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By Rania Nasrallah-Massaad

Meet our new faculty member: Evelyn Micelotta

Evelyn Micelotta was hired as an Associate Professor at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. She completed her first PhD at Milan Polytechnic and her second PhD at the University of Alberta.  We interviewed her to learn more about her research interests in the area of family business.

Is there any personal motivation behind your research interests in the area of family business?

I knew that family businesses represent a very large percentage of businesses in the world but was not aware of all the remarkable facets to study. I learned about family business research during a PhD class on this topic and have since been contributing to the growth of this research field. I am currently one of the Associate Editors of Family Business Review, one of the top academic outlets in this area. My primary research focus is to understand how society and culture shape family business behaviors and practices. By comparing family businesses and non-family businesses, my research is shedding light on the uniqueness and the specificities of family businesses and shows that insights from non-family businesses may not fully apply to them.

You have a recent publication “When Does the Family Matter? Institutional pressures and corporate philanthropy in China.” What are the highlights from this study?

In China, market and state coexist in a complicated relationship, hence studying the implications of business behaviors and practices is particularly interesting. For example, Chinese businesses are under intense pressures to engage in corporate social responsibility, that is, to care more about the effect of their business practices on the environment, communities, and employees.

In this study, we noticed that in China, businesses are very active in corporate social responsibility and are expected to donate money for social causes. Both family and non-family businesses were similar in their decision to engage in philanthropic activities because this behavior is highly expected and prescribed by social conventions. However, our results suggest that family businesses are more generous than non-family businesses because they are more concerned about their reputation.

How can your research impact the family business communities in Canada?

I hope my research can give insights to the public sector and business communities, especially family businesses. My focus on family business can also shed light on important elements of the Canadian economy. When strongly embedded in a community, family businesses often represent the community itself. In the Canadian context, I intend to show the important role that family firms play in the local economy and how this positive impact can be further leveraged.

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