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US PhD Candidate and Fulbright Scholar conducts international research at the Business School

07 Sep 2011

Marissa Brookes is an enthusiastic and dynamic PhD candidate from Northwestern University, USA. She's also a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar currently spending semester two at the University of Sydney Business School. Marissa is completing a PhD examining transnational labour alliances, an area of research she sees as being imperative in the increasingly globalised world of today.

The Fulbright program is one of the most prestigious educational exchange programs in the world, promoting mutual understanding through cultural and educational exchange. The competitive Fulbright scholarships support 8-12 month programs of research and are awarded in recognition of outstanding academic merit and leadership potential.

During her time spent at the University of Sydney Business School, Marissa is undertaking research into the causes of successes and failures in transnational labour alliances involving Australian trade unions. This is the final component of her comparative study between the cooperative international efforts of trade unions in the US, UK and Australia.

Based at Northwestern University, Marissa's international and interdisciplinary focus has stemmed from her belief that it is impossible to conduct broad and vigorous investigation in the country of your interest, without looking more broadly. As such she has conducted research in the London School of Economics in conjunction with both Melbourne and Sydney. Whilst studying the spectrum of success and failure in Australian trade unions, Marissa has interviewed union officials and labour scholars, attended workshops and lectures at the University of Sydney and has simultaneously learnt from the anecdotal and informal conversations conducted in a different political and economic environment. Last week, Marissa presented a segment of her thesis at a seminar for the Work and Organisational Studies discipline within the Business School.

Marissa's continued collaboration with the University of Sydney Business School has been fostered by Associate Professor and Chair of Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies, Bradon Ellem. Emphasising Ellem's assistance towards her application for the Fulbright scholarship and his continued support, she said: "Professor Ellem has gone above and beyond in terms of welcoming me into the Business School and introducing me to the wider university community, in addition to offering me advice, giving me feedback on my dissertation, and helping me expand my professional network."

Marissa decided to study at the University of Sydney because of Australia's vibrant transnational union activity and status as an emerging centre for observing unions' attempts to expand into the international domain. She said: "The first thing I noticed about Australia was the cultural similarity to the US, however the best part of being at the University of Sydney has been that as differences bubble to the surface, I've been exposed to a very different and insightful approach towards multinational corporations, trade unions and labour relations."

With aspirations towards an academic career, she intends to "cast a wide international net" after her graduation next year. After several months researching Australian trade unions at the University of Sydney Business School to compare with her US and UK data, she is thoroughly enjoying everything that the university has to offer and the unique opportunities evident for interdisciplinary interaction.

Marissa said: "I wish every American graduate had the opportunity to come to the University of Sydney. The University's wide range of competencies and interdisciplinary interchange has been truly enriching. In the 21st century, that's where research should be going."