Award-winning business prof hopes to bolster non-profit sector

A new professor in the Odette School of Business is hoping his business acumen can help build on Windsor’s well-earned reputation for generosity and caring by bolstering the area’s non-profit sector through research and increased collaboration.

“There’s a need for a multidisciplinary approach to some of the contributions the non-profit sector is making to this community,” said Chris Fredette, who comes to UWindsor from the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University.

“Windsor has always had a strong reputation for supporting organizations like the United Way,” he said. “But there’s room for improvement, especially during tough times when these agencies are called upon to do so much. They struggle when they’re needed most. Is there room for business theory to help? Of course there is.”

An active researcher in the non-profit sector, Dr. Fredette focuses on Canadian non-profit boards of directors and the role of power, diversity and inclusion in shaping change in organizational governance and governing effectiveness. His primary research investigates how social networks contribute to an organization’s performance, by examining how social capital emerges in dynamic networked environments and how that emergence impacts the evolution of an organization’s capabilities.

Fredette said he draws on organizational theory and strategic management to study how emerging routines and capabilities evolve to serve as sources of innovation and resilience inside organizations. His arrival at Odette marks something of a homecoming for him. In 2003 he earned a BComm here, followed by an MBA in 2004.

“It’s really nice to come back here,” said Fredette, who earned a PhD in organizational studies from York’s Schulich School of Business in 2009. “And you can’t beat the weather here. Ottawa is beautiful, but it gets cold there.”

Prior to arriving at Odette, Fredette received a Seymour Schulich Teaching Excellence Award. This year he’s teaching an introductory business course and said he’s inspired by the enthusiasm of first year students.

“Everyone is so energetic and vibrant,” he said. “It’s nice to build on that and get them off to the right start.”

A self-described “bit of a homebody,” Fredette said he likes to cook, garden and do yard work, but also likes to get to the beach and go out on nature hikes.

“I plan to get to Ojibway and Point Pelee as much as possible,” he said.

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