Ontario Research Chair slated for Schulich School of Business

A new Ontario Research Chair in Economics and Cross Cultural Studies, located within York University’s Schulich School of Business, will lead an interdisciplinary research program focused on delivering cutting-edge strategies to increase the competitiveness, innovation and productivity of Ontario’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Council of Ontario Universities announced the new $3-million Economics and Cross Cultural Studies Chair Wednesday, along with seven additional endowments for Chairs in public policy research. All eight were announced in the Ontario government’s May 2005 budget. York’s winning proposal – one of three submitted, all of which were short-listed and deemed worthy of funding – was chosen from among 37 proposals submitted by 14 universities.

Right: Stan Shapson (left), York vice-president research & innovation; Dezsö Horváth, dean of the Schulich School of Business; Lorna R. Marsden, York president & vice-chancellor

“This Chair represents a strong commitment to public policy research that serves the community and Canada’s economy,” said York President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden. “This gives us an opportunity to bring together policy makers, business leaders and academics to evaluate cutting-edge practices that are effective in a range of jurisdictions.”

Evidence suggests that Ontario is not producing as many internationally competitive firms as it should be. For that reason, the Chair will examine international policies and practices in regions where a greater proportion of businesses are growing quickly with a view to assessing whether and in what ways these might be adapted for Ontario.

“The Government of Ontario’s investment in creating these Ontario Research Chairs recognizes the important public policy contribution of research in the social sciences, humanities and professional programs,” said Stan Shapson, York vice-president research & innovation. “The cross cultural search for solutions fits perfectly with York’s emphasis on interdisciplinary research. York’s strength in areas such as social diversity, immigration and politics will allow us to look at these issues from many perspectives.”

One of the goals of the Chair will be to research how Canada can benefit from the multicultural, social and economic ties of people who migrate to this country. With York University’s geographic location at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, the Chair is ideally situated within an increasingly diverse community which has a growing number of SMEs in fields such as information technology, medical devices and entertainment technologies.

“SMEs are critical to Ontario’s long-term ability to compete globally. The Schulich School’s breadth of international expertise, its strengths in entrepreneurial studies and its extensive network of global partners will ensure that the research carried out by the new Chair will significantly strengthen the ability of Ontario SMEs to compete internationally,” said Dezsö Horváth, dean of the Schulich School of Business.

A research partnership between York University and the Town of Markham has already led to the creation of the Innovation Synergy Centre in Markham (see story in the Nov. 20, 2003 issue of YFile) which helps SMEs diagnose their barriers to growth and provides technological and business management expertise from the local community and the University. The new Chair will collaborate with organizations such as the ISCM to develop measures to assess the effectiveness of actual support delivered to SMEs.

In order to meet the requirements of the Ontaro Research Chair process, York will initiate a search for a candidate to fill the Chair and submit a recommended applicant for review to the ORC panel by January 2007. According to published guidelines, “the Ontario Research Chair should be held by an outstanding researcher acknowledged by peers as a world leader in the field. Appointments should enrich the pace and quality of policy discourse in Ontario. Universities are thus encouraged to nominate scholars or practitioners not presently employed in Ontario universities.”

In addition, because of the favourable response to the other submitted proposals, the University will explore alternate ways of moving them forward.