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PhD Spotlight – Mary Valdes

Mary Valdes

Mary Valdes started the Telfer PhD in Management program in 2017, after completing a research-based MBA in Chile. She is a public accountant specializing in tax law.

Mary is training under the supervision of Professor Samia Chreim. Her main research interests are management accounting, management control systems (MCS), mining clusters, and small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) participation in global production networks. We interviewed her to learn more about her research on management accounting of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Why did you choose to study accounting?

Accounting was a natural choice for my PhD. I worked for 15 years as a public accountant, auditor and executive in several public and private sector organizations. My experience has shown me the tangible benefits of management accounting for firm success and survival. It is particularly important for SMEs, which are the most vulnerable firms and key to economic development.

What is your research about and how will it contribute to academic literature?

I research management control systems (MCS). My thesis uses multiple case studies with SMEs that are suppliers of the mining industry in Chile. I aim to describe their MCS and understand the factors that lead firms to choose their control configuration.

The study is novel and will provide a comprehensive assessment of the MCS and consider analysis for both the organizations and the individuals. It is also unique in that I am applying traditional frameworks of MCS in the context of the extractive industry in Latin America.

What are some of the highlights from your work?

My preliminary findings highlight that a diversity of control strategies exists among the firms, including some that have sophisticated control systems ­— a finding that challenges the MCS literature on SMEs.

SMEs use creative ways to exert control over their employees, resources and contractual commitments, and to cope with constraints they face due to limited available resources and a power asymmetry with their customers, the large mining firms.

The participants’ narratives showcase the industry’s requirements and contractual agreements, which generate control demands over them. However, it’s also emerging from the analysis that managers’ characteristics and background influence the choices of the control practices and nuances in their use, which could explain MCS diversity.

What impact can your research have on Canadian businesses? 

Chile and Canada both have substantial mining and extractive industries where SMEs are crucial suppliers, so my work would also be informative to Canadian businesses. I hope my study brings insights into SME organization and spurs more academic attention, which is the first step to improving policy and support for SMEs. 

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