Groundbreaking ideas and research for engaged leaders
Rotman Insights Hub | University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management Groundbreaking ideas and research for engaged leaders
Rotman Insights Hub | University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

May 2021: Rotman professors on why power sharing works, what cities will look like after the pandemic and more

Read time:

Tiziana Casciaro, Joshua Gans, Richard Florida, Peter Zhang

In May 2021, COVID-19 vaccination rates were climbing and communities were reflecting on how businesses and cities would need to change. Here’s what experts across the Rotman School of Management had to say about leadership, real estate, what cities could look like and vaccination regulations.

For too long, business has functioned by having a small group of people (executives, select board members and select shareholders) retain power and exert control over resources, hiring practices, compensation, and organizational priorities, Tiziana Casciaro explains in her piece for Harvard Business Review. She and Julie Battilana, the Joseph C. Wilson professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, discuss power sharing to change corporations for the better. They recommend starting with revamping boards so that employees and stakeholders have more power and holding companies accountable when it comes to environmental and social performance.

“There are moments in history that present critical windows of opportunity for deep change. This is one of them. We cannot afford to miss this chance to redistribute power to create a more just, equitable, and greener society,” writes Casciaro, the Marcel Desautels chair in Integrative Thinking and a professor in the organizational behavior and HR management area at Rotman.

It might also be time to shake up Toronto real estate. Joshua Gans, who hails from Melbourne, Australia where selling homes by open auction is common, argues that the practice is efficient and can take some of the guesswork out of the bidding process. In his piece for The Toronto Star, he explains why homes should be allowed to sell in open auction.

“In the end, it isn’t about prices. Auctions won’t put a lid on that. It is about transparency,” says Gans, who is the Jeffrey S. Skoll chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a professor in the strategic management area at Rotman. “You wouldn’t buy a house without looking inside. You shouldn't have to buy one without knowing what the process really is.”

As cities spring back to life, Richard Florida considers how urban centres will be transformed because of the pandemic in a piece for Bloomberg City Lab. He hopes that central business districts will transform into neighbourhoods where people can not only work, but live and play.

In a separate piece for City Journal, he and his co-author elaborate on the potential to change communities for the better — cities could become more livable and inclusive, suburbs could become worker-friendly and rural areas can become more vibrant and populated thanks to the rise of remote work.

“All types of communities will face serious challenges, but they will also have opportunities to remake themselves,” writes Florida, a professor in the economic analysis and policy area at Rotman and a distinguished scholar-in-residence at the School of Cities at the University of Toronto. “One maxim remains true for all: no community can stand pat.”

In his piece for The Toronto Star, Peter Zhang (PharmD/MBA ’22) and his co-author explain why Canadians should feel reassured by the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of COVID-19 vaccines. Though many Canadians were alarmed by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s decision to heavily restrict the AstraZeneca vaccine because of adverse reactions, Zhang points out that the unrelenting scrutiny by regulatory bodies is a good thing.

“There is a collective responsibility to change the narrative on COVID-19 vaccine scrutiny to remind us all that such assessments are a moment of prioritizing patient safety, and that only with the highest level of confidence that the benefits far outweigh the risks, are vaccines approved for Canadians.”

Tiziana Casciaro is a professor of organizational behaviour at the Rotman School of Management and holds the Jim Fisher Professorship in leadership development at the University of Toronto. Her forthcoming book, co-authored with Julie Battilana, is tentatively titled The Truth About Power. It will be published in Spring 2021. Prof. Casciaro was named to the Radar List of the 30 management thinkers in the world most likely to shape the future of how organizations are managed and led by the UK-based Thinkers50.

Joshua Gans is the Jeffrey S. Skoll chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship and professor of strategic management at the Rotman School of Management (with a cross-appointment to the University of Toronto’s department of economics). His research is primarily focused on understanding the economic drivers of innovation and scientific progress, and has core interests in digital strategy and antitrust policy.

Richard Florida is university professor at the Rotman School and the School of Cities at the University of Toronto. He is author of the global best-sellers The Rise of the Creative Class, The Flight of the Creative Class and Cities and the Creative Class, as well as Who's Your City?.

Peter Zhang (MBA/PharmD ’22) is a candidate in the combined PharmD-MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and the Rotman School.