Students recently awarded PhDs

Max Baker

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: functional, critical, and a post-modern perspective. In utilising a functional view, Max explores how this case study organization 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 organization 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 organization’s financial goals.

Jarrod Ormiston

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-organizational and intra-organizational levels, and are potentially complicated by the different modes of practice, traditions and backgrounds, implicit assumptions, values and beliefs (held by individuals, organizations and sector).

Maurizio Floris

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.

Barbara Foweraker

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 firm's perspectives and practices could assist government organizations and individuals to develop employment practices that value ageing.

Janine Holgate

Governance Arrangements for Enterprise Information Protection: An Australian Critical Infrastructure Perspective

Supervisors: Susan Williams and Catherine Hardy

The protection of corporate information assets within rapidly changing business, regulatory and technical environments presents a considerable challenge to organisations of all kinds. This work provides an interdisciplinary examination and analyses of the theoretical contributions to information protection governance (IPG) made in different disciplinary domains and examines the institutionalisation of information protection governance IPG in organisations.

Susan V. Keyes-Pearce

IT Value Management in Leading Firms: The Fit Between Theory and Practice (Awarded the 2006 ACPHIS Information Systems PhD Medal)

Supervisors: Susan Williams and Steve Elliot

This research addresses the perpetual problem raised by many firms of how to improve management of value from information technology (IT), particularly from strategic IT-enabled initiatives. The research specifically addresses the question of how firms leading in BtoB (business-to-business) e-business can improve the management of value from IT. It focuses on value identification, creation, and capture from strategic IT-enabled business initiatives such as e-business.

Sarah Kim

Post Merger Integration in Professional Service Firms

Supervisors: Nick Wailes and Leanne Cutcher

Sarah's doctoral research relates to post-merger integration in professional service firms. Over the past decade, there has been a wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) across a number of industries. However, the relevant literature suggests that almost two-thirds of all merger deals fail to deliver their intended benefits. A key theme of the existing literature is that the way in which the integration process is managed can have a significant impact on the relative success of merger and acquisitions. The object of Sarah's thesis is to investigate the role that the post-merger integration phase plays in determining merger outcomes in professional service firms specifically accounting and consulting firms, and examine the factors associated directly or indirectly with the integration that impact on overall merger success. It is expected that this study will provide insights into post-merger integration process both in the professional service firms and more generally.

Sebastian Kinne

Discourse and the Construction of Corporate Culture: Professional Service Firm Amalgamations

Supervisors: David Grant and Nick Wailes

Sebastian's thesis explores the role that discourse plays in the social construction of corporate cultural change. Professional Service Firm Amalgamations have been chosen as the context for the study for two reasons. First, Professional Service Firms, due to their unique features and characteristics are believed to exhibit "strong cultures". Second, organisational amalgamations are seen as among the most intense moments of organisational/cultural change. A distinct analytical focus on language and how social realities like culture are brought to life through its use is believed to enhance our understanding not only of organisational cultural change processes during Professional Service Firm Amalgamations, but may also yield insights that could contribute to organization culture literature more generally.

Jane Gyung-Sook Lee

The Experiences of Immigrant Female Korean Workers in the Australian Labour Market: A Narrative Analysis

Supervisors: David Grant and Suzanne Jamieson

Jane's thesis explored the labour market experiences of Korean migrant women in Australia, aiming to hear their otherwise unheard accounts. Through discourse and narrative analysis of interviews with 30 women in their native language, the research both resists and embellishes existing conceptions of barriers to labour market participation for Asian migrant women. Existing research suggests two main barriers to the Australian labour market for these women: English language skills and cultural and historical notions of identity and femininity. The research investigates to what degree these two barriers are a discernable external reality, limiting and shaping the behaviour of Korean migrant women in Australia. It also aims to hear their individual stories and interpretive realities (perceptions) to allow for alternative conceptualisations of the Australian labour market.

Helena Liu

Leadership through Crisis

Supervisors: Leanne Cutcher and David Grant

Since August 2008, a 'global financial crisis' discourse has thrown economies into heightened states of anxiety and uncertainty. One consequence of this has been that business leaders in the banking sector in particular have experienced increased media attention, and in some cases, shifts in how they are portrayed. Helena's thesis examines the ways in which leadership images of CEOs in the Australian banking sector are constructed in the print media before and after the financial crisis. In recognising that media discourse increasingly employs visual devices in addition to the written text to convey meaning, her analysis of media texts will encompass the visual elements of layout design and photography in its interpretation of leadership image portrayal.

Sujatha Rao

The Impact of Professional Contractual Work on Knowledge Management Practices within Organisations

Supervisors: Richard Hall and Susan Ainsworth

Sujatha's PhD thesis explored the knowledge sharing behaviours of professionals employed as contractors within organisations. In the contemporary workplace there is an increasing reliance on knowledge workers while at the same time there is an increased prevalence of non-standard employment practices including contract work, particularly among professionals. This research aimed to integrate the literature on professional work, transient employment and knowledge management, by determining the conditions under which organisations can capture and utilise the knowledge of professional contractors and the conditions under which professional contractors contribute to the knowledge of the organisation. In doing so, this study contributed to a better understanding of the changing nature of employment and knowledge management practices of professionals within organisations.

Fanny Salignac

Reconciling Ethical and Profit-Seeking Behaviour? A Discourse Analysis of the Fair Trade Movement

Supervisors: Sid Gray and Richard Seymour

Fairtrade can be understood in terms of its primary aim: reducing the gap between rich and poor countries via the creation of an alternative market that provides a fairer price and trading conditions for third world producers. In both the academic and popular press, the Fair trade phenomenon has been dominated by the debate between supporters and critics. Those against argue that nothing could be more fair than free trade, and that fairness is not a characteristic that prices convey. On the other hand, the advocates of Fair trade focus on the idea of justice and the moral righteousness of the alternative market, aiming at a socially responsible and sustainable world trade. Fanny proposes to go beyond this debate between free and fair trade by examining Fair trade as a socially constructed discourse. In particular, she will focus on how retailers that participate in the Fair trade movement construct their behaviour as fair using comparative case studies.

Paul Scifleet

Making Sense of the Digital Content Object: A Common Denominator for Discourse

Supervisors: Susan Williams and Creagh Cole

Paul Scifleet completed his PhD with the Discipline of Business Information Systems. His research focused on the phenomena of changing human communication that is present in the widespread re-engineering of documents, and categorisation of digital content that is occurring within many different types of organizations, as they adapt to the management of information resources that are primarily digital in form. The study investigated the challenges organizations face in digital document design and the impact that underlying architectures for semantic information systems are having on information management in practice.

Tony Stapledon

Offices as Tools for organizational Sustainability

Supervisors: David Grant and Grant Michelson

This cross-disciplinary research explores links between organizational sustainability and office-based working environments. It investigates key areas of concern to directors and managers seeking competitive advantage through development of sustainability as an organizational competency and an intangible asset: organizational purpose; culture, identity and image; change; learning and innovation; and corporate social responsibility. The research is centred on a case study of the world's leading firm in corporate sustainability, examining its search for sustainability and how it is using a major new office collocation project to enhance those characteristics common to sustainable firms. Its approach is compared and contrasted with that of other high rating firms within Australia, using data derived from approximately 40 semi-structured interviews with employees at executive and senior management levels and with the firms' design and workplace consultants, and from various publications of and about the firms.

Jeaney Yip

Branded Religion: the Discursive Construction of a Mega-Church's Corporate Identity through Artefacts and Performance

Supervisors: Leanne Cutcher and Susan Ainsworth

Jeaney's thesis explored the corporate identity construction process of a mega-church through its artefacts, practice and performance. Mega-churches are a secularised form of religious organisation which in highly developed societies is often perceived to be a product of modernity. This has led to the commodification of religion but the process of just how religion becomes a branded product which is consumed remains unclear. This doctoral research explores how churches, as fluid organisations, are required to construct a marketable and polysemic corporate identity amidst competition from alternative spiritual providers and declining religious trends. Using discourse analysis with a focus on language and semiotics, the thesis demonstrates how contemporary church artefacts such as music are both culturally and organisationally constructed, in other words, how theology, secular and organisational discourses are reconciled in a church brand. These reconciliations not only exhibit the deliberate exploitation of multiple and disparate discourses, but the use of various strategies in enacting its corporate identity. The church uses corporate strategies such as differentiation and branding; consumerist strategies such as enchanting and spectacularising; linguistic strategies such as personalising and individualising and discursive strategies such as inter-discursivity in deliberately mixing multiple and disparate discourses which resulted in its own brand of religion.