Archive for the ‘School of Business Economics and Public Policy’ category

Eradicating the ‘purple plague’

July 23rd, 2010


In Hawaii and Tahiti the invasive tree Miconia calvescens (miconia) is referred to as the ‘purple plague’ and ‘green cancer’ because of the damage it inflicts on tropical rainforests in these countries – it has replaced vast areas of natural forest, resulting in landslides, erosion, diminished watershed functions of the forest and endangering a great number of endemic species.
Miconia has large attractive leaves (pictured) with purple undersides and because of this, was once a popular garden species in Australia. It was sold by several nurseries in Queensland and New South Wales during the 1970s and 1980s, before its invasive potential was understood. Mature miconia plants produce huge quantities of seeds that are readily spread by a large range of birds that live in our tropical rainforests. There are now 49 known infestations of miconia in Australia, all of them situated near Cairns and all of them subject to eradication.

Susie Hester and Oscar Cacho are part of a team of researchers who used computer models to determine the time and costs required to eradicate miconia infestations. Susie presented this research at the 2009 International Miconia Conference on Maui, Hawaii, using funding from the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, International Science Linkages – Science Academies Programme. The approach developed by Susie and Oscar has received very positive reviews and is being extended and applied to other invasive species.

Congratulations to Professor Ray Cooksey on his research methods book publication

June 21st, 2010

Research and scholarships are important to academia.  In particular scholarship via the publication of major books plays an important role in teaching, particularly if it is widely used not only in  the courses we teach but also in courses taught by our peers at the national and international level.

Professor Ray Cooksey from the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy has published two important books in research methods (see link below).

The books are published by Tilde University Press (TUP); a publishing house that publishes concise, affordable and up-to-date research-based textbooks, casebooks and readings for students, professionals and practitioners. TUP textbooks are distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Palgrave Macmillan Distribution Services.

Biosecurity and post-border surveillance

May 24th, 2010

Two agricultural and resource economists at the School of BEPP have been collaborating with government agencies and major universities in Australia and overseas to help design efficient surveillance strategies to prevent the entry and spread of invasive species and diseases. Over the past three years, Dr Susan Hester and A/Prof. Oscar Cacho have received grants from several sources and have established productive partnerships with leading weed scientists, ecologists, economists, mathematicians and pest managers at Biosecurity Queensland, the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Th e University of Queensland, Melbourne University, Monash University and ANU. Soft ware they have developed to evaluate weed eradication projects, has been used in Hawaii, California, the Galapagos Islands and Australia.
Oscar has also been involved in a research consultancy to help evaluate and plan the eradication of fire ants from Brisbane. Recently, with colleagues at Melbourne University, Susie has produced a review of national and international research on post-border surveillance techniques. Stakeholders in government and industry have enthusiastically received this document. The next step in this project is to develop case studies and scenarios that illustrate the use of these techniques.
The impact of the work undertaken by Oscar and Susie is set to grow through the establishment of a relationship with the Australian Biosecurity Intelligence Network, an organisation that promotes the use of tools and technologies that have been developed to improve decision making surrounding biosecurity issues.

Services in Local Governments

May 24th, 2010

Professor Brian Dollery, Director of the Centre for Local Government at UNE, was recently invited by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Council Manager Magazine to write substantial pieces on topics related to services in local governments. The article in the SMH on March 16, entitled “Long-term financial sustainability key issue for councils”, addressed the factors on which that sustainability hinges in the long-term.
Professor Dollery’s research at the UNE Centre for Local Government has identified those factors as: demographic trends, council revenue, council expenditure, financial management and council governance.
He states in the article that without additional taxation powers, costshifting ensures councils will never be self-sufficient.
The article in the Council Manager Magazine, co-written with Dr Bligh Grant, analysed the case for local government shared services, including what shared service models may suit Australian councils.

Perceptions of Leadership at UNE

May 24th, 2010

Melanie Fleming (Lecturer in Higher Education, TLC) and Kay Hempsall (Lecturer in Management, BEPP) are conducting research into perceptions and experiences of leadership at UNE.

This project is examining staff perceptions of leadership and how leadership behaviours and practices differ in higher education compared with other organisations and aims to develop a comprehensive view of leadership needs, views and behaviours to inform staff development and to contribute to the development of leadership in higher education theory. The project evolved from the pilot of a specialised leadership development program for course and unit coordinators facilitated by Fleming and Hempsall in 2009, where it emerged that perceptions of leadership might significantly influence the outcomes of such development programs. Initial findings suggest that perceptions of leadership hinder the development of capabilities and practice of leadership throughout the organisation. A further factor that emerged during the pilot was the potential influence of organisational structure and culture on the efficacy of leadership development efforts. It is anticipated that the accurate mapping of these perceptions will enable more sophisticated and more effective leadership development programs to be created, and it is expected that this project will shed light on these influences and from this lead to organisational culture development strategies.

Any staff member who would like to participate in this research project is encouraged to contact either researcher (;

Best Paper Award: ‘Causal Relation between Corporate Governance and Foreign Direct Investment: Cross sectional International Evidence’

February 4th, 2010

01The 5th International conference of The Global Academy of Business and Economic Research jointly organized by Florida A&M University of the US and University Kebangsa Malaysia (UKM) of Malaysia was held in Kuala Lumpur during 27 – 30 December 2009.  Over 300 papers have been presented in the areas of business and economics with special focus on corporate governance.  The conference has delegates from over 30 countries.
A joint paper by Drs Subba Reddy Yarram and Omar Farooque titled ‘Causal Relation between Corporate Governance and Foreign Direct Investment: Cross-sectional International Evidence’ received a best paper award.  This research work is part of Drs Yarram and Farooque’s current focus in the accounting and finance discipline on corporate governance.  Their study examines the interrelationships between FDI inflows and corporate governance in a large sample of 103 countries for the year 2004.  Building on the new paradigm shift on theories explaining FDI inflows, the researchers consider the role of factors such as host country’s corporate governance environment, accounting disclosure standards, property rights, and openness of markets in influencing FDI inflows.   To their knowledge this is the first paper that explicitly examines the role of corporate governance on FDI inflows. Drs Yarram and Farooque find that the corporate governance environment exerts significant positive influence in attracting FDI inflows.  In this study they also examine the influence FDI inflows in turn have on corporate governance.  They find significant positive impact of past FDI inflows on corporate governance though the effect of contemporaneous FDI is yet to be felt on current corporate governance environment.  The findings have implications for public policy relating to corporate governance and trade. Countries should strive to improve their corporate governance in order to attract FDI.  Similarly trade policies need to be liberalized so as to harness the benefits of FDI inflows for improving corporate governance as well as for improving economic welfare.

Fostering Rural Innovation

January 28th, 2010

normal_plant-cotton-ruralInnovation is the creation and application of new ideas into products and services that benefit an industry, organisation, nation or society. The importance of innovation is well recognised by rural people, particularly in the areas of agriculture, education and healthcare. The Australian Government recognised its importance with its Review of the National Innovation System (2008).

Dr Philip Thomas from the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, in collaboration with other UNE staff and Industry and Investment NSW, is driving UNE’s research on innovation and adoption.  Through the Primary Industries Innovation Centre (PIIC), Professor Bob Martin has been active in fostering this research agenda, which has also benefited from the support of the Sheep CRC. A related health innovations theme is being led by Professor Steven Campbell from the School of Health.

The focus of the research team is on strengthening UNE’s innovation research capabilities by establishing strategic collaborations. The approach is to:

  • create strong connections with the private sector and public and higher education institutions;
  • coordinate UNE’s capacity to service the need for achieving innovation; and
  • reduce the fragmentation that inhibits rural innovation-to-adoption research and practice.

The research involves:

  • identification and application of cutting-edge research tools to assist in creating innovation;
  • identification and use  of advanced translation strategies to support adoption; and
  • improvement in organisational processes, to ensure receptivity to innovation.

Dr Thomas recently co-presented a paper with Dr David Evans (Atlatl Management P/L) at the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network 5th International Conference entitled ‘Intentional Innovation Communities; Fast-Tracking Radical Improvement of Australia’s Innovation Performance’. This paper explained the concept of an Intentional Innovation Community (IIC) and outlined a proposal for a demonstration project in a rural / regional setting in Australia.

With the support of Bob Martin, planning for pilots is proceeding with Industry & Investment NSW, an agricultural interest group in Tamworth, PIIC and the NSW Farmers Association. Discussions are also underway for the involvement of other interested parties including Nuffield Scholars. It is expected the pilots will commence in early-mid 2010.

In July 2010, Dr Thomas will be chairing a meeting for CEO’s of Cooperative Research Centres on Innovation and Adoption at the Australian Society of Animal Production Biennial Conference, to be held at UNE.  So far 5 CRC CEO’s have indicated their intention to participate in what will prove to be a lively and engaging session.

For more information contact the researcher, Dr Philip Thomas:

Regional Development

January 25th, 2010

september-2009-268Across the New England and surrounding regions there is an enormous number of natural resource and land use, economic and social development issues to be tackled involving state and local government agencies, non-government organisations and communities. To ensure the best solutions to the challenges requires excellent data, analysis and decision support.

Under the Rural Resurgence programme a number of projects have been initiated that deal with different aspects of this challenge. These include work by Dr Lou Conway and Professor Alison Sheridan and by Professor Brian Dollery and Bligh Grant, all from the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy.

In late 2009, Professor Paul Martin worked closely with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, three NSW State Ministers and senior officials to consider the potential of a regional research hub to coordinate and fund long term research. The active support of the Chancellor, the then Vice Chancellor, Dr Conway, Professor Sheridan, Dr Amanda Kennedy and Dr Jacqueline Williams from the Professions and Dr Julian Prior from Arts and Sciences, has been vital to advancing this concept. The response from government agencies has been very positive. It is hoped that during 2010 UNE will be able to lock in, to a well-structured and supported approach to this research.

This project is a prime example of UNE working with its community to create stronger communities and stronger links between UNE and the region. For more information on this project contact Professor Paul Martin at:

UNE Improving Life in Rural Communities

January 21st, 2010

normal_trees-q0026Rural people and communities experience significant social and professional isolation including the lack of access to formal education, vocational and social information, and professional services. This can adversely impact individual and community health and wellbeing and the resilience of rural people.

Launched in 2009 the UNE’s Rural Resurgence Initiative (RRI), a cluster of research projects, aims to assist rural people and communities by tackling knowledge disadvantage in its different forms. The projects are all focussed on working with communities to improve access to knowledge so as to allow improvements in health, education, social welfare, employment and economic capacity in rural communities.

There are around 10 projects in various stages of development under the Rural Resurgence banner, including:

Access to Professional Services

Inequity of access to professional services goes to the heart of communities. It spills over into difficulties attracting new staff, conducting businesses, promoting opportunities and creating new enterprises. The issues that prevent there being sufficient services for rural people and sufficient support for rural professionals include some that are specific to a particular profession and many that are common to all.

In 2008 UNE held a Rural Professional Services summit involving over 30 professional workforce groups. The participants scoped a research program to improve rural access to professional services. The Summit identified 14 key research issues including; better understanding of the needs of professional service providers, recruitment and retention, Continuing Professional Development, supporting professional associations, innovations in the delivery of services and better addressing of personal and family needs.

Eight of these professional bodies are now working with UNE researchers to create a program to address some of these issues. In August 2009 a preliminary survey of needs was initiated. During the coming year detailed consultation will be carried out to specify the questions, methods and funding support that will be required to address the issues that have been raised.

This project involves staff from the School of Law, the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy and Professor Belinda Tynan, leader of the DEHub project. The co-ordinator is Dr Amanda Kennedy:

Migration Matters in Southeast Asia

January 11th, 2010

amarjit-kaurCross-border flows of people, goods and capital, consistent with neo-liberal doctrine and increased integration of economies, are fundamental features of economic globalisation. However, while trade and investment flows are welcomed by nations, immigration is a contentious issue, particularly in western democracies, but also in the Asia-Pacific. There are currently about 200 million international migrants, of whom about 90 per cent are migrant workers. Mixed migration movements (refugees and displaced persons) and forced migration and human trafficking is also on the rise. For most governments, migration is increasingly seen to undermine border control systems and is related to security threats and terrorism. Increasing population diversity also raises questions about national identity and citizenship while transnational connections are viewed as unfavourable to nation-state sovereignty.
Effective governance of labour migration depends more on interstate cooperation and transnational networks rather than international institutions such as UNCHR or the ILO alone. Human rights and human welfare should be the main priority since the guest worker program is increasingly seen as the optimal solution to fill labour market gaps. The contracts offered to foreign workers are typically short-term, and include a range of restrictions: the majority of workers must return to their home country when their contract is completed; they are not permitted to seek employment elsewhere; they are they allowed to have their families accompany them; and they cannot settle in the country. Most migrant workers are also locked into exploitative labour conditions and the ever-increasing drive for higher profits has encouraged use of undocumented or irregular labour and promoted human trafficking.  Meanwhile, political leaders zealously seek to control mobility through evolving border control regimes, more border fences, and tougher legislation.
Professor Amarjit Kaur’s main research is centred on transnational labor movements; theoretical frameworks to illuminate historical analysis and enhance transnational approaches to migration issues; and research on (and involvement in) NGO activities, focussing on women domestic workers, refugees and trafficked persons. (See
Amarjit has international collaborative links in Asia, Australia and Europe and her research has been supported by a variety of funding agencies, including the Australian Research Council, AusAID, the Toyota and Japan Foundations, the British Academy, the International Institute of Social History and the Wellcome Trust. Amarjit has also served on an AusAID Technical Assessment Panel for selection of tenders for the Asia Regional Trafficking In Persons Project, and was a participant in the Asia-Pacific Roundtable World Bank/UNDP Regional Consultation on the Global Human Development Report 2009.
Amarjit is currently supervising six doctoral students researching on international migration in the Asia-Pacific (labour migration, human trafficking; refugees). She is also involved in organising three panels on “A global perspective on continuities and discontinuities in 19th- and 20th-century mass migration systems” with American, European, Asian and Australian colleagues for the 21st International Congress of Historical Sciences in Amsterdam (2010) and a joint UNE and University of Singapore Workshop on “Safe Migration Channels for Women Migrants” in November 2010.