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Scholarly success

Business faculty awarded more than $800,000 in national research grants

By Susan White

Memorial’s business faculty has achieved its highest success rate in 10 years in a 2019 national funding competition.

Six faculty members received grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for an application success rate of 60 per cent. The last time the faculty’s success rate crossed the halfway mark was in 2008, when 60 per cent of grant applicants were also successful.

Drs. Kara Arnold, Alyson Byrne, Rebecca Franklin, Erin Oldford, John Schouten and Jianyun Tang all received grants.

Two PhD students – Amanda Hancock and Ryan Murphy – also received funding. Ms. Hancock received a $40,000 SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship; Mr. Murphy was awarded a $105,000 doctoral Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

‘Of the highest standards’

“Our success in this year’s grant applications tells us that research happening at the business faculty is not only of importance to the world around us, but that it’s also of the highest standards,” said Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, dean of the Faculty of Business Administration.

“It demonstrates our commitment to rigorous research that is relevant, innovative and makes a difference both in our province and around the world.”

Dr. Dostaler says the efforts of Dr. Mekaela Gulliver, grants facilitation officer, in helping researchers apply for grants is to be commended.

“Dr. Gulliver is diligent in her work, and I’m pleased to see the close collaboration between her and our faculty members resulting in this success,” she said.

SSHRC is the federal research funding agency that promotes and supports post-secondary based research and research training in the humanities and social sciences.

Funded projects

Dr. Kara Arnold, Insight Grant, $184,657

Stress and destructive leadership: Causes, conditions and the mitigating role of mindfulness

Dr. Arnold examines three types of destructive leadership, and whether the stresses associated with leadership are a factor that can lead to such destructive leadership behaviour. The project also explores using mindfulness as a strategy to improve leader resiliency and performance and disrupt the processes that lead to destructive leadership behaviours. Looking specifically at middle managers (a group typically overlooked in leadership research), Dr. Arnold’s project has social and financial ramifications for organizations interested in developing leadership training programs and reducing the negative impacts of destructive leader behaviours.

Co-investigators: Dr. Catherine Connelly, McMaster University; Dr. Ian Gellatly, University of Alberta; Dr. Megan Walsh, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Alyson Byrne, Insight Grant, $143,857

Understanding the experience and widespread consequences of job-status leakage in traditional and non-traditional families

Previous research undertaken by Dr. Byrne found that marital instability may occur among heterosexual couples when women have higher-status jobs than their husbands. This series of subsequent studies will examine whether the same holds true among same-sex couples and those in different socio-economic classes. Using the term “job status leakage” to describe negative feelings that develop between spouses with differing professional statuses, Dr. Byrne’s project also explores how this affects each person’s well-being, and how children may be affected by these issues within their parents’ relationships.

Co-investigator: Dr. Julian Barling, Queen’s University

Dr. Rebecca Franklin, Insight Grant, $96,816

Facilitating higher levels of professional success and personal well-being: Why differentiation of self is crucial for entrepreneurs

Dr. Franklin’s research often explores the ways in which theories from realms outside of business may be applied to the study of entrepreneurship. This study examines the extent to which differentiation of self, or the ability to balance emotional and intellectual functioning while also balancing intimacy and independence in interpersonal relationships, influences entrepreneurs’ capacity to self-regulate. Dr. Franklin posits that individuals with higher levels of differentiation of self are better able to think clearly and behave logically while also making decisions that support their own beliefs and values. She plans to examine how this may contribute to entrepreneurial success and well-being. Differentiation of self is a concept related to family dynamics that originates from family systems theory. Dr. Franklin is among the first to apply it to the study of entrepreneurship and management.

Collaborators: Dr. Robert A. Baron, Oklahoma State University; Dr. Charles Murnieks, Oregon State University

Amanda Hancock, SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, $40,000

Employee attitudes after a leader’s invisible identity is disclosed

Academics and practitioners encourage workplace leaders to be diverse and authentic, emphasizing the potential benefits of transparency in organizational life. However, the personal and social impacts of such transparency by leaders aren’t well understood. Early research in the field suggests leaders may become less influential after disclosing an invisible identity, such as sexual orientation or mental or physical illness. Ms. Hancock’s research examines how employees react to leaders who disclose invisible identities, and how it may affect the ways employees think about, and are willing to be led by, their managers and supervisors.

Dissertation supervisor: Dr. Kara Arnold, Faculty of Business Administration

Ryan Murphy, Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral, $105,000

Enabling crowd-based problem solving

Mr. Murphy’s research explores how technology can support and advance understanding of so-called “wicked problems” — that is, complex issues that defy conventional approaches to problem solving such as ending local poverty or transforming an organization’s culture. Over the course of the study, he’ll draw from fields such as information systems, psychology and design to develop a crowd-sourcing system capable of engaging large groups of people. The goal is to understand these complex issues from the perspectives of diverse stakeholders.

PhD supervisor: Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, Faculty of Business Administration

Dr. Erin Oldford, Insight Development Grant, $43,698

A false signal or a way forward: The effect of CEO vision content and communication on firm performance

One of the primary ways in which chief executive officers (CEOs) communicate to employees, stakeholders and the public is through annual CEO letters, which provide insight into company policy, strategy, commitment, attitudes and accountability. Dr. Oldford plans to examine how effective CEOs are at communicating their vision through these letters, whether they impact employee performance, and what effects (if any) they may have on shareholder trading behaviour.

Collaborator: Dr. John Fiset, Faculty of Business Administration

Dr. John Schouten, Partnership Development Grant, $124,239

Cultural renewal in Newfoundland and Labrador: Lessons from Fishing for Success, a social enterprise in Petty Harbour, NL

Dr. Schouten’s research partnership with Fishing for Success aims to understand the workings of a social enterprise finding ways to succeed without access to many conventional resources. Fishing for Success connects people with Newfoundland and Labrador’s traditional fishing knowledge and culture of self-reliance through activities like sustainable hand-line cod fishing and foraging for native foods. Revenue is then invested in free programs for non-profit social services such as Choices for Youth, Thrive NL and the Association for New Canadians. The research team brings expertise in marketing, management and entrepreneurship to examine the challenges of social enterprise.

Co-investigators: Kimberly Orren, Fishing for Success; Dr. Rebecca Franklin, Faculty of Business Administration; Dr. Natalie Slawinski, Faculty of Business Administration. Collaborator: Dr. Beth DuFault, State University of New York at Albany; Neil Stott, Cambridge University.

Dr. Jianyun Tang, Insight Grant, $94,760

Toward a realistic theory of leader effectiveness

Dr. Tang’s research attempts to enhance understanding of what makes leadership effective, especially at the strategic leadership level. Research to date has primarily presented an idealistic view, lauding virtuous qualities such as authenticity, humility and character, and equating these with effective leadership. Yet, a Machiavellian view has long existed and endured, arguing that using illegitimate means such as manipulation and intimidation are necessary for effective leadership. Dr. Tang seeks to reconcile the idealistic and Machiavellian views to develop a more realistic theory of effective leadership.

Co-investigator: Dr. Mary Crossan, Western University

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