School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

The right tech to launch – Meet Ting Li

PhD, Management (Management Information Systems)

by Phil Gaudreau

Ting Li

Maybe you’ve thought about starting your own business. Do you know which digital technologies you will need? How do you know which solutions will be the best fit for your business?

Ting Li’s research suggests these questions are no small issues. Ting is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the management information systems program, and her research looks at how companies harness digital technology for entrepreneurial innovation. Working with her supervisor, Dr. Yolande Chan, she noted companies with similar ideas and IT infrastructural components can perform very differently.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about the expertise and how to leverage your capabilities,” Ting says. “I am looking at how a company’s IT capabilities can promote performance and social impact, with the goal of creating a diagnostic tool that will help companies identify areas for change or improvement.”

Ting first became interested in the topic when she came to Canada to complete her masters. As she concluded that program, she met Dr. Chan and recognized she wanted to continue her studies.

“I turned down other offers to come to Queen’s and work with Dr. Chan,” she says. “She is very considerate and knowledgeable, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to work and co-publish journal articles with her.”

During her time at Queen’s, Ting has also explored her interest in university-based business incubators. She spoke to over 10 university incubators across Canada, receiving a warm welcome particularly in the Kingston area. Her research will result in recommendations for university incubators seeking to help student and faculty entrepreneurs.

“Unlike incubators in Silicon Valley, university incubators focus on more than just start-ups’ profit-creating potential – they also have diverse objectives like promoting experiential learning, encouraging job creation, addressing regional issues, and creating talented entrepreneurs,” she says. “Small businesses are very important to our economy, and I hope to help university incubators develop a better understanding of their client start-ups and improve these incubators’ performance.”

Once she completes her PhD next year, Ms. Li wants to continue her research in academia, preferably in a Canadian university. She is also considering a post-doctoral position for a year or two to help further her research on university incubators, and she hopes to use this information to support entrepreneurs, university incubators, and other stakeholders such as industry partners and local communities in the innovation ecosystem from an academic way.

Ms. Li credits the quiet nature of Kingston and the useful writing retreats organized by the School of Graduate Studies for the steady progress she has made in her studies. When she’s not buried in readings, she spends time with her husband and two cats, visits the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) to go swimming, and is preparing for her first child.

“I am really happy to be in Kingston,” she says. “In a smaller community you feel like you’re in a big family. On my first day in town, as I was heading home with seven big grocery bags, a lady asked me where I was going and gave me a lift home. I never experienced that in Vancouver.”

To learn more about the PhD in Management Information Systems, visit the Smith School of Business website.