2020 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.

Ramzi Belkacemi, Université Laval

Ramzi Belkacemi holds a bachelor's degree in business administration specializing in international trade as well as a master's degree in management science specializing in strategy and a master's degree in business administration specializing in project management. He is currently a PhD candidate in management and a lecturer at Université Laval. His work has been presented at various international conferences and he has also published several scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. His preferred field of research is corporate governance and his scientific contributions on the subject are aimed among other things at better understanding the impact on innovation of the various bodies making up the governance chain (shareholders, board of directors and senior management team). He is also a member of various research groups (e.g., Groupe de recherche en innovation stratégique et en gouvernance [strategic innovation and governance research group] at Université du Québec à Montréal's École des sciences de la gestion management school), chairs (e.g., Chaire de recherche en gouvernance des sociétés [research chair in corporate governance] at Université Laval) and research associations (e.g., Association académique internationale de gouvernance [international academic association on governance]).

Research summary
Ramzi Belkacemi's doctoral thesis focuses on better understanding the link between corporate governance and innovation. To this end, he will produce three scientific papers. A first conceptual paper consisting of a systematic review of the literature on the link between the board of directors and innovation will make it possible to take stock of the knowledge acquired to date on this topic and to generate an integrative conceptual framework and make several recommendations. In this sense, it will contribute at several levels to the thesis's two other articles, which will be empirical works. The second paper, which will be quantitative and based on a questionnaire, will seek to identify the components at the board of directors level that represent drivers of innovation as well as those that prove to be more of a hindrance. The analysis will not be limited to the composition of the board of directors, but will also include the roles and processes related to it. Finally, the third paper will follow the same logic as the second, but will be a qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews. Thus, it will go beyond the establishment of statistical links by seeking to gain a substantial understanding of the tangible way in which the link between governance and innovation occurs, based on the experience of the primary stakeholders (directors, chairs of boards of directors and/or advisory boards, and chief executive officers).
Read Ramzi Belkacemi's research essay

Andrew Gillis, University of British Columbia

Andrew Gillis is a PhD Candidate in the Mining Engineering department at UBC. His research is focused on the strategic decisions mining companies can make to generate shareholder value. He has developed a dataset of over 100 TSX-listed operating mining companies from the past 15 years and has identified the key factors that affect value creation. He is specifically interested in the company structures around capital allocation and mine project approval. He holds a Mining Engineering degree from the University of British Columbia and an MBA from the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University.

Research summary
Over the past two decades the Canadian mining industry has largely failed to create value for shareholders. Preliminary research has discovered that asset write-downs are the largest factor in the destruction of shareholder wealth for Canadian mining companies. These write-downs stem from mining projects that failed to meet critical financial projections on which project approval was based. Several known factors can contribute to project estimating and forecasting failures. The outcome of this research will be recommendations to industry stakeholders that can be used to improve corporate governance structures surrounding the creation and evaluation of forecasts for major capital projects.
Read Andrew Gillis' research essay

Karen Naaman, Concordia University

I am a fifth-year PhD candidate in Accountancy at Concordia University. In 2010, I started my career as an Electrical Engineer; that is when I realized the importance of governance to the survival and success of any corporation. During my MBA, I attended a seminar in Corporate Governance which broadened my understanding of various aspects of governance and which further developed my interest in the field. Beyond my research, I have applied my skills to the business community by supervising an MBA consulting project focused on helping a non-profit organization to improve its financial and governance systems.

Research summary
My research focuses on corporate governance mechanisms and, in particular, issues related to boards of directors, executive compensation, and their effects on financial reporting. My dissertation explores 'Say-on-Pay' regulation; in doing so, I hope to help regulators and firms understand whether these governance mechanisms can limit excess pay. In collaboration with KPMG and Professor Robert Nason, I published a report discussing the unique features of entrepreneurial activities in Québec. I have also written research proposals on governance issues which I am developing into complete research papers on a range of topics, including: audit committee characteristics, CEO-board social ties, and innovation.
Read Karen Naaman's research essay

Sina Rahiminejad, University of Calgary

I am a Doctoral candidate at the University of Calgary in the dissertation stage of my program. After graduating in mechanical engineering, I completed a Master's of Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance at Iran's highly regarded Sharif Business School. I worked at two engineering consulting firms as an engineering manager. My research focuses on discriminating between practical aspects and ethical aspects of corporate decision-making and the importance of understanding context when evaluating managers' decisions.

Research summary
My well-received paper, "Customer Satisfaction and Tax avoidance", studies how aggressive tax strategies negatively affect customer satisfaction and firm reputation. My other research examines differences between reported book income and taxable income, known as book-tax differences (BTDs). Previous studies interpret BTDs as signals of earnings quality based on the premise that BTDs result from earnings management. I demonstrate that, in many cases, BTDs arise from investments in capital and research and development and that observed differences in earnings quality are due to uncertainty about investment outcomes. I am now interested in how companies navigate the complexity of the COVID pandemic.
Read Sina Rahiminejad's research essay

Read about our other Bertram scholars