2018 Bertram Scholars

The CFGR is Canada’s only charitable foundation focused solely on supporting and disseminating governance research from a Canadian perspective. Each year, through the Bertram Doctoral Scholarships, the CFGR supports corporate governance research undertaken by Canada’s most promising doctoral students.

Julie Bernard, Université Laval

Julie Bernard is currently a doctoral student at the Faculty of Administration Sciences in the department of management at Université Laval,QC. She studies various issues related to responsible investment. She is a member of the Canada Research Chair in Internationalization of Sustainable Development and Organizational Accountability, coordinated by her thesis supervisor: Pr Olivier Boiral. Her thesis focuses mainly on Chair's research theme "Greenwashing prevention and new governance mechanisms". She is also a member of other research groups with similar research interests at Université Laval (e. g. the EDS Institute, LiRSE). She has been a member of the Groupe Investissement Reponsable inc (GIR) team and has been involved in various consulting assignments for Desjardins Investments (DI). Ms. Bernard holds a master's degree from the National School of Public Administration (ENAP) and a bachelor's degree from the University of Ottawa.

Research summary
Julie Bernard's thesis project explores proxy voting as a strategy of shareholder engagement under two axes: 1) conflicting and competing logics (e. g. activism and profits) that merge into responsible investment (RI) and in proxy voting, as well as the potential conflicts of interest that some directors, both on the boards of directors of organizations and pension funds, may face. Her research has social relevance to RI which is increasingly being addressed both by the press and academics; it also offers a new qualitative insight into an almost heterogeneous field of quantitative articles that focus mainly on the financial performance of RI portfolios, leaving aside equally important aspects such as institutional governance.

Hazel Hollingdale, University of British Columbia

Hazel Hollingdale is a PhD Candidate at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Sociology and a Fox International Fellow at Yale University. She evaluates the impact of organizational culture on behaviours carried out in work organizations to create cultural change initiatives and policies that individuals will embrace. Her current work explores these issues in the financial services sector, but she has previously worked with a variety of public and private companies; including utility providers, non-profit organizations, and WorksafeBC to optimize a wide range of policy issues. She is dedicated to providing creative and empirically-informed solutions for real-world issues.

Research summary
Many organizations treat diversity as a goal and not a cultural process. Research tells us that in inclusive and respectful contexts, the diversity of a population is positively correlated with advances in innovation and better economic outcomes. While the benefits of diversity are understood, many organizations rely on sex or race composition data to measure it. This provides measurable outcomes, but these definitions relegate diversity to a 'tick box' status. Innovation is not created by the presence of diverse populations; it requires a cultural environment that values, nurtures, and encourages new ideas and critical thinking. In 2015, I conducted research in the financial services sector. I found that although diversity policies were a near industry-wide norm, most firms still have organizational cultures that value and reward traditional ways of thinking and behaving. I also found individuals from less represented groups try to 'fit in' rather than innovate for fear of discrimination. In 2018, I will carry out further in-depth cultural evaluations and interview senior leaders at finance firms to understand how diversity is defined and measured, and what (if any) measurables are used to assess the cultural success of diversity initiatives. Any disconnects between corporate governance strategies for diversity and the practices and culture of diversity carried out within the firms will be identified, and I will then develop empirically informed cultural change strategies and recommendations.

Jingjing Wang, University of Toronto

I am a PhD student at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. I conduct empirical research in accounting focusing on information disclosure in the capital market, the effect of standards and regulations, and issues related to corporate governance and management ethics. I am also enthusiastic about examining these research questions by applying the latest big-data analysis and machine learning techniques. In my paper forthcoming in one of the top academic journals (Accounting, Organizations, and Society), I examine management deception in the setting of firms' big bath taking behavior. This paper has generated interests from both accounting academics and the general public. In a current working paper I employ textual analysis to examine companies' corporate social responsibility reports.
I have presented my research at several high-quality academic conferences. My paper was selected as one of the four finalists for presentation at the Conference for Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Glen McLaughlin Prize for Research in Accounting and Ethics. I was also presenter and discussant at the annual meeting of the American Accounting Association and the Canadian Academic Accounting Association. I have received research grants from Lee-Chin Institute for Corporate Citizenship and a PhD grant from the International Accounting Section of the American Accounting Association. I've reviewed papers for top accounting journals and conferences. Finally, I am excited to be the course instructor for Managerial Accounting in 2018.

Research summary
The going concern assumption is fundamental to accounting and the basis of financial reporting. Ensuring the continued operation of a firm on a going concern basis is also the essential task for managers, and thus closely related to the firm's corporate governance mechanism. I am interested in studying, under the setting of a regulation change, of how going concern uncertainties disclosed by managers could lead to changes in a firm's corporate governance structure and whether such disclosure can help to predict firm bankruptcy and financial distress. I intend to examine the linguistic characteristics displayed in the management disclosures and whether such linguistic patterns can add to the precision of bankruptcy prediction model. This study will be the first attempt to employ this particular setting and use the data associated with the regulation change, thus contributing to our understanding of disclosure, governance, and going concern related issues. My study would also help to address investors' concern regarding the insufficiency of auditors' going concern opinion as an alert of whether firms are in financial distress.

Dongning Yu, University of Calgary

Dongning Yu is a PhD candidate in accounting at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary. Her research interests include financial information analysis, fundamental analysis, corporate governance and firm performance. Prior to her PhD, she received her B.A. from Central University of Finance and Economics (China) and M.Sc. in accounting from Bentley University (U.S.).

Research summary
The role of the board of directors in building resilient companies
While the spotlight is often focused on the chief executive officer and the top management team, the board of directors has important responsibilities for guiding corporate policy and safeguarding the firm. The objective of this study is to investigate the role of the board of directors in building resilient companies. Resilient companies are companies that weather storms caused by macroeconomic or industry-specific forces - they not only survive downturns but also come out stronger than their competitors. There are a number of important steps in the study. First is to develop a scorecard to measure characteristics of boards in a manner that facilitates comparison across companies on relevant dimensions of corporate governance. Second is to investigate how these characteristics affect decision-making, especially investment and financing decisions that may impact resilience. Third is to consider how the board characteristics and investing/financing decisions affect resilience by relating them to measures of performance across different phases of economic cycles.