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

Rotman professors on being curious during the COVID-19 crisis, how to stand up again racism and sexism and more

Rotman professors on being curious during the COVID-19 crisis, how to stand up again racism and sexism and more

From the importance of maintaining curiosity in times of crisis to reflecting on the state of America’s culture economy, professors from across the Rotman School addressed some of the major issues confronting us in September 2020.

Professor Angele Beausoleil urges readers to consider the unique opportunities that this current crisis has presented to them in her piece for The Toronto Star. “As an educator and researcher, I see this crisis as a catalyst for all of us to rethink our response to any crisis and uncertainty in general — by increasing our curiosity,” writes, Beausoleil who is the academic director of the Business Design Initiative at Rotman. After all, as she notes in her piece, history has demonstrated that organizations that stick to a fixed mindset are usually outcompeted by those that question, adapt and innovate. 

For those at a loss on how to drive social change within the corporate space, Professor Sarah Kaplan outlines the practical ways in which leaders can be effective allies in her piece for Bloomberg. Leaders should step aside (by resigning from their long-held posts to make room for women and minorities on corporate boards and in leadership), and they should step in front (by investing the time and effort to create opportunities for underrepresented people). Kaplan, who is the director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the Rotman School and a Distinguished Professor at the University of Toronto, explains why leaders should do more to mentor, champion and promote women and other underrepresented people.

With the U.S. presidential election weeks away, Professor Roger Martin’s Thrive Global article comes out at an especially relevant time. Martin, who is a professor emeritus at the Rotman School, goes over the results from the the Persona Project, one of the final studies completed by the Martin Prosperity Institute. For this six-year project, researchers interviewed average Americans about their thoughts on the country and the economy. The bottom line: most Americans don’t feel like the economy is working for them, and they could use their voting power to choose other ways to allocate resources and manage production.

Richard Florida, a University Professor at the University of Toronto and a professor of Economic Analysis and Policy at the Rotman School, explains how this crisis has devasted the American culture economy in his piece for USA Today. “Our creative economy of arts, culture, design and entertainment is no mere luxury. It is one of the three key sectors that power innovation and economic growth,” he writes. “We need a bottom-up, all-hands-on-deck effort to save America’s artistic and creative system, and we need it now.”

In his op-ed for the Globe and Mail, Professor Dimitry Anastakis, L.R. Wilson/R.J. Currie Chair in Canadian Business History at the Rotman School and the Department of History, brings to light the troubling reality that a small number of major U.S. corporate entities exert tremendous influence over stock markets, commerce and the flow of information. He and his co-author make the case for rethinking policy and how much control these corporations should have.

Also, Professor Kaplan and Carmina Ravanera, a research associate at the Institute for Gender and the Economy, explain why expanded EI and childcare is necessary for Canada’s economic recovery in Policy Options. Professor Joshua Gans, who is the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship, explains why rapid testing simply makes sense in his op-ed for The Toronto Star and how to get more people on the COVID Alert App in his article for The Conversation Canada. In his piece for The Conversation Canada, Richard Powers, an associate professor in the teaching stream at the Rotman School, describes how boards can eliminate toxic ‘bro’ culture.


Angele Beausoleil is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in Business Design and Innovation and the Academic Director of the Business Design Initiative at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

headshot of Sarah KaplanSarah Kaplan is Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy and a Distinguished Professor of Gender and the Economy and a Professor of Strategic Management at the Rotman School. Her latest book, The 360° Corporation: From Stakeholder Trade-offs to Transformation was published in September 2019.

headshot of Roger MartinRoger Martin is the Former Dean and a Professor Emeritus at the Rotman School. He served as the Institute Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and the Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship and the Premier’s Chair in Productivity and Competitiveness.

headshot of Richard FloridaRichard 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?

headshot of Dimitry AnastakisDimitry Anastakis is a Professor at the Rotman School and the Department of History and the L.R. Wilson/R.J. Currie Chair in Canadian Business History.

headshot of Carmina RavaneraCarmina Ravanera is a research associate at the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School.

headshot of Joshua GansJoshua Gans holds the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair in Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship and is a Professor of Strategic Management at the Rotman School. He serves as Chief Economist of the Creative Destruction Lab. He’s Co-Author of Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence (HBR Press, 2018) and Innovation + Equality: How to Create a Future That Is More Star Trek Than Terminator (The MIT Press, 2019).

headshot of Richard PowersRichard Powers is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, at the Rotman School. He recently completed a 5-year term as the associate dean and executive director of the Rotman MBA and Master of Finance Programs