The Ph.D. program at EMLYON Business School is deeply saddened by the death of our friend and colleague Ulrich Wassmer. After months of a courageous fight against cancer, Uli passed away shortly before Christmas at the shockingly young age of 44. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his wife Cristina, his two young boys Fabio and Dario, his family, friends, and colleagues.
Uli was an Associate Professor of Strategy at EMLYON Business School and was deeply involved in our program. He will be sorely missed.
Uli was a great scholar, advancing our knowledge on interorganizational collaboration. In particular, he showed that for alliances to create value, they need to fit with the focal firm’s prior set of alliances (the ‘portfolio perspective’). Recently, he applied his knowledge to the pressing issue of environmental collaborations. Uli was highly regarded in the research community, holding an elected position in the Strategic Management Society (Cooperative Strategies SIG), and serving on the editorial board of the Journal of Management. He was very well published and cited.
Uli was also a superb teacher who devised great learning outcomes for his students, drawing from both his business experience as a consultant and his scholarly expertise. He cared deeply for his students, who liked his classes a lot. While at Concordia University, Uli won the JMSB Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Our Ph.D. program benefitted a lot from his ideas. Just a month before passing away, he had sent me a wonderfully crafted syllabus for a new seminar aimed at “enhancing the Ph.D. research toolbox”.
A citizen of the world, Uli was born and raised in Germany, where he got a degree in industrial engineering (Diplom-Wirtschaftsingenieur) in 1994, moved to the USA for his MBA, came back to work as a consultant in Germany and then England, got his Ph.D. in Spain in 2007, married an Italian woman, got his first academic job in Canada, before joining us in France in 2013. We benefitted a lot from his intercultural skills, open-mindedness, eagerness to meet people… not to mention his polyglotism: he spoke five languages.
It was a real pleasure to have Uli around. He was always very kind and full of humor, extremely smart and willing to help, full of energy. He was also very modest: I only learned about many of his achievements after he died, while talking to colleagues who were as shocked as I was. Many shared stories, both personal and professional. We remembered when he rode his bike all the way from his German hometown to Lyon, marvelled at the number of working papers he was coauthoring at the time of his death…
Uli fought his battle against cancer with lots of courage and dignity. Always the true scientist, he studied the literature and did what is shown to increase one’s life chances, listening to doctors and adjusting his diet.
I will remember Uli as a very smart scholar, full of energy and ideas to improve our Ph.D. program. I will miss Uli’s kindness and humor. I will also regret having had so little time to be with him.
My thoughts are with his family: his wife Cristina and their two little boys Dario and Fabio, all three way too young to be deprived of him, and with his mother.
Uli’s funeral will be held in Germany, where he is from, and where his mother lives.
Note: I am most grateful to Alice Cherry Dattée for her copy editing.