Research Funding

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 (2020 & 2021)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

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SSHRC INSIGHT DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

Motivated Beliefs and Racial Discrimination

Principal Investigator: Alexander Coutts

Discrimination against racial minorities has been extensively documented across multiple domains, such as in healthcare, policing, and the markets for labour, goods, and services. Despite increasing awareness, empirical evidence suggests that the prevalence of racial discrimination in areas such as hiring has not decreased over the past 25 years. While many agree that discrimination is a widespread social problem, few report that they personally harbour racial bias.

In this research, Alexander and his team investigate the link between individuals’ motivations to remain unaware of the extent of their racial biases and the prevalence of discriminatory behaviour. The first hypothesis follows research in psychology that suggests that individuals have self-serving motivations to negate, deny, or remain unaware of the extent of their own racial biases. The second hypothesis is that their resulting unawareness contributes to the persistence of these biases and leads to realized discriminatory behaviour.

In studying these connections, Alexander leverages theories of motivated beliefs to identify the precise mechanisms that operate in the context of racial bias. Thus, Alexander will shed light on how motivated beliefs contribute to discrimination and how this discrimination can be reduced.

In studying these connections, we leverage theories of motivated beliefs to identify the precise mechanisms that operate in the context of racial bias. Thus, we will shed light on how motivated beliefs contribute to discrimination and how this discrimination can be reduced.

When Financial Reporting Standards Collide

Principal Investigator: Amin Mawani

Corporate lobbying reframed the discourse of CEWS from helping employees to helping the businesses themselves during an uncertain pandemic period. Firms’ disclosure about government wage subsidies continued to be of interest to shareholders as well as other stakeholders such as labour groups and unions, taxpayer citizens, competitors and the media – even if immaterial for accounting purposes. For example, ESG disclosure rules that allow firms to omit disclosures on climate-related lobbying on grounds of immateriality may be self-defeating.

Initial estimates show that about 19% of CEWS recipients voluntarily disclosed their CEWS amounts in their annual report even when such amounts were below the assumed materiality threshold of 5% of net incomes.  This suggests that accounting immateriality is not all that drives firms not to disclose their CEWS amounts.

This research examines whether firms scoring high on ESG rankings were more likely to disclose their CEWS to reflect some broader societal goals such as better stewardship of taxpayer resources. Failure to disclose CEWS for high-ranking “S” (social metric) firms may reflect their reluctance to admit that they received a government subsidy that was not necessary from a cash flow perspective.

 

SSHRC INSIGHT GRANTS

When Do Acquirers Overpay for Target Firms? Evidence from M&A Target Valuation Analyses

Principal Investigator: Pouyan Foroughi

This research plan builds on the striking findings of decades of studies that more than half of mergers and acquisitions destroy shareholder value. These findings are difficult to understand in light of the tremendous volume of acquisitions of both public and private companies. Although many studies try to explain why many deals destroy shareholder value, none provide readers with a clear answer to a straightforward question – do acquirers simply pay too much for target firms?

Utilizing a broad sample consisting of all firms that provide firm-level valuation analyses produced by financial advisors as to the basis for their “fairness opinion,” justifying the transaction price as appropriate to the target or the acquirer, Pouyan’s research will provide a clear answer to this question. These reports generally provide significant detail regarding the methodologies used to evaluate the offer price as well as cash flow forecasts produced by managers of target and can be used to derive measures of the bias/optimism of target managers exists in their forecasts, as well as in the selective choice of the methodologies and assumptions used to execute their analyses.

Investor Attention, Mood, and Price Persistence

Principal Investigator: Mark J. Kamstra

The stock market is influenced by psychology and by investor (in)attention to news. Kamstra’s research explores predictability arising from mood interacting with attention, disentangling retail investors (who are perhaps relatively more likely to be impacted by mood) from institutional investors. GameStop and Reddit highlight the importance of retail investors.

Google Trends documents retail investor web searches for news and Bloomberg provides data on institutional investor search, allowing identification of periods of relative inattention to news and events. Changing seasons have been shown (by Kamstra and others) to correlate with changing mood, fall and winter are associated with the blues and aversion to risk. All of this combined points to the impact of attention and investor mood on markets and identifies periods of informed and stabilizing price movements as well as periods of destabilizing price changes associated with mood and retail investor over-reaction.

The central insight is that it may not be the attention that matters, but rather who is paying attention. This research will help determine appropriate reactions to extreme events in financial markets, providing policymakers and investors with the tools needed to assess the impact of heightened attention and retail trading on return predictability and market stability.

How Firms Combat Climate Change: International Evidence

Investigator: Lilian Ng

Climate change is driving new political and economic realities for countries and businesses worldwide. Many large US corporations are integrating climate change into their business strategies in response to pressures from regulatory authorities, environmental activists, and climate-conscious investors and consumers. While their efforts seem progressive, a closer look reveals that firms are committed only to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their production and energy consumption (Scope 1 and 2 emissions, respectively). They largely ignore indirect (Scope 3) emissions produced along their supply chains, which form most of their total GHG emissions. For example, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that P&G’s commitments to halve pollution by 2030 only apply to its Scope 1 and 2 emissions. NRDC alleges that this target only represents 2% of P&G’s total GHG emissions if Scope 3 emissions are considered. Lilian’s project examines whether and how US firms reduce their carbon footprints to tackle global climate change and evaluates their real and financial implications. Her research provides robust evidence that firms actively outsource their carbon emissions to overseas suppliers as domestic pressure to reduce emissions intensifies, leading to greater risks and lower valuations. 

Evaluation of Wage Subsidies for Public Corporations during COVID-19 using Legislative and Accounting Disclosures

Principal Investigator: Amin Mawani

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) was designed as a bailout for employees who had been sidelined from employment through no fault of their own. However, the eligibility rules for the subsidy made it clear that it was more of a business subsidy and not a wage subsidy for jobs that would otherwise have been lost. CEWS recipients did not have to demonstrate the need for cash, and therefore the subsidy could flow through to higher reported income and/or higher dividend payouts.

Managers could claim a responsibility to shareholders to take advantage of legislation to maximize subsidies receivable, since otherwise they would face a cost disadvantage against their competitors who may receive CEWS.

This research examines the characteristics of firms that voluntarily disclosed the wage subsidy they received.  Amin hypothesizes that firms may be reluctant to disclose their CEWS if they increased their dividend payouts or reported large declines in incomes in the same year. This may reflect firms’ reluctance to disclose business subsidies being diverted to shareholders in the form of higher dividends or remind investors that reported incomes would be worse in the absence of CEWS.

Global Sustainability Standards in National Context: Comparing Business-Government Interactions in Argentina, Brazil, and Canada

Principal Investigator: Burkard Eberlein

Sustainability standards play an important role in the governance of responsible business conduct in the global economy. Most major companies have committed to voluntary standards that demand environmental and social performance along global supply chains. However, de-globalization, disruptions in supply chains and the resurgence of national economic priorities suggest government pushback against global standards.

Why and how do national governments strategically engage with global sustainability standards, in the context of industrial priorities? More specifically: how do different configurations of business-government relations shape national government responses to global sustainability standards?

The project addresses this question through a case-study comparison of business-government relations in three countries and two industries. Argentina and Brazil, the two major economies of South America, are contrasted with Canada in the Global North. In all three countries, we compare two industries that present major sustainability concerns: soybean (deforestation, land use) and mining (environmental degradation and community impacts). This project’s central objective is to understand why and how national governments choose to either adopt and harness global sustainability standards, or repurpose, replace or even reject them, in favour of national standards.

 

SSHRC CONNECTION GRANTS

Disruption, Transformation, Stability: Exploring Industry Dynamics over Time and Space

Principal Investigator: Matthias Kipping

Why have certain industries experienced multiple disruptions within a short time, while others have remained stable for decades and even centuries? Why have some industries moved locations within and across countries while others have continued to flourish close to their geographic origins? These questions have been addressed in a variety of disciplines, including economics, sociology, political science, and business research. They have taken on greater relevance today when many sectors around the globe are experiencing significant upheavals due to the pandemic, new business models, and technological innovations.

Exploring the dynamics of stability and change in a wide range of industries is the purpose of The Oxford Handbook of Industry Dynamics, edited by Matthias Kipping, Takafumi Kurosawa and Eleanor Westney, which brings together experts from multiple fields. The connection grant allows editors and contributors to meet and discuss these questions with each other as well as graduate students and practitioners. The first meeting in Kyoto in October 2019 was followed by numerous small-scale Zoom workshops, with an in-person workshop planned for June in Madrid and a final conference at Schulich in September 2022.

 

PARTNERSHIP ENGAGE GRANTS

Incorporating Traditional Beliefs to Improve Maternal and Child Health Outcomes in Guinea-Bissau

Principal Investigator: Alexander Coutts

Sub-Saharan Africa is a region where maternal and newborn diseases remain a primary cause of preventable deaths. While resources are scarce, in recent years researchers have collected evidence about the puzzlingly low utilization of health services in these settings. Partnering with a local NGO, VIDA, Alexander’s research seeks to evaluate a novel type of health campaign in the country of Guinea-Bissau. This new campaign seeks to address traditional beliefs to reduce both maternal and child mortality and morbidity.

Though previous research has noted that traditional beliefs often play an important role for health decisions, they can be overlooked when it comes to health information campaigns. In the context of Guinea-Bissau, prior survey evidence finds a significant link between high levels of traditional beliefs about health and avoidance of health centers for maternal care and child illness.

By evaluating these health campaigns, the results of this research will shed light not only on the beliefs that individuals have, but how these beliefs interact with information, and health-seeking decisions. This information can be utilized to design better campaigns that encourage more health center visits and healthier communities.

 

Other External Grants

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CPA Canada – CAAA Financial Accounting, Assurance & Tax Research Grant Program

An Experimental Examination of Changes to IAS 1

Principal Investigator: Linda Thorne

Linda and Schulich’s PhD student Sameera Hassan received a research award from CPA Canada to experimentally examine the impact of proposed changes to IAS1 that require supplemental disclosures to be reported and reconciled in the audited notes of the financial statements. Publicly listed companies report their financial performance using audited financial statements compiled according to Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures (GAAP), which are supplemented 90% of the time by additional non-GAAP unaudited disclosures included in the Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A). Management suggests that supplemental disclosures provide investors with valuable and useful insight into their firms’ performance not captured by GAAP reporting. However, standard setters are concerned that management is using this information to opportunistically explain away a firm’s poor performance. Linda and the team are evaluating the impact of proposed changes to IAS1 by examining their effect on investors’ investment decisions. It is anticipated that the results of their experiment will provide insight not only into how the change will influence the investment decisions of financial statement users but also will provide direction to CPA Canada on how best to increase the reliability of supplemental performance measures.

 

CPA Ontario – Thought Leadership

Engage Accounting Scholars Network

Principal Investigator: Charles H. Cho

Originally funded as the ‘Engaged Accounting Scholar Network’, this project was renamed ‘Accounting for Impact’ (AFI)’. The co-founders and inaugural Steering Committee members believe in the importance of academic activism to support social justice and equity. As such, the purpose of this initiative is to create a Network that fosters engagement and impact for accounting scholars. The Network intends to be inclusive and foster a variety of perspectives and methodological approaches. It encourages accounting academics of all backgrounds, levels of experience and geographical locations to join and use this space as a catalyst for reflecting upon which constituencies might benefit from their work.

The Network will include activities like (but not limited to) providing training for accounting academics on how to engage in knowledge mobilization and research communication, organizing events that bring together researchers and practitioners to identify practice-driven research questions and developing resources engage practitioners and policymakers with research findings. Regardless of the venue or approach, the primary objective is to provide opportunities for academics to reach outside the ivory tower and create impact through their research.

Website: https://www.accountingforimpact.org/

Co-founders: Charles H.  Cho and Erica Pimentel

Steering Committee: Julie Bernard, Joel Bothello, Alessandro Ghio and Leanne Keddie

 

MITACS

How Grain Discovery’s Blockchain Solution Can Enable Flexibility in the Agriculture Supply Chain in the Age of COVID-19?

Principal Investigator: Henry Kim

In the fall of 2020, Abhishek Pandey, a graduate of Schulich’s MBA program, and Prof. Henry Kim were awarded a MITACS Business Strategy Internship to study “How Grain Discovery’s Blockchain Solution Can Enable Flexibility in the Agricultural Supply Chain in the Age of COVID-19.” Grain Discovery is a Canadian startup that provides traceability, connectivity, coverage and market intelligence in the agriculture supply chain through its innovative blockchain solution. The project explored the change in consumer behaviour due to the ongoing pandemic- COVID-19 and how this behaviour impacted the agriculture supply chain. The project involved doing secondary research, analyzing various secondary data, collaborating with the Grain discovery team and advisor to brainstorm plausible solutions and coming up with recommendations. This work aided Grain Discovery in securing customers as well as additional venture capital.

Transforming Financial Planning Software

Principal Investigator: Murat Kristal

Led by Murat Kristal (PI) and Hjalmar Turesson (Co-PI), this project aims to develop a proof-of-concept optimization software for Planworth. Planworth provides financial planning software for investment advisors developing comprehensive financial plans for wealth maximization. Current wealth optimization software tends to be domain-specific and thus multiple software have to be combined to generate a plan. The result of this process is often sub-optimal. Thus, the objective of this project is to generate a comprehensive plan where all factors relevant to an individual’s financial plan are optimized simultaneously.

The methodology for this project revolves around linear optimization, also known as, linear programming. The first part will be theoretical, concerns converting the practical properties of an individual’s financial life such as taxes, spending goals, salary and forced incomes into formal constraints that can be used in optimization. In addition, the properties of different risk and safety measures will be studied theoretically. The second part of the proposed project will be to implement a proof-of-concept software application. For this, Python together with the Scipy and PuLP libraries will be used. Scipy is a Python library of scientific computing with several optimization routines, while PuLP is a Python library specific to linear programming.

The final implementation will be evaluated in simulation against Planworth’s current planning method.

Automation of Event Detection for ISA Cybersecurity Inc.

Principal Investigator: Murat Kristal

ISA receives a continuous stream of security-related data in which they detect threat events. The data sources include firewalls, ips/ids, endpoint protection solutions, operating system logs, etc., which together make up a large number of fields (300+). This project aims to improve event detection efficacy by identifying novel relationships between events in the data stream. Previous research in cybersecurity data science has demonstrated that threat events are often associated with distinct patterns of disparate and individually innocuous events. That is, broad contextual information like temporal and spatial relationships among events and connections are often informative about suspicious activity. The addition of contextual information through machine learning-based prediction of threat events has not yet been thoroughly explored and provides a promising research direction. Murat Kristal (PI) and Hjalmar Turesson (Co-PI) propose to characterize those patterns by first training a predictive model to classify known threat events in historical data and then analyze the fitted model’s feature importance. Beyond threat-predictions in novel data, this method will allow to identify event-critical subtleties that are very difficult for a human security analyst to spot manually, thus providing the analyst with essential insights. The result will be a context-aware and adaptive cybersecurity solution capable of incremental learning as new data arrives.

 

2020 Pension Real Estate Association’s (PREA) Real Estate Research Institute (RERI) Research Grant Award

Underwriting Green Mortgage Backed Securities: Costs and Benefits

Principal Investigator: Avis Devine

Dr. Devine’s research, in collaboration with Dr. Meagan McCollum, explores an important sustainability intersection: the financial implications of a green bond program encouraging energy and water efficiency in U.S. multifamily housing with the goal of increasing housing affordability. Diffusion of new technology, such as green bond policies, is impacted by inefficiencies and frictions as the market navigates adoption. Using data from Fannie Mae multifamily green mortgage backed security issuances, they identify possible disconnects between pricing and benefits, as well as adoption trends. Evidence indicates that loans on properties backed by green bonds that incentivize energy efficiency in multifamily buildings receive lower interest rates, lower debt service coverage ratios, and higher leverage ratios than their “brown” counterparts. Some of these findings represent stated program benefits, yet others do not. Additionally, some benefits are observed accruing to properties that are not participating in a green MBS program, despite already qualifying for participation. Supporting evidence points to drivers of adoption and program refinements that could aid in policy maximization. The study’s results carry implications for both existing green bond programs as well as the diffusion of green bond policy into the broader capital markets.

2021 Pension Real Estate Association’s (PREA) Real Estate Research Institute (RERI) Research Grant Award

ESG Investment and Private Real Estate Returns

Principal Investigator: Avis Devine

This study, in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Sanderford and Dr. Chongyu Wang, explores private equity real estate fund performance and voluntary environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosures. Using data from the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF), it examines the relationship between performance for funds in the Open Ended Diversified Core Equity (ODCE) Index and reporting to the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), a platform for disclosure about fund/firm-level ESG strategies. The empirical analyses suggest four conclusions. First, there has been substantial adoption of and reporting to GRESB in the last 5 years, suggesting that reporting to GRESB is a form of table stakes for private equity real estate industry leaders. Second, GRESB participation and performance are both significant predictors of cross-sectional fund returns. Third, GRESB participation and performance are associated with the price appreciation component of fund total returns but not with the income component. Fourth, the relationships between fund returns and GRESB participation and scores are independent of local economic conditions. These results close an important gap in the literature about private equity real estate fund performance and ESG/climate change mitigation efforts in commercial real estate markets.

Other Internal Grants

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York University VPRI’s inaugural Catalyzing Interdisciplinary Research Clusters (CIRC) initiative

Digital Currencies: Present and Future

Principal Investigator: Henry Kim

In November 2021, York University’s Catalyzing Interdisciplinary Research Clusters (CIRC) competition awarded $525,000 over three years to an interdisciplinary team of York professors to investigate “Digital Currencies” and Fintech. The Principal Investigators are Professors Henry Kim from York’s Schulich School of Business and Joann Jasiak from Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (Economics). The core team members include Schulich’s Professors Irene Henriques and Divinus Oppong-Tawiah as well as Professors Poonam Puri (Osgoode), Sotirios Liaskos (School of IT), and Andrea Podhorsky (Economics). There are more than a dozen additional York University collaborators including Schulich researchers Chris Bell, Mark Kamstra, Perry Sadorsky, Yisong Tian, and Hjalmar Turesson that number promises to grow.

The team has initiated a collaboration with the Bank of Canada to study bitcoin adoption in Canada. They are also collaborating with Stats Canada to explore how CBDCs can mitigate underprivileged communities’ exclusion from traditional financial services. They are funding student and post-doc research into stablecoins, bitcoin energy consumption, cryptocurrency pricing, payment systems for microgrids encompassing electric vehicle charging/discharging, cryptocurrency and digital assets regulations, token-economics simulation and modeling, and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). The team also sponsors the Fields Institute Lecture Series on Blockchain, which has hosted world-renowned speakers.

 

Newly Funded Projects (2019-2020)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

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SSHRC INSIGHT DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

Climate Risk, Information Environment and Cost of Equity Capital

Principal Investigator: Kiridaran Kanagaretnam

According to World Economic Forum Global Risks Report, the top five long-term risks were all climate-related (World Economic Forum, 2020). Climate events inflict severe damage to property and infrastructure, devastating local economics and potentially harming national economic output. Climate risk can be categorized into physical and transitional risks. Physical climate risk refers to damage to land, infrastructures, and other physical assets. It impacts firms through their operating costs, impairments, provisions, and business interruptions. Transition climate risk relates to the cost of transitioning to a low carbon economy and entails rising operating costs due to energy related spending, higher R&D investments for transitioning to a low carbon economy and changing market preferences in terms of both supply chain and customer preferences.

Given this context, Kiridaran’s objective is to study the relations between climate risk and firms’ information environment (i.e., information asymmetry) and the cost of equity capital in a cross-­country setting. This line of research is important to understand the channels through which climate risk can affect the firm’s investment and external funding environment that impacts investors and other stakeholders.

Digital Technology Adaptation and Business Ethics: An Exploratory Study of  Artificial Intelligence in Canada

Principal Investigator: Justin Tan

In recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been widely used in various aspect of work and life. At the same time, the rapid technology development and its diffusion have received huge criticism for violation of personal privacy and unethical technique utilized. Among the concerns of AI, informative privacy is the top concern of the technology. With the assistance of AI, companies collect a big amount of data such as the user’s preferences, private information, online surfing history, and use the information for business purposes. So far, in most area of the world, including Canada, there is no specific regulations or laws that protect the user’s information privacy from the AI. In this study, Justin will leverage his previous expertise and investigate the theoretical connections between AI technology and its social and ethical implications.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Industry Restructuring

Principal Investigator: Yelena Larkin

Corporations have been increasingly pressured to become socially responsible by reducing their impact on the environment. Policy makers, environmental groups, consumers, investors, employees, among others, demand actions to meet environmental norms. Despite years of research, existing literature does not have a consensus regarding whether “green” production is beneficial or detrimental to the welfare of corporate stakeholders. What determines the choice of firms and how to correctly assess their impact on the environment is largely an open question. In this project Yelena explores corporate decision-making with regards to firms’ environmental policy using a novel set-up. Her empirical strategy takes advantage of a staggered passage of restructuring legislation in the electric utilities industry across U.S. states during the 1990s that has facilitated the entry of new competitors. This setting helps provide unambiguous answers to a range of important questions: First, did increased competition lead to a change in utilities’ pollution policy? Second, what actions did restructured utilities undertake to change their pollution policy? Third, to the extent that pollution policy has changed, what economic mechanism is responsible for this change?

Belief in the Implicit Social Contract Governs Pro-Environmental Behaviour

Principal Investigator: Nicole Mead

For the first time, the World Economic Forum has identified climate-change-related threats as the top long-term risks facing the world (WEF 2020). They are not alone. Scientists have been sounding the alarm bell, granting agencies, such as SSHRC, have identified the Environment as a key priority for research funding. Yet despite the mounting awareness and public calls for change, global carbon emissions continue to rise (Global Carbon Project 2019). To SLOW global warming, deeper insight into psychological mechanisms that govern pro-environmental behaviour is needed. In this research, Nicole identifies a novel psychological mechanism which governs pro-environmental behaviour. Then she develops an intervention that promotes eco-friendly behaviour. Thus, this research offers novel theoretical and substantive insight for academics and practitioners who are committed to increasing pro-environmental behaviour.

Strategic Timing of Earnings Announcement

Investigator: Aleksandra Rzeźnik

The main job of the capital market is to efficiently allocate capital across economy. To achieve this, investors need to possess unlimited capacity to process information. If information processing is limited, some information may not be immediately incorporated into prices, which can contribute to market inefficiency. Aleksandra’s project focuses on firms that strategically time their earnings announcements and consequences of this behaviour. The team argues that strategic timing of earning announcement (STEA) impedes investors’ information processing capacity, which, in turn, impairs the efficient allocation of capital in the economy.

This project is the first to document the spillover effects of STEA. The team’s unique data and original methodology allow them to identify spillover effects of STEA and address numerous potential endogeneity issues. Aleksandra’s research is of high significance for investors and managers.

 

SSHRC INSIGHT GRANTS

Accounting Inscriptions and Social Media-based Social Accountability Processes

Investigators: Dean Neu (PI) and Gregory Saxton (Co-PI)

Social media such as Twitter have arguably changed the possibilities and forms of citizen participation within democratic processes. On the one hand, social media helps organizations and people to hold their governments accountable. When whistle-blower organizations such as the ICIJ publish previously-private financial information about the wealth accumulation activities of politicians and businesspeople, social media helps to disseminate the information and provides a venue for public discussion. On the other hand, the unorganized nature of social media and the speed at which social media disseminates information makes it a particularly virulent site for ‘fake’ news, including fake news involving accounting numbers and inscriptions. Dean and Gregory’s program of research uses large-scale data from Twitter to examine how the release of previously-private financial information by whistler-blower organizations such as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) puts into motion new social accountability processes and transforms the ways that accounting inscriptions participate in the subsequent social accountability conversation.

Accounting Interrogations: Good Questions, Good Answers, and the Roles of Voice and Silence

Principal Investigator: Matthew (Matt) Bamber

This study will focus on an important recent addition to the financial reporting calendar, namely the Question and Answer (Q&A) session between management and financial analysts which occurs during a firm’s quarterly financial results presentation. During this live webcast and transcribed meeting, management put forward their narrative of the firm’s financial results, before being interrogated by financial analysts on a range of issues, (assumedly) chosen at the discretion of the question-askers. This is a key event in a large listed company’s financial calendar. The results presentation – particularly the Q&A – has been shown to be socially, politically, and economically valuable. Not only is this the first contact between the firm and investors after the closed period, it also represents an increasingly rare opportunity for analysts to interact with management. In many cases, sell-side analyst-manager meetings are limited to these quarterly results presentations. Despite this, these Q&A events remain under-studied, poorly understood, and are woefully under-theorised.

Matt’s program of research will address a series of fundamental inter-related questions related to these Q&A. Key questions include: What is (not) a good question to ask during a firm’s Q&A? What is (not) a good answer for management to provide? When, under what circumstances, and why do management not provide answers to analysts’ questions in this forum? Whether managerial non-responses (silence) are received as bad news, and if so (not), why (why not)?

Other External Grants

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CAAA – THE CANADIAN ACADEMIC ACCOUNTING ASSOCIATION 

Canadian Modern Slavery Supply Chain Transparency and Reporting Legislation: A Behind-the-Scene Investigation
Principal Investigator: Charles H. Cho

Charles’ research stands to offer unique insight into how transparency and reporting legislation focused on modern slavery in the supply chain, which has key implications for our understanding of combating modern slavery and the changing demands and social expectations of businesses, particularly in human rights. Key objectives include: (1) To explore how supply chain transparency and reporting legislation focused on modern slavery is developed and shaped when multiple models of legislation exist (e.g., UK vs. France); (2) To identify and map out the key actors involved in creation of such legislation and how they may impact the process, eventual legislation, effectiveness of such legislation, and subsequent business practices – taking Canada as an example case; (3) To advance our understanding of the changing demands and social expectations of businesses, particularly in human rights.

THE INDIVIDUAL FINANCE & INSURANCE DECISIONS CENTRE (THE IFID CENTRE)

Mortality Shocks and Lifecycle Finance
Principal Investigator: Moshe A. Milevsky

This 2-year research project aims to investigate the impact of mortality shocks – both negative as well as positive – on optimal economic behavior in a lifecycle model of investment and consumption. The narrow technical question to be investigated is how a rational utility maximizing agent should adjust their holdings of life insurance and retirement annuities when they receive new information that “shocks” their mortality beliefs. Are they more likely to discount the future and ignore long term risks? Or does the heightened salience of new risks increase the demand for protection? More broadly, the project will collect data and carefully examine how North American consumers reacted and adjusted to covid-19 risks, within the context of their personal finances and insurance. From the perspective of a business school, if consumers are indeed changing the types of financial products they value post-pandemic, then financial services companies must adjust their offerings and menus accordingly.

Newly Funded Projects (2018-2019)

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

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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)

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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 signalling. 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

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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.

Research Support

The Schulich Research Office contributes to the development and delivery of information and is here to assist Schulich researchers in producing complete, strong, and competitive applications for research funding.

Services offered:

  • Develop Faculty wide research initiatives to foster research culture
  • Aid with research planning and communication
  • Identify funding opportunities and support strategies to secure funding
  • Facilitate and advise on grant applications and budgets
  • Liaise with funding agencies or institutions to clarify policy questions or procedures
  • Liaise with the Office of Research Services (ORS), Office of Research Ethics, and Office of the Vice President, Research and Innovation (VPRI)
  • Faculty level Research Ethics approval: Schulich’s Multidisciplinary Research and Library Committee reviews research protocols for research projects by students that involved human participation
  • Documents and Forms

Research Support Contact

Head shot of Dirk Matten

Dr. Dirk Matten

Professor of Strategy
Associate Dean, Research
dmatten@schulich.yorku.ca

Farhana S IslamDr. Farhana Shumu Islam

Research Officer
Office of the Associate Dean, Research
fsislam@schulich.yorku.ca