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Understanding resilience of entrepreneurs - Meet new faculty member Ramzi Fathallah

Two business owners

Ramzi Fathallah was hired in July 2021 as an assistant professor in entrepreneurship and family business at the Telfer School of Management. He completed his PhD in entrepreneurship at Ivey Business School in 2017. We interviewed him to learn more about his research interests in family business and how entrepreneurs overcome difficulties.

Why did you choose to study entrepreneurship? Any personal motivation behind your research interests in this area?

Professor FathallahI am a fourth-generation member of a family business that was founded in 1908. Growing up, I used to spend many of my weekends and summer holidays at the family business, listening to my father’s ideas on how to expand the business or start a new business project. I was always fascinated by entrepreneurs and business families who were able to sustain and grow their ventures, especially in a politically and economically turbulent environment such as my home country of Lebanon.

Do you have any new research highlights to share or new projects that you are excited about?

I have a forthcoming work that examines how entrepreneurs harness resilience when they face different types of crises. The study highlights the bright and dark sides of resilience and develops a picture of how entrepreneurs manage their vulnerability over time. While resilient entrepreneurs always manage their vulnerability, they place greater emphasis on “managing” when they experience time subjectively as a resource at their discretion; they underscore their “vulnerability” when they experience time as a burden.

How can your research influence businesses in Canada?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, entrepreneurs have faced unprecedented setbacks. They grapple with extreme levels of vulnerability and experience extreme emotions. Yet given the abnormality of the global pandemic, bouncing back to a pre-crisis level (i.e., back to normal) is no longer an option. My research describes skills and solutions, showing how entrepreneurs can bounce forward and pursue a new normal. Entrepreneurs can bounce forward by categorizing their emotions, revising their commitments, and working with time by stretching and shrinking activities. We also should be careful of the pervasiveness of language surrounding resilience and the pressure to prove one’s entrepreneurial resilience since these factors risk pushing entrepreneurs past their ability to cope and pushing their ventures past the breaking point. 

Professor Fathallah  is also a contributor of the Family Enterprise Legacy Institute (FELI) at the Telfer School of Management. To find out more about the FELI, visit our website.

About the Author

Rania Nasrallah a rejoint le bureau de recherche Telfer en 2019. Elle a obtenu son doctorat en médecine à l'Université d'Ottawa et apporte à ce rôle plus de deux décennies d'expérience en recherche. Rania participe à tous les aspects du mandat du Bureau de la recherche et est responsable de fournir un large éventail de services aux membres du corps professoral et aux étudiants de recherche de deuxième et troisième cycle. Elle gère les subventions internes et les bourses d'études, et participe à la stratégie de communication de la recherche. Elle fournit également un soutien aux chercheurs avant l'attribution des subventions afin de maximiser le succès du financement au niveau national et international. En outre, elle travaille en étroite collaboration avec le Vice-doyen à la recherche pour élaborer et mettre en œuvre des stratégies visant à améliorer le financement et la vélocité de la recherche à Telfer, conformément à notre vision pour créer un meilleur Canada et un meilleur monde pour tous.<br/><br/>Rania Nasrallah joined the Telfer Research Office in 2019. She completed her PhD in Medicine at the University of Ottawa and brings over two decades of research experience to this role. Rania is involved in all aspects of the mandate of the Research Office and is responsible for providing a wide range of services to faculty members and research based graduate students. She manages internal grants, student awards, and participates in the research communication strategy. She also provides pre-award support to researchers to optimize funding success nationally and internationally. In addition she works closely with the Vice Dean Research to develop and implement strategies to enhance research funding and intensity at Telfer following our vision to create a better Canada and a better world for all.

Profile Photo of Rania Nasrallah