Professor Paloma RaggoSPPA Professor Paloma Raggo was awarded a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant in partnership with SPPA School Fellow Cathy Barr (Imagine Canada) and Susanna Kislenko (University of Oxford) for the project, “The Governance Perspective on Founder’s Syndrome: Assessing the Role of the Board.”

The recent events surrounding WE Charity has brought into the spotlight the issue of Founder’s Syndrome in the nonprofit sector in Canada. Founder’s Syndrome is characterized by a founder continuing to lead their organization past the founding stage with a desire to maintain control at all costs, without clear delegation or succession plans, often using defense strategies such as dominance to maintain legitimacy.

To avoid the consequences of Founder’s Syndrome for nonprofit organizations, it is necessary to understand the critical role that Boards of Directors play within founder-run organizations. What role can Boards of Directors play in preventing the effects of Founder’s Syndrome in non-profit organizations? Dr. Raggo and her collaborators will interview the board members of founder-run organizations, as well as the founder leaders themselves, to understand the contributing dynamics to the organizational dysfunction.

“Why are some founders problematic for their own organization and what contributes to these behaviours?” asks Raggo. “Since all nonprofits need a founder, it is important to study and understand the phenomenon, particularly in the Canadian context since a lot of the literature is dominated by U.S.-based study, and propose ways to support healthy organizational dynamics for a healthy and thriving sector. This is even more urgent in times of crises when change, agility, and adaptation are key for long-term survival.”

Professor Raggo was also awarded a 2019-2020 SSHRC Connection Grant to host a day and a half symposium, “Enhancing Whistleblowing Practices and Research in Canada,” in Spring 2022.