Research Projects

The Silent Killer: Advancing Knowledge on Silence and its Impact on Errors and Safety (2016-2019)

Investigator/s: Helena NguyenAnya Johnson

This project will investigate how silence emerges in teams, what sustains it, and how it affects error and safety outcomes. Employees often choose to remain silent about important issues at work, which can have devastating consequences. Although silence is a complex individual phenomenon, there is little knowledge of silence as a collective phenomenon, or how it spreads and becomes the norm in teams and organisations. This project will investigate silence using multilevel, longitudinal designs and by testing novel interventions. This research is expected to affect how teams work and communicate effectively to reduce dangerous forms of silence and improve safety.

Compassion at the heart of well-being: An inter- disciplinary study of well-being in a healthcare setting (2016-2018)

Investigator/s: Anya JohnsonHelena Nguyen

This project uses multiple disciplinary perspectives to explore: a) the nature of compassion and well-being, and the ways they are related; b) the acceptability and effectiveness of interventions to enhance compassion and well-being; and c) the effects of these interventions on both the individual and those around them. The core of the project is a randomised control trial with nurses, for whom compassion and well-being are vital to the provision of quality care, but who often work in settings which produce high stress, emotional overload, overwork, and ‘compassion fatigue’. The RCT compares two compassion-based interventions and a control condition using a research design which incorporates qualitative and quantitative outcome measures in participants as well as staff and patients with whom they interact. The study employs a number of objective measures such as psychophysiological markers of stress and resilience, social network analysis, and ethnographic observations. Our project aims to contribute to the best-practice design of interventions to enhance compassion and well-being.

Australia's role in Global Financial and Production Networks (2016-2018)

Investigator/s: Eric Knight

The project intends to address a major deficit of knowledge about the ways financial centres develop and compete among a network of international centres. Australia’s long-term economic future is closely tied to providing financial services throughout Asia. Yet very little attention has been given to analysing the structures and networks that enable internationalisation, in particular the performance of Sydney and Melbourne as competitive financial centres within a network of financial centres in East and South-East Asia. Using specialist industry databases and intensive case study methods, this project plans to examine the processes underpinning the growth of this network, map scenarios for the next two decades, and advise on policy implications arising from the 2013–14 Financial System Inquiry.

The Human Side of Energy Security (2016-2018)

Investigator/s: Jane LêChristopher Wright

This project plans to develop a decision enactment model to guide industry and policy makers in producing more effective energy decisions. Managing our energy supply to ensure access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy is vital to Australian economic growth and quality of life. However, energy security is continually under threat from manipulation of supply, ageing infrastructure and natural disasters. Solutions from economic and engineering perspectives only partially address these issues because they overlook critical human factors that underpin energy security. The project plans to use a practice-based approach to examine energy-related firms and agencies to explain how decisions and actions that take place within these contexts shape our energy future.

An investigation into the use of performance measures in private prisons: A national review (2016 - 2017)

Investigator/s: Max BakerJane Andrew

The project investigates the use of financial and non-financial performance measurement systems in private prisons. We examine the impact of these systems on prison performance, including their direct and indirect affects on public accountability, cost effectiveness and the efficiency within the sector. In addition, our work will consider whether or not the lived experience of the prison can be accurately captured in the reporting process.

Compassion at the Heart of Health Care at Sydney Local Health District (2015-2017)

Investigator/s: Anya JohnsonHelena Nguyen

This project will investigate nurse / midwife practice of compassionate patient-centred care throughout the Sydney Local Health District. Specifically we will identify the individual- and team-level factors that facilitate and enable nurses / midwives to engage in compassionate care and that encourage compassion and well-being at work more generally? This longitudinal, multilevel project will also evaluate specific interventions designed to enhance compassion in the workplace.

The Costs, Performance, Efficiency and Accountability of Australian Private Prisons (2015-2016)

Investigator/s: Jane AndrewMax Baker

The aim of the project is to examine the costs, performance, efficiency and accountability of Australian private prisons. The project draws on publicly available data from a range of sources which include each State government treasury budgets, annual reports from private operators, inspectors, Ombudsman and Auditor Generals as well as research, media and independent inquiries. The project has developed the following outcomes 1. A comprehensive database populated with publicly available data on private prisons within Australia. 2. A State of the Nation report which reviews the regulatory oversight and publicly available information on the costs, performance, efficiency and accountability of all private prisons on a state by state basis. The project will inform the current and future debates surrounding State Government prison policy.

International competitiveness of Australia’s financial services sector: fulfilling the mandate of the Financial System Inquiry (2015)

Investigator/s: Eric Knight

In the original Terms of Reference for the Financial System Inquiry, the Government put a strong emphasis on evaluating the international competitiveness of Australia’s financial sector. This issue looms large as Australia seeks to take advantage of its Asian geography whilst being located within the most competitive financial time zone in the world. Although addressed in the Interim Report and canvassed throughout the Final Report, only two recommendations (#14 and #27) directly address international competitiveness. Both recommendations seek to establish new working groups to assess and monitor policy coordination between financial institutions and public entities. This project will devise a set of metrics to measure and evaluate the performance of Australia’s financial services sector within the region, providing more detailed measures to assess Australia’s relative position than used in the FSI Final Report. These measures serve to benchmark historical performance of Sydney and Melbourne as financial centres, and will underpin forward-looking recommendations for policy interventions to drive competitiveness in underperforming areas, which are identified in our analysis.

Creating sustainable and effective healthcare: A Multilevel investigation of the links between team processes and climates, nurse outcomes and effective patient care (2015)

Investigator/s: Anya JohnsonHelena Nguyen

As frontline employees, nurses are often confronted with enormous challenges in providing effective patient care to a growing and ageing population with increasingly complex needs. In this project, we aim to identify the features of high-functioning nursing teams that enable effective patient care. Using longitudinal and multi-level design across 200 teams in 8 hospitals, we examine how team characteristics and processes, combined with individual dynamics influences job attitudes, patient-centred outcomes and team performance over time. Importantly, we identify the levers for improving the capacity of nurses, and the culture of nursing teams to ensure the provision of sustainable high-quality care.

Strategy and identity work (2013-2017)

Investigator/s: David Oliver

The objective of this research program is to understand how identity and strategy work interact and co-evolve in situations of identity tension. In particular, we focus on 1) how strategy narratives draw on and (re)construct the identities of organisations and organisational stakeholders over time, 2) how organisational leaders (re)construct identities in the course of developing and implementing strategy, and 3) how discourse, material practices and space contribute to identity construction during strategising. The research program focuses on research settings characterised by identity tensions and challenges, including new start-ups, pluralistic organisations imbued with fundamental value tensions, and permanently failing organisations that persist despite continued threats to survival.

Managing age in organisational context: a comparative study of the meaning of age among managers (2012-2014)

Investigator/s: Leanne Cutcher

Australians are currently being encouraged to work longer to maximise their contribution to the economy but they often report there are organisational barriers to doing so. This study offers a new approach to understanding age focusing on managers and offers a framework of effective strategies for employers in managing age.