Skip to main content

Aligning Theory and Practice through Research and Teaching

Professor Micelotta presenting to Telfer Executive MBA candidates

Evelyn Micelotta, Associate Professor and Desmarais Professor in Family Business at the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, is dedicated to delivering a transformative learning experience for her Executive MBA candidates by aligning theory and practice.

A robust academic career rooted in research and theory

Her academic journey is a testament to her commitment for learning. Growing up in Italy, she attended Milan Polytechnic where she obtained a Master of Science degree after her undergraduate studies and later embarked on a Ph.D. in Management Engineering. 

During her Ph.D., she had the opportunity to go abroad to Canada for five months to explore other schools and learn different styles of theory and research. It was in Canada that she encountered Professors Michael Lounsbury and Royston Greenwood who inspired her to pursue further academic training. Driven by a desire for continuous improvement, she completed a second Ph.D. at the University of Alberta, focusing on Open Access Publishing and the dissemination of academic research.

Upon completing this Ph.D., Professor Micelotta secured a position at the University of New Mexico where she taught for five years before moving back to Canada to join the academic team at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management.

Building theory from the ground up in her research

As a qualitative researcher, Professor Micelotta finds inspiration from practical organizational problems. HerProfile photo of Professor Evelyn Micelotta research is grounded in real-world challenges, aiming to build theory from the ground up based on real business cases. Currently, her research explores corporate social responsibility, and irresponsibility, focusing on how institutional and organizational factors shape social responsibility or lack thereof. 

Another key interest for Professor Micelotta is family enterprises.  She has devoted time and effort to better understand the uniqueness of the family enterprise. She applies organization theories to examine how family businesses survive and thrive in their institutional environments. In one of her most recent publications, she advocated for a more integrated approach to studying family business and organizational studies.

Over and above teaching and research, Professor Micelotta serves as an Associate Editor for two academic journals, Family Business Review (published by the Family Firm Institute) and Organization Studies (the journal of EGOS, the European Group of Organizational Studies). She also serves on several editorial boards of peer-reviewed academic journals. Within the Telfer School of Management, she is a field representative for the entrepreneurship Ph.D. program, a supervisor for PhD students and has served on several internal committees. For the past three years, she has served in one of the SSHRC External Committees. 

Translating theory into practical, real-life scenarios through her teaching

Having taught in the Telfer Executive MBA program for three years, Professor Micelotta aims to foster a dynamic and informal learning environment in her classes. She co-teaches strategy where her teaching style revolves around engaging conversations, encouraging candidates to actively participate by sharing their experiences and questioning information based on their professional backgrounds.

Emphasizing critical thinking, she applies complicated concepts to practical problems, making each theory tangible and applicable to real-world scenarios. She shares, 

"In a practical problem, theory can help make sense of what the controls and parameters of the problems are. It’s important for candidates to understand what theory they should consider and how it can be applied to specific problems and issues. My goal each class is to explain how candidates can effectively use the concepts and frameworks, in which situations they apply, and then share stories of different scenarios when these frameworks were and when they were not useful. It’s an engaging environment to learn and it helps them think critically about business situations (was this the right strategy for this company at that time?) and become better decision makers."

- Professor Evelyn Micelotta

Teaching the challenging concept of leading through uncertainty in the EMBA

Professor Micelotta believes that the most challenging concept for EMBA candidates to grasp is navigating uncertainty. She emphasizes the need for candidates to develop a comfort level with not having all the information, as leaders frequently encounter such situations. 

In a leadership role, individuals often face decisions without complete information, yet they must confidently steer the organization in a specific direction. Furthermore, leaders must be adaptable and willing to change course if the initial decision does not align with the organization's desired direction. “It’s not a simple thing to teach or to learn,” Professor Micelotta stresses. She facilitates topic by exploring various scenarios from different companies, countries, sectors, and departments during class discussions. This approach allows candidates to practice critical thinking and enhance their ability to navigate uncertainty effectively.

Delivering real-world lessons and growth through EMBA consulting projects in Silicon Valley

Her second course, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, highlights two of the program's unique learning experiences; team-based learning, and one of the six consulting projects within EMBA curriculum. These two features provide candidates with real experiential learning environments. 

The consulting project to Silicon Valley allows teams to apply academic knowledge and theory to practicalTelfer Executive MBA candidates sitting with Google Android statue in front of Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley business challenges. “It’s not just an exercise they’re going through but rather the real struggles of being a consultant,” says Micelotta, “They learn a lot about the specific topic of the project, but they are also learning leadership organically through negotiating client relationships and motivating a team. The EMBA program is a 20-month academic journey which is also a professional and life lesson.”  Witnessing the growth and success of EMBA graduates at Telfer, some of whom venture into entrepreneurship, is a source of pride for Professor Micelotta.

One notable challenge identified by Professor Micelotta is the misconception among EMBA candidates about the ease of teamwork. Many enter the program assuming they possess all the necessary skills for effective collaboration. However, they often discover the complexities of team dynamics, including diverse personalities, cultural differences, and the balancing act of managing work, school, and family obligations. The Telfer Executive MBA program deliberately emphasizes teamwork, recognizing its role in fostering personal and professional growth.

Her passion outside of academia

Apart from her academic endeavors, an interesting passion of Professor Micelotta is Japanese anime. Growing up watching anime cartoons, she developed a keen interest in Japanese manga, accumulating a substantial collection which she continues to keep and read at her parent's home in Italy. The childhood interest developed a curiosity for the Japanese culture, and she aspires to travel to Japan one day to discover the country and its culture first-hand. Manga stories explore the complexities of human emotions and have taught Professor Micelotta the critical importance of empathy, both inside and outside the classroom. 

About the Author

Jennifer Hyland est chargée de promouvoir les relations du programme de MBA pour cadres avec le réseau de diplômés. Elle organise des activités de réseautage, aide à satisfaire les exigences liées aux anciens et assure la promotion de la participation des diplômés aux activités du MBA pour cadres. Parmi ses initiatives, notons le programme de recommandation du MBA pour cadres de l'École Telfer, qui vise à favoriser les discussions entre les anciens et les candidats éventuels sur l'expérience du programme. Mme Hyland agit en tant qu'agent de liaison avec l'Association des anciens du MBA pour cadres. Elle est également responsable du premier des deux voyages à l'étranger, soit à Silicon Valley, et de la préparation des activités de convocation et du forum sur le leadership. Diplômée de l'Université d'Ottawa, elle détient un baccalauréat ès arts avec spécialisation en anglais et mineure en arts de la scène, de même qu'un baccalauréat en éducation.<br/><br/>Jennifer’s role is to establish and to maintain the Executive MBA Program’s relationship with its alumni by way of building networking opportunities, supporting employment search, promoting participation of alumni, managing the alumni database, maintaining communications with alumni, assisting in planning and implementing alumni activities, as well as supporting the fundraising efforts for the Telfer Executive MBA Initiative Fund. Her other duties include supporting the Director on special projects, managing the convocation and overseeing the Telfer Executive MBA Referral Program. A graduate of the University of Ottawa, Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in English and a minor in Theatre Arts as well as a Bachelor of Education.

Profile Photo of Jennifer Hyland