• 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 (2018-2019)

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

    NSERC DISCOVERY GRANT

    Mathematical Models for Performance Measurement and Benchmarking in Organizations
    Principal Investigator: Wade Cook

    The proposed research is aimed at developing decision support tools for modelling performance and identifying best practice (benchmarks) in organizations. A typical example is one where an organization such as a bank wishes to determine its best performing (efficient) branches, thereby setting targets for improvement of those (inefficient) units that are not on the “frontier” of best performers. The mathematical model structure to be used in this regard is data envelopment analysis (DEA) as proposed by Charnes et al (1978). In the DEA setting, each decision-making unit (DMU) is described by a set of inputs and outputs. Utilizing these input/output profiles, the DEA methodology generates an efficiency score for each (DMU) under evaluation and provides information as to how inefficient DMUs would operate if projected to the efficient frontier. The proposed research program examines some of the major issues that have arisen over the preceding four decades in applying DEA in real world settings. In particular, the research examines
    problems wherein DMUs (e.g., bank branches) operate in non-homogeneous environments and where those units may not be able to operate independently of one another.

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

    SSHRC INSIGHT DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

    Labour Force Demographics and Economic Resiliency: Evidence from Foreign Competition Shocks and Implications for Canada
    Principal Investigator: Ambrus Kecskés

    Trade volumes account for a substantial proportion of economic output in many countries, so even small shocks to foreign trade can have a big impact on the economy. For firms and workers in industries that compete with imports, the competitive pressure from foreign trade can be fierce, particularly when it comes to wages and jobs. Younger, more innovative workers could cushion the blow of foreign trade shocks, but, as countries age, such workers are becoming increasingly scarce throughout the world. This depresses
    the resiliency of the domestic economy to foreign trade shocks.

    Ambrus’ research, on which he is working jointly with fellow scholar Phuong-Anh Nguyen, also at York University, will use newly available statistical methods to cleanly document this issue. First, they argue that younger workers have various characteristics that make it easier for them to reinvent themselves in the event of economic shocks. Therefore, younger workers, through the firms for which they work, make the domestic economy more resilient to foreign trade shocks. They will then show empirically this increased resiliency by studying corporate growth, as captured by performance and investment. Their key message, for policymakers and society more broadly, is that innovative labour markets are also flexible and beneficial for society as a whole.

    Female Empowerment: Older Women, Social Media, and the Ageist Fashion Industry
    Principal Investigator: Ela Veresiu

    How does aging impact female consumers’ identities? How do the fashion and beauty industries influence female shoppers’ perceptions of aging? How does social media affect women’s relationship to aging, beauty, and style? These questions have been on the agenda of feminist and marketing scholars for decades, it is nonetheless necessary to revisit them, especially in light of new marketplace
    developments. For example, since 2008 a new online fashion movement referred to as Advanced Style has inspired regular women over 50 to create their own Instagram accounts focusing on their personal aging and style journeys. The overall objective of Ela’s research is to understand the Advanced Style movement’s impact on North American marketing, media, economy, culture, and society. Specifically, to 1) examine how Advanced Style Instagram influencers operate online and offline, 2) investigate how
    they influence the North American multibillion-dollar fashion and beauty industries, 3) offer practical strategies for social media marketing professionals and personal branding, and 4) assess their impact on broader social and cultural understandings of gender, aging, beauty, and style.

    Big Data, Social Network Analysis, and the Financial Markets
    Principal Investigator: Gregory Saxton

    Networks are everywhere: lunch ties among co-workers, golfing partnerships among employees, inter-locking board-of-director connections, Facebook friendship ties, etc. Each network varies in terms of its structure – its size, how inter-connected network members are, and the prevalence of sub-groups and cliques. At the same time, within any given network, some network members will have a more important, more central position on account of their greater number of connections or their capacity as “bridges” connecting members of different network cliques. The logic of network structure and position is at the heart of what is known as social network analysis, and Gregory’s project applies this logic to the study of the stock market. Leveraging Big Data, he will study how characteristics of stock-focused
    discussion networks on Twitter influence the flow and spread – and thus the market impact – of information communicated in these discussion networks.. His research will examine whether these network characteristics influence investor profits around quarterly company earnings announcement events.

    Towards a More Comprehensive Understanding of Platform Businesses: A Market Attribute-based Organizing Framework
    Principal Investigator: Anoop Madhok

    The increasing prevalence of platform-based firms in a number of sectors in today’s economy has attracted interest from scholars, practitioners and policy makers. In 2018, seven of the top ten companies in terms of market capitalization were platform-based firms, such as Alphabet, Apple and Amazon.

    Although different types of platforms have distinct value propositions, platform architectures and ecosystem configuration, and accordingly need to be managed differently, we do not have a good understanding of why platforms take different forms and under what conditions they are likely to succeed. Anoop’s research team systematically examines (i) reasons for the proliferation of platforms despite associated risks and uncertainties; (ii) factors that limit the size and scope of platforms; and (iii) characteristics of different types of platforms that result in high growth.

    SSHRC INSIGHT  GRANTS

    Immigrant Labour Force Demographics and Canadian Economic Prosperity
    Principal Investigator: Ambrus Kecskés

    In virtually every developed country, the effect of immigration on the economy is greatly debated. Labour is arguably the most significant competitive advantage in the global knowledge economy, comprising about half of total economic output. Yet economists have only the most rudimentary understanding of how the characteristics of immigrants affect the firms to which they supply their labour.

    Building on prior work in labour and finance, this research will broadly examine how economic growth, as captured by various aspects of corporate investment and innovation, is impacted by key immigrant labour force demographics that are arguably the most important drivers of productivity. Using sophisticated econometric techniques, they plan to demonstrate, for example, that larger and more diverse immigrant labour forces result in more investment and innovation by the firms that employ them. In turn, we expect that our findings will highlight the importance of improving education and training, and they will identify the demographics of immigrants that most strongly impact individual firms as well as aggregate economic output.

    Social Impact Measurement and Accountability for
    Results in the Field of Homelessness
    Principal Investigator: Cameron Graham

    Cameron’s research examines how social impact measurements are used to hold nonprofit organizations accountable to stakeholders. Unlike for-profit companies, nonprofit organizations cannot rely on standard financial statements to convey their results. Studying how nonprofits develop and use social impact measurements requires investigating the relationship between performance measurement and causal models of the underlying social issue.

    Homelessness is one of the most visible manifestations of poverty in Canada. It is never clear when a particular homelessness initiative can be judged to be successful, because the measurable outcomes may be the result of changes in other policy areas. It is not even clear when a homelessness initiative has unintended negative consequences, because targeted individuals may “disappear from the radar” and end up in other programs or even other jurisdictions.

    This complexity has spurred innovation in social impact measurement around homelessness, and in the use of social impact measurements to drive new contingent funding arrangements, such as social impact bonds. Studying how homelessness organizations create and implement social impact measurements, and how they integrate them into financial reporting, will extend our knowledge of how all organizations can be held accountable for their impact on society.

    Concentrated Product Markets and their Implications
    Principal Investigator: Yelena Larkin

    The research of Yelena builds on the remarkable fact that over the past 20 years, U.S. markets have become more consolidated: A handful of “superstar” giants are now the key players in the economy, and smaller firms are being swallowed up by larger competitors through a wave of mergers and acquisitions.

    Many policy makers around the globe believe that dominance by a few firms is detrimental. For example, the four tech giants have become the target of scrutiny by the governments of the U.S. and France, as well as the European Union. At the same time, Canada is at the opposite end of the spectrum, holding a lax view of merger regulation policy and product market competition in general.

    Yelena’s research aims to address this issue by assessing the consequences of the puzzling dominance by large firms for consumers, suppliers, employees, and study the relevance of consolidation phenomenon to Canadian markets and other economies outside the United States.

    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.

    Impact of Firm Learning on Organizational Capabilities: The Case of Canadian Rail Transportation Equipment Industry in China
    Principal Investigator: Justin Tan

    The research is set in the high speed train industry in China, where the leading Canadian manufacturer Bombardier and its Canadian suppliers, along with other multinational companies, have maintained an extensive cooperative network with its Chinese competitors and built a major strategic presence. Currently Bombardier has an extensive network of strategic alliances with a number of Chinese firms and research institutes, who not only compete with Bombardier and its Canadian suppliers in Chinese market but also overseas, and a lack institutional protection for intellectual property right has resulted in suspected IP violation. Given the significance to academic research and to vital Canadian economic interest, improved understanding about this phenomenon is much needed.

    Envy Impacts Career Relevant Performance Through Future Selves and Motivated Cognition
    Principal Investigator: Chris Bell

    Broadly speaking, envy can take two forms. Benign envy motivates emulation of the envied person, proactive performance, and ambitious goal setting; malicious envy, besides being hostile, can sabotage the person’s own performance through an aversion to self-reflective improvement, withdrawal from performance, and setting of vague or superficial goals. Chris has found that malicious envy is negatively related to assessments of future goal potential and the vividness of an imagined future possible work self. By eroding future self imagery, malicious envy negatively impacts career decision making, self efficacy,
    and proactive career behaviours. Chris has also found that malicious envy is associated with superficial rather than deep learning strategies, evidence of a motivation to avoid reflective thought. Maintaining the envying person’s positive self-image and potential for achievement has valuable
    implications not just for the individual but the individual’s families and employers.

    Relative Importance of Country-level Institutions for Financial Decisions
    Principal Investigator: Kiridaran Kanagaretnam

    High-profile market failures in the last two decades were followed by swift governance and regulatory reforms. These US -initiated reforms were quickly adopted in other countries. However, it is not clear whether all countries benefit equally from adopting these changes. Kiridaran hypothesizes that the need for and the effectiveness of new regulations vary across countries with different country-level informal, formal and governance institutions.

    He plans to develop a comprehensive theoretical framework and methodology on the relative importance of institutions and then focus on two managerial decisions: excessive risk-taking by banks and corporate tax evasion. This research will make important contributions to the literature and practice.
    For example, it should be of interest to bank regulators and tax policymakers concerned about excessive bank risk-taking and threats to fiscal stability. This research will also shed light on the role of formal and informal institutions in constraining tax evasion, and the extent to which informal institutions can serve as substitutes to more formal institutions and governance mechanisms.

    Moral Identity Symbolization in Organizations: Mechanisms and Consequences
    Principal Investigator: Luke Zhu

    Conventional wisdom and empirical research suggest that highly virtuous people can elicit polarizing responses from those around them. On the one hand, exposure to virtual signalers can motivate observers to behave in prosocial and benevolent ways. On the other hand, people also perceive virtual signalers as humorless and less likeable, as reflected by common idioms such as “come down from your high horse” and “don’t be a goody two-shoes”, implying that virtual signalers may also elicit negative reactions from others. This research seeks to systematically understand how employees perceive virtual signalers in the workplace and understands the downstream consequences of these perceptions. To this end, we differentiate virtual signalers into proselytizers and non-proselytizers and examine the reactions associated with signaler type. We propose that the type of signalers employees meet and interact with at work can influence their work performance.

    Other External Grants Other External Grants

    MITACS ACCELERATE

    An Investigation of Canadian Companies’ Orientations towards Modern Slavery and Extreme Human Exploitation in Global Supply Chains
    Principal Investigator: Mike Valente

    Mike, and PhD candidate Kam Phung, explores social issue emergence and dormancy within businesses by empirically examining businesses’ orientations toward the issue of modern slavery in the global supply chains. Our understanding of why certain social issues remain dormant within organizations while others emerge and gain attention, beyond the business case argument, remains limited. This project focuses on issues of modern slavery and human exploitation in supply chains in a period when jurisdictions
    around the world are increasingly implementing legislation concerning due diligence and transparency surrounding modern slavery and other human rights issues in supply chains. Moreover, as Canada and other jurisdictions consider similar legislation, this research has important implications for practitioners and policy makers focused on addressing issues such as supply chain transparency and modern slavery.

    ONTARIO CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE

    Meeting Changing Customer Requirements in Food and Agriculture Through Application of Blockchain Technology

    Exploring Application of Blockchain Technologies for Managed Investing
    Principal Investigator: Henry Kim

    The projects listed above that Henry has been involved in as director of blockchain.lab entail investigating how blockchain technologies can be used to strengthen the competitive position of Canadian SME’s in a variety of industries. Blockchain technologies enable a synchronized ledger (of debits/credits, who owns what) to be held by many stakeholders, rather than one intermediary. It is useful in situations when an intermediary is inefficient (e.g., some banking processes), corrupt (e.g., some developing world
    governments), overly expensive (e.g., credit card companies), or doesn’t really exist (e.g., for farm-to-fork
    food tracking). Henry and his team collaborated with Nuco Networks, a pioneering blockchain startup based in Toronto, on combining AI and blockchain technologies. They investigated applying blockchain technologies for tracking Ontario fruit (Accu-Label) and dairy (Ministry of Agriculture). They conducted a similar feasibility study for Sigma Analysis, an asset management firm in finance.