Public Release: 

Rotman Ph.D. student wins 2009 Dissertation Proposal Award from the Aspen Institute

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

A doctoral student from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto has been announced as one of the winners of the 2009 Dissertation Proposal Award from the Center for Business Education at the Aspen Institute. This prestigious Award, now in its third year, aims to identify innovative research in core business disciplines that considers the interdependence between business decision-making and a wider societal or environmental context.

Alison Kemper, who is a fourth year doctoral student of strategic management at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, is undertaking trailblazing research to determine how firms and activists evaluate institutional change. Specifically, Kemper builds on neo-institutional theories and social studies of finance literature to propose explanations for the influence of corporate rankings and ratings on the practices of companies. Kemper is also research officer at the Rotman School's AIC Institute for Corporate Citizenship.

"Alison is a brilliant PhD student who combines an incisive understanding of how markets work with a commitment to helping to determine how they can be shaped to benefit society as a whole. The Rotman School is very proud of Alison for being recognized with this award by the Aspen Institute," says Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School.

"It's a thrilling process each year to learn about the outstanding social impact management research being conducted by doctoral students of business," says Rich Leimsider, Director of the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education. "Meaningful work like Alison's suggests that the next generation of top-tier business school professors will be holistically minded about the meaning of business success-- and that's good for both business and society."

One other winner was selected this year: Emily Stiehl, a third year doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz Graduate School of Business, who is researching the unintended consequences of employing low-wage workers in a variety of service industries in the United States.

This year's winners were selected from fifty high-quality applications through a multi-round review process. The four final-round academic judges were: Tima Bansal (The University of Western Ontario); Ray Fisman (Columbia University); David Hess (The University of Michigan); and Larry Zicklin (New York University and the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College).

Kemper will receive an honorarium from the Aspen Institute and recognition at an awards breakfast at the corporate headquarters of Ernst & Young in New York City on November 6th, 2009.


For more information about this awards program, visit:

The Aspen Institute Center for Business Education equips business leaders for the 21st century with a new management paradigm--the vision and knowledge to integrate corporate profitability and social value. As part the Aspen Institute, the Center aims to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues.

The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto is redesigning business education for the 21st century with a curriculum based on Integrative Thinking. Located in the world's most diverse city, the Rotman School fosters a new way to think that enables the design of creative business solutions. The School is currently raising $200 million to ensure Canada has the world-class business school it deserves. For more information, visit

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