Current PhD Students
Since 2004, seventeen PhD students who have been supervised by the ODSC Group members and whose work has been closely associated with the research focus of the Group have graduated. Currently, another five PhD students and one MPhil student are engaged in research that directly draws on expertise from within the ODSC Group. These students are active participants in the Group's activities.
Producing 'Ethical Food'
Supervisors: Leanne Cutcher and Richard Seymour
Food has never just been for eating, but in our own time food-based cultural practices have come to the fore in a range of areas – the co-option of food into the reality TV behemoth, changing coffee and café food preferences, and the formation of online sub communities united by special diets. At the same time, an increasing number of consumers in developed countries are wanting the option to make what they perceive to be ‘ethical choices’ when they purchase products. The increased cultural attention on food, and the increased consumer desire for ethical products have together produced ‘ethical food’. Ethical food production does not only happen physically on organic farms. It is also produced discursively when, for instance, cafes advertise fair trade coffee beans. Stephanie's research uses discourse analysis to examine the ethical purchasing practices of residents of the Blue Mountains. By using the complex food industry and a geographic focus, she hopes that her work will contribute to the understanding of the relationships between different actors and the way that they produce ‘ethical food’ in the context of their relationships.
Supervisors: Eric Knight and Jane Le
Artistic organizations often find themselves facing contradictory demands: alongside the economic and social demands, they are also required to pursue artistic goal intrinsic to their business. Adopting a paradox lens, the proposed research aims to investigate the paradoxical tensions arising within artistic organizations at individual and group level, during the development of a strategic plan that brings together organizational actors belonging to different areas of the organizations, both functionally and hierarchically. While the paradox literature has provided valuable insights into the paradoxes of organizing and performing, the paradox of belonging has so far been overlooked. The proposed study will give particular focus to how the paradox of belonging evolves. In order to better understand how people in organizations navigate these tensions, a one-year longitudinal case study will be conducted within a theatre company. In-depth qualitative data will be collected to capture interactions among organizational actors that help cast light onto the paradox of belonging. Specifically, data collection will centre on observations of meetings; these observations will be complemented by interviews and archival data. Results from the study will inform a model that extends our understanding of the individual experience of and response to paradoxes of belonging. Such understanding acquires importance when we conceive strategizing as the resultant of action and interaction of human actors within organizations; this is why the proposed research will adopt a practice-based approach.
Organisational sustainability paradoxes? A collaborative sensemaking perspective
Supervisors: Eric Knight and Suresh Cuganesan
Rapid change and complex contemporary environments have led to inherent ambiguities and related tensions in organisations. The push towards the need for corporate responsibility and sustainability (e.g. through CSR programs) has resulted in specific tensions around the need to develop social and environmental goals while simultaneously prioritising the economic imperative to make profit. There is a clear need for companies to build capabilities to deal with paradoxes such as these, yet they are often ill-prepared for the challenges. Creative new approaches are required that will enable more flexibility and adaptability to deal with the ambiguities. This study will utilise sensemaking as a theoretical lens for understanding and interpreting sustainability paradoxes and for identifying creative new approaches to manage these paradoxes effectively. As the group is an important working unit of the organisation, the study will focus on collaborative sensemaking in the group context.
Supervisors: Leanne Piggott and Anna Booth
Milton Friedman’s view that the sole consideration of business is profit maximisation has been challenged by the growth of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement over the past two decades in both academic literature and practice. While still mainstream, the CSR movement has been criticised for being reactive and peripheral to the core business model. In response to this, the concept of ‘shared value’ was introduced by Michael Porter & Mark Kramer. The principle of shared value is that rather than seeking to redistribute value, an enterprise can pursue social and financial values simultaneously. The implementation of shared value in a business context has been termed Creating Shared Value (CSV). Whilst CSR and now ‘shared value’ have been taken up enthusiastically by organisations in concept, there has been a lack of reported material outcomes. This is generally believed to be because organisations still prioritise one objective (social or financial), and there is a lack of implementation across the organisation.
The objective of this research is to shift away from the theory of what ‘shared value’ is and ‘why’ it is relevant, and instead focusing on determining ‘how’ it can be most effectively pursued. This will be investigated through theoretical lens of stakeholder analysis and change management theory.
Reconceptualising Strategic Renewal by Bringing Agency ‘Back In’ to Absorptive Capacity Theorising
Supervisors: Catherine Welch and Sid Gray
In an increasingly turbulent environment of industry disintermediation and commoditisation, it is important to better understand what makes strategic renewal processes so challenging in practice. Absorptive capacity theorising is a recent addition to this strategy discourse; it attempts to link organisational knowledge production with the 'dynamic' resource reconfiguration processes that can enable organizations to ‘sense and seize’ new opportunities or mitigate strategic threats.
Deconstructing the successes and failures of attempts to exercise absorptive capacities for this purpose is instructive. By means of extensive longitudinal fieldwork with a global organisation attempting strategic renewal, John is developing a framework that goes beyond structural, processual and functional principles to examine the roles of the symbolic dynamics between agents as they encounter change - their epistemic frameworks, value structures and socio-political allegiances. John's research draws on discursive and practice-oriented analytical techniques to develop an understanding of how and why strategic renewal can be conceptualised and enacted more effectively.
Entrepreneurial Capacity Building in Indigenous Communities: An Engaged Critical Approach to Collaborative Social Empowerment
Supervisors: Richard Seymour and Leanne Cutcher
The complex environment of Australian social policy development and implementation has contributed to the historical and ongoing marginalisation of Indigenous Australian populations. The proliferation of identity constructs has further reinforced this marginalisation, and a relatively undeveloped social discourse has created false dichotomies between the idealised positions of being Indigenous and being Australian. When generalised statistics concerning Indigenous Australians are considered comparative to national data, vast gaps in education, employment, health and welfare all point to a need to re-examine these dichotomies from multiple perspectives as a precursor to meaningful social change. The initial objective of this research is to examine whether entrepreneurship can provide a space to collaboratively engage in this re-examination. The subsequent objective is to actively use entrepreneurial education as a mechanism by which to co-develop and co-facilitate the achievement of business objectives that concurrently reorient understandings of identities and how they interact with values, beliefs and behaviours at a broader socio-political level. The final objective is to determine whether and how this approach may translate to different contexts in the instance it is agreed by participants to have been successful.