontic Justice on Whistleblowing Reporting to Tax Agencies
    Principal Investigator: Avis Devine

    Important questions, such as those surrounding environmental sustainability, can encourage collaboration amongst government, industry, and academia – and this project is doing just that. As real estate is both the largest user of natural resources and creator of greenhouse gas emissions, the focus on “greening” real estate has become a key research area. Existing studies frequently examine the impact of green building certification programs on commercial real estate revenues, but revenues are only one piece of the puzzle. This study provides a unique perspective by investigating how sustainable and energy efficient-focused interventions impact building operations, and their financial impact. Using a proprietary database of U.S. and Canadian commercial real estate, the research team investigates the impact of both green building certification and environmentally-related capital expenditures (“hard interventions”) on operating performance, but also environmental engagement (education, encouragement) with both property managers and tenants (“soft interventions”). These engagement activities seek to modify building user and management behaviour, and the researchers test for connections between changes in behaviour and expense line items that have real impacts on both the environmental and financial bottom lines.

    ONTARIO CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE

    Blockchain-Enabled Smart Energy Micro-Grids for Transactive Energy Marketplaces
    Principal Investigator: Henry Kim

    Aggressive climate change goals have forced the energy industry to look for solutions that will restructure the current power system into one that is more resilient, sustainable, and efficient. Transactional energy marketplaces represent a relatively new concept that seeks to address these needs. In a transactional marketplace, energy producers are directly linked to energy consumers, meaning that a central authority no longer needs to facilitate their local transactions. So, excess renewable energy such as wind or solar produced by one building, can be directly bought by a neighbouring building. Schulich’s BlockchainLab, along with Hero Engineering and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), are collaborating on research toward an innovative solution that enables a decentralized transactive energy exchange system built using blockchain technologies – an online distributed ledger mechanism that underpins networks like the Bitcoin network where transfer of value can be facilitated peer-to-peer without a central intermediary. Not only does this type of decentralized approach increase energy efficiency, but it also incentivizes an energy market participant to consume and produce local renewable energy.

    Henry’s research on Blockchain technologies has also earned funding for two other projects:
    • Applying Deep Neural Networks for Blockchain Interoperability I (Ontario Centre of Excellence)
    • Applying Deep Neural Networks for Blockchain Interoperability II (National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program)

    CHINESE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

    Disruptive Technological Innovation: Mechanisms and Evolutionary Path
    Principal Investigator: Justin Tan

    The Major Research Grant from the Chinese National Science Foundation is the most competitive and prestigious research award in China. This grant, titled “Disruptive Technological Innovation: Mechanisms and Evolutionary Path”, awarded to Justin Tan, will support a research team at Tianjin University, led by Justin, who holds a courtesy Visiting Professorship there. The research will draw from different theoretical perspectives and utilize a multiple methods design, including field study, modeling and computer simulation, to study the innovation trajectories in several technology intensive industries, such as the high-speed train, telecommunication, pharmaceutical, and artificial intelligence sectors. Of particular significance to vital Canadian economic interests, the research will also examine how the Montreal-based Bombardier competed for strategic presence in China.