Current PhD Students
Since 2004, eleven 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. In 2012, one of our students - Helena Liu - completed their doctoral studies.
Currently, another eight PhD students are engaged in research that directly draws on expertise from within the ODSC Group. These students are active participants in the Group's activities.
Enabling Strategic CSR with the Use of Accounting
Supervisor: John Roberts
Max's thesis explores the role of accounting in enabling Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) within a large packaging company. This exploration takes on three different perspectives: a functional perspective, a critical perspective, and a post-modern perspective.
In utilising a functional view, Max explores how this case study organisation uses new forms of accounting to promote CSR. These new forms of accounting include: performance metrics, operating procedures, and strategy documents, which enable a set of business initiatives that were both socially responsible and profitable. In utilising a critical view, Max then explores the tensions in the organisation between these new forms of accounting and more traditional uses of accounting, which focus strictly on financial performance. The aim of this critical view is to see whether these new forms of accounting provide - or fail to provide - a level of accountability to key stakeholders. Lastly, Max uses a post-modern view to explore the subjective effects of CSR as it is implemented through these new forms of accounting. This third perspective explores how CSR and these new forms of accounting can change the way individuals identify with their organisation's financial goals.
In order to explore these three perspectives, Max collected a number of different sources of case study data. This data consists of 30 long interviews, which range from being structured to unstructured; hundreds of archival documents; and a number of observations taken while at the case organisation. In doing so, Max's thesis makes a contribution to the existing social and environmental accounting literatures, as well as to organisational studies.
Discourse Analysis: A Third Dimension in Strategy Development
Supervisors: David Grant and Leanne Cutcher
Mainstream strategy development methodologies appear to focus on the exploration of time and context ("space"), i.e. these methodologies analyze longer time frames, broader (or richer) contexts, or both. Discourse analysis brings a very different and complementary approach through its analysis of the constructed nature of core concepts of strategy, e.g. market segments, needs, capabilities etc. In mainstream strategy theory these concepts are often either taken for granted or the full impact of their constructed nature is not understood. Maurizio aims to explore in his PhD research whether both the theory and practice of strategy development can be meaningfully understood against these three different dimensions of strategy development. Maurizio, who is a member of faculty at Melbourne Business School, is conducting his PhD under the auspices of the University of Sydney.
Mature-Age Employment: Organisational Responses to the Challenges and Opportunities of an Ageing Workforce
Supervisors: Leanne Cutcher and Marian Baird
The employment of older workers has recently come under increased focus due to the challenges posed by the ageing population. Governments face fiscal and economic challenges in terms of funding pensions, health, and aged-care services from a shrinking tax base and skills shortages are already being felt in some industry sectors. Yet people today have longer life expectancies and enjoy better health in old-age than previous generations. One solution to these challenges is to keep people in the workforce past traditional retirement age. However, this group of workers typically faces barriers to employment due to age discrimination based on ageist stereotypes and is often targeted for redundancy in times of downsizing or overlooked as a pool for potential new recruits. Despite awareness of these challenges most employers have been reluctant to create opportunities or adapt employment practices for older workers to remain in, or re-enter, the workforce. This project seeks to gain an in-depth understanding of the perspectives and policies of an employer with a stated commitment to employing and retaining older workers. Older workers are expected to play an increasingly important role in the Australian workforce and to shape future workplace practices. It is envisaged that knowledge about this firmʼs perspectives and practices could assist government organizations and individuals to develop employment practices that value ageing.
Multinationals in Transition: Responsibly Managing Global Brands
Supervisors: Catherine Welch and Sid Gray
The adverse side effects of rapid industrialisation and globalisation challenge the role and responsibility of large multinational corporations (MNCs) in the 21st century. Although change is still deemed limited, sustainability and social impact appear on top of the agenda wherever top managers of the largest MNCs gather around the world. Jacqueline's thesis is an in-depth case study which aims to develop our understanding of the causal powers that shape change in an MNC that has publicly expressed its intention to contribute to a better society. The focus of analysis is on the sequence of events that shape the emergence of a global brand with a social mission as an outcome of the interplay between structures and agents. The structures that constrain and enable agents, and the agents that act within and upon these structures over a 10-year period: from the time the top of the organisation formally committed, to sustainability and positive social impact.
Using Narrative and critical discourse analysis (CDA), Jacqueline's objective is to shed new light on the inner workings of the MNC and the underlying forces that enable, as well as restrict, its transition towards greater social responsibility.
Assessing impact and performance in Social Investment: Navigating diverse logics in cross-sector collaboration
Supervisors: Richard Seymour and Alex Nicholls
Cooperatives, charities, churches and mutual societies have a long history of directing capital towards social 'good'. Similarly, there is a long tradition of 'ethical' or other forms of screened investments avoiding alcohol, gambling and weapons or other negative externalities. Over the last twenty years, however, a new form of investment activity is emerging on a global scale that focuses explicitly on creating value for society (social, economic, cultural and/or environmental) as well as delivering financial returns for investors. Social Investment involves unlikely cross-sector collaborations between stakeholders who had previously kept their distance (e.g. between government agencies, NGOs, philanthropic foundations, commercial enterprises and investment banks). These collaborations occur at both inter-organisational and intra-organisational levels, and are potentially complicated by the different modes of practice, traditions and backgrounds, implicit assumptions, values and beliefs (held by individuals, organisations and sector).
Complicity - crossing moral boundaries
Supervisors: John Shields and Jane Le
Her project overview is: In the world of work, complicity in wrongdoing can be seen as the negation of personal moral agency. In other words, complicity results from a person losing their willingness to act in line with their own morals. The central concern of this study is to examine how complicity arises in organisations. It aims to identify the micro-dynamics that affect, influence and inhibit moral agency at work. While much research has been dedicated to extreme instances of such behaviour (e.g. corruption or other illegal activity) almost no research has examined the more common blurring of boundaries that occurs in everyday work. This topic is examined with an interview study of executive assistants (EA), who commonly face complex situations that may give rise to complicity. Results from this study will further our understanding of complicity and, hence, provide the micro-foundations for how unethical decisions and actions arise in modern organisations.
Routinisation: Organisational Life After Charismatic Leadership
Supervisors: David Grant and Christopher Wright
Abz's thesis investigates the 'routinisation' of charismatic leadership: a process by which charismatic authority is succeeded by traditional and/or bureaucratic authority. In particular, the project brings into focus the ways in which the values, attitudes, behaviours and practices of charismatic leaders, followers, and other stakeholders inform the 'charismatic mission'. Whereas scholars from fields such as sociology, studies of religion, government and political studies have enriched understandings of this quixotic concept, investigations of its practice and effects in contemporary business organisations remain hitherto unrecognised.
Drawing on dramaturgical and discursive leadership approaches, Abz's project develops and applies a conceptual framework of analysis - 'A Model of the Routinisation of Charismatic Leadership' - to the examination of three case study organisations: Hewlett-Packard, Intel Corporation, and Apple, Inc. Through a fine-grained study of texts, the study calls attention to the processes by which charisma is routinised, as well as the contradictions, entanglements, struggles and tensions often generated and experienced by successive organisational leaders and members as a result of these ongoing activities and practices. In doing so, Abz's study seeks to contribute to understandings associated with the contemporary study and practice of charismatic leadership and organisational culture.
John Thoms (M.Phil)
Ethical Leadership: Studies from the New South Wales Police Force
Supervisors: David Grant and Daniel Nyberg
Ethical leadership has received little sustained scholarly attention and is largely unexplored. Recent research using a social-scientific perspective has taken important steps in beginning to define and empirically assess the nature of the ethical leadership construct using a descriptive model that can be examined alongside other known leadership models. However, the systematic development of an ethical leadership construct necessary for testing theory about its origins and outcomes requires considerable work. This social construct is dependent on a number of factors: the individual actors, the setting, the environment, the audience and a range of external influences, all setting the stage in which ethical leadership is acted out. Ethical leadership therefore needs to be studied in context in order to observe this social construction taking place and to understand each actor's perceptions of what ethical leadership is. Little if any work has been undertaken under these conditions with the majority of case studies being undertaken 'after the event' rather than 'as the event happens'. The New South Wales Police Force provides a theatre in which the social construction of ethical leadership can be observed and documented. Using a discourse lens, the study will explore how the actions of ethical leaders and their followers penetrate the social fabric to improve and then sustain the ethicality of an organisation.
Capable Capabilities: The Appropriation of Electronic Human Resources for the Management of Talent
Supervisors: David Grant and Kristine Dery
The argument that an organisation needs to manage its human capital assets has a long history. However changes in demographic patterns, the 'war for talent', talent shortages and several other factors have today combined in a manner which further encourages organisation's to identify, recruit, maintain and develop individuals who are deemed 'talent'. The above changes have provided compelling reasons for organisations to attend to their human assets through talent management. So much so that the increasing importance of 'talent' has promoted many senior executives of organisations to not only state that 'our people are our greatest asset' but to undertake tangible strategic actions that embody these claims. The ability to effectively identify and manage talent within an organisation can benefit from the introduction of technology and the number of organisations that are adopting information technology to support and enhance policies, processes and activities associated with talent management are increasing. There are also arguments that assert that talent management can, and should be conducted in partnership with technology (referred to in this project as Electronic Human Resources (E-HR)) however empirical evidence that analyses this relationship is limited in both practitioner and academic spheres. Given these arguments, this thesis seeks to explore the use of technology for the management of talent through an in-depth qualitative case study of a Professional Service Firm.