HDR Projects

Two students sitting at a computer and talking to one another

We have a number of projects open for HDR supervision in the following key areas of research:

How organisations can plan for the future of work and the workplaces of tomorrow

Understanding the barriers to implementing strategy: developing a conceptual framework for effective strategy execution

Whilst it is impossible to deny the importance of developing strategies, many have little effect on the organisation. This implementation failure is potentially due to many factors including lack of recognition of the socio-political considerations of organisations, insufficient acknowledgement and management of the challenges associated with existing structures e.g. costing systems, and insufficient support in the form of sponsorship and resources.  Failing to capitalise on the perceived competitive advantage provided by the strategy, also results in learning opportunities that exist from monitoring the success of strategy being lost. Consequently, better ways to develop implementable strategy is an important consideration to managers in public, private and not-for profit organisations.

Supervisor: Prof. Fran Ackermann
Contact: fran.ackermann@curtin.edu.au

Multiculturalism: An individual and team-level perspective

For decades, research has focused on cultural differences between individuals in multinational teams. While cultural diversity in teams can promote more creativity and innovation, it can also increase conflict, and decrease efficiency. Extending from this, recent work on cultural diversity has evolved around individuals who are multicultural and how they affect teamwork. This research project is building on our recent work on the role of multicultural individuals in teams and focus on how organisations and leaders can better activate their contribute to multicultural teams, and how team diversity can be leveraged to attract more process gains and limit process losses.

Supervisor: A/Prof. Amy Tian
Contact: amy.tian@curtin.edu.au

Developing evidence-informed economic and social policy

Lightning, Agricultural Productivity and Economic Growth

This project examines the impact of lightning strikes on economic growth through changing agricultural productivity. Ground Lightning splashes enormous energy on in-field crops. It changes the physical, chemical and morphological structure of objects (e.g., trees, plants and soils) surrounding the path of lightning through dissecting nitrogen and phosphorus, which may help crops. Besides, lightning ignites nitrogen to the soil and the in-field crops may increase its absorption rate of nitrogen-containing nitrates directly from the soil. When households consume such high-nutrient food, they may experience a higher level of cognition and physical attributes. They may in turn become more productive; the economy experiences more growth through human capital.

Supervisors: Prof. Ruhul Salim, Dr Habibur Rahman
Contact: ruhul.salim@cbs.curtin.edu.au

Topography, Osteoarthritis, and Health Care Market: Evidence from Australia

The objective of this project is to investigate the relationship between topography and knee osteoarthritis (OA) in the Health Care market. People tend to experience OA through wearing and tearing cartilage (i.e., natural cushioning between joints) in rugged residential areas, which has a bearing on the overall health care market. Two competing hypotheses could shape such ruggedness-OA nexus. One line of arguments suggests that individuals living in more uneven topographic regions are likely to impose more pressure on their knee joints relative to the same cohorts living in plain regions. On the contrary, another strand of literature indicates that individuals living in rugged terrains induce more physical activity than their counterparts, which gradually strengthens their vastus and tibialis muscles and delay cartilage decays. This study intends to run a horse race between these two competing hypotheses to examine the role of topography on OA and trace its implications on government-funded medical expenditure (e.g., Medicare) and private health insurance market in Australia.

Supervisors: Dr Habibur Rahman, Prof. Ruhul Salim
Contact: habib.rahman@curtin.edu.au

Saving Lives Through Community Healthcare Intervention

This project examines the role of easily accessible localised primary healthcare in reducing infant mortality rate in rural Bangladesh. Community-based health care (CBHC) initiative in Bangladesh, launched in 1998, is targeted to assign each community to a primary medical clinic that offers a wide range of primary healthcare services for free-of-charge. Given its sheer importance, CBHC has been revitalised in 2009 and ever-growing since then. Such an irregular growth pattern in CBHC provides the variation in its introduction across districts and over time, which is quantitatively convenient to estimate its causal impact on infant mortality. The findings in this project intend to provide sensitive policymakers in developing countries on the implication of affordable but effective community clinics that generates significant health benefits and save human lives for sustaining social welfare.

Supervisors: Prof. Ruhul Salim, Dr Habibur Rahman
Contact: ruhul.salim@cbs.curtin.edu.au

Long-term Effects of Dairies: Evidence from Australia

The objective of this project is to investigate whether drinking cow’s milk early in life affects health and economic wellbeing later in life. Humans have an insatiable thirst for dairy products. Perhaps the human is the only kind that drinks the milk of another species. While there is no doubt that cow’s milk is a convenient source of protein and calcium, it is not clear that the nutritional benefits of drinking cow’s milk in early life increases health and economic wellbeing in later life. This study intends to exploit the historical national school free milk program in Australia as a natural experiment to estimate the long-term health and economic effects of drinking cow’s milk in the school compared with their counterparts (i.e., those who were not exposed to this program).

Supervisors: Dr Habibur Rahman, Prof. Ruhul Salim
Contact: habib.rahman@curtin.edu.au

A Critical Examination of Artisanal Fisheries Policies of Mauritius

Artisanal fishery is a priority sector in Mauritius. It provides income and nutrition and attracts investment. It also provides employment, secures food and alleviates poverty. However, the sector is awash with problems. Recent fisheries policies have brought about so many inefficiencies that artisanal fishery production of Mauritius decreased, while total local fish consumption increased. This project responds to this problem by critically examining reporting and accountability of Mauritius artisanal fishing, probing into the geographic and human elements of artisanal fishing that hinder progress of the sector. It is an important project as a large proportion of fishermen/women are Creoles (slave descendants), the most marginalised community in Mauritius.

Supervisors: Prof. Ross Taplin, Dr Myriam Blin
Contact: myriam.blin@curtin.edu.au

Foreign aid and income inequality: Does the quality of institutions matter?

It is far from trivial to understand the causal relationship between foreign aid and income distribution in recipient countries. The key challenge arises from the issues of simultaneity and reverse causation. Furthermore, it is open to debate whether foreign aid effectively improves distribution of income. This project aims to investigate the effect of foreign aid on income inequality in the receiving countries when the quality of institutions is taken into account. To do so, the present study plans to adopt innovative instruments for foreign aid. The findings of this project appear to motivate policy makers given the common assumption of foreign aid has an egalitarian effect.

Supervisors: Prof. Mark Harris, Dr Lei Pan
Contact: mark.harris@curtin.edu.au

The application of machine learning techniques to model health and labour market outcomes

This project will develop statistical inference for hitherto infeasible threshold models. The candidate will focus on applications in three Australian case studies: (i) Body Mass Index (BMI); (ii) optimal education levels; and iii) the decriminalisation of cannabis. These case studies represent three important applications of threshold, or breakpoint, models with important policy implications for health and labour economics. Recent studies in econometrics have identified the significant drawbacks of existing models and have suggested new approaches. Problems often remain, however, as a result of uncertainty surrounding the number of breakpoints. This project aims to address these concerns and identify optimal models based on information criteria.

Supervisors: Prof. Mark Harris, Prof. Therese Jefferson, Dr Ranjodh Singh
Contact: mark.harris@curtin.edu.au

Optimal taxation, welfare policy and pensions design in Australia

This project will combine theoretical and empirical innovations in behavioural tax/welfare policy evaluation and household decision modelling to improve the effectiveness of policy design. The PhD candidate will employ a comprehensive microeconomic approach to assess the impact of tax and welfare reform on household outcomes. They will help to address important policy questions with implications for public spending decisions, such as: How cost-effective are employment tax credits? How can policies to promote employment be best supported? What taxation structures are optimal under alternative efficiency, equity or employment criteria? How should family support policies and childcare subsidies be co-designed to better address financial barriers and enhance employment outcomes for women and other equity groups?

Supervisors: Prof. Alan Duncan
Contact: alan.duncan@curtin.edu.au

Modern Slavery – Child Labour

Child labour is an existential issue with many of the developing countries exploiting children by forcing such children undertake work that deprives them of their childhood and is harmful to their physical and mental development. Such countries, led by India which has the largest number of child labourers in the world, engage in such deplorable activities in the belief that such actions are an inevitable by-product of economic shocks and extreme poverty. This study proposes to collect child labour data from countries with child labour to identify research-driven solutions to alleviate child labour. Such solutions can include governmental interventions such as laws around work standards, minimum age and addressing domestic poverty and also businesses to review their supply chains and practice ethical consumerisms.

Supervisor: A/Prof. Nigar Sultana
Contact: n.sultana@curtin.edu.au

Understanding how brands can better engage with their consumers

Building brand resilience in the post-pandemic era

Brands are exposed to numerous disruptions due to increased environmental uncertainty. COVID-19 posed immense challenges to many leading brands where the brands were forced to reposition their target market, review their value proposition, work with new regulations and eventually reset their profit target. In such a turmoil situation, building brand resilience has become more important than ever before. However, extant research is relatively silent on how to build brand resilience to adapt and/or deal with disruptions. The proposed research aims to explore the drivers of building brand resilience in the current post pandemic era. It will develop a reliable and valid scale to measure brand resilience and will examine its impact on brand sustainability.

Supervisor: Dr Fazlul Rabbanee
Contact: f.rabbanee@curtin.edu.au

Brand longevity – identifying the drivers and outcomes

Brand longevity refers to how long a brand has endured in the society. It is the process of achieving social salience and ongoing consumer engagement over a sustained period of time. Although achieving such social salience and endurance are the key priorities of any brand, yet little is known about the drivers and outcomes of brand longevity. The proposed research aims to better understand brand longevity by identifying its drivers and outcomes. It will focus on developing a reliable and statistically valid scale to measure brand longevity. Further, this research will explore whether the drivers and outcomes of brand longevity differ based on involvement (high vs low) and luxury (luxury vs non-luxury) product categories.

Supervisor: Dr Fazlul Rabbanee
Contact: f.rabbanee@curtin.edu.au

Nudging consumers to purchase native Australian foods

Aboriginal people have been cultivating Australian native foods for more than 50,000 years. These foods are well-adapted to the ecological conditions of the Australian continent and they offer an element of uniqueness in a globalised tourism and food economy. Nevertheless, they remain surprisingly marginal in their share of food consumption among residents and tourists.

This project aims:

  • To examine contemporary perceptions of native foods within Australian society and among international tourists.
  • To explore barriers that inhibit the wider adoption of Native Australian foods.
  • To explore and test marketing measures that can help increasing the acceptance of native foods in future.

Supervisor: Dr Michael Volgger
Contact: michael.volgger@curtin.edu.au

Students of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent are encouraged to get in touch to find out more about this project.

Consumer Biometric Research on Sensory Marketing

Human senses play a key role in consumers perceptions and greatly influence their consumption behaviour. However, consumers’ responses toward sensory experience are often immediate, fleeting, and unconscious. Using biometric measures and immersive technologies, this project therefore uses an innovative set of research methods that can objectively and precisely quantify sensory experience. Specifically, this project will explore the use of sensory cues to optimise the design of product attributes and product concepts.

Supervisor: Dr Billy Sung
Contact: billy.sung@curtin.edu.au

Discrepancies in sustainable supply chain implementation

Sustainable supply chain is a source of competitive advantage for a focal firm. However, sustainability is not often implemented as expected by stakeholders in a supply chain, resulting in the disappointment and loss of customer or consumer. This project aims to explore why there are sometimes discrepancies between sustainability claims and outcomes of stakeholders in a supply chain. The aim can be achieved by collecting, consolidating and analysing exogenous data by utilising big data analytics and cloud computing. Skills and knowledge required in this project are a good understanding of a supply chain management theory, sustainability and good problem-solving skills.

Supervisor: Dr Adil Hammadi
Contact: a.hammadi@curtin.edu.au

Ensuring a sustainable housing future for Australians

Housing tenure and residential mobility among older Australians

The project is underpinned by a number of aims. First, it will shed light on the spatial mobility and housing transitions of older Australians across geographical jurisdictions over time. Second, it will uncover locations where there is significant churn within the housing market or where specific tenures are congregating. Third, it will contribute to an understanding of the key factors which are driving spatial mobility and housing transition patterns. Finally, the project will investigate the policy implications of these spatial mobility and housing transition patterns for local communities and those in different tenures.

Supervisor: Dr Rachel Ong ViforJ, Dr Amity James

Identifying ways organisations can improve their governance and sustainability

Say-on-pay vote: an international study of drivers and effect

Shareholders of public firms in countries like the USA, UK, Australia are empowered to regularly cast advisory votes on executive pay, known as a Say-on-Pay (SoP) vote. The effectiveness of SoP voting in restraining high excessive CEO pay has been debated due to a lack of empirical support, and due to growing SoP assent voting. This PhD project will contribute new knowledge in this area by analysing the drivers and effects of SoP with reference to board governance and investors heterogeneous incentives.

Supervisors: A/Prof. Shams Pathan, Prof. Robert Durand
Contact: m.pathan@curtin.edu.au

Non-compete provisions and bank transparency

Enhancing the transparency of banks is essential for increasing bank stability and market value, and for reducing bank panic, rollover risk and cost of debt financing. A growing body of research shows that including ‘non-compete provisions’ in employment contracts is a useful way of incentivising managers to work hard to generate good performance. In this PhD project, the candidate will examine the nature of the association between bank transparency and variations in the enforceability of non-competition agreements in employment contracts across different US states.

Supervisor: A/Prof. Shams Pathan
Contact: m.pathan@curtin.edu.au

Managerial incentives, non-compete provisions and bank liquidity creation

An important service banks provide for the economy is liquidity creation. Banks create liquidity by financing relatively long-term illiquid assets with relatively short-term liquid liabilities. This necessarily involves liquidity risk, with the possibility of bank run and eventually an instable financial system. In this project, the PhD candidate will investigate the extent to which, and how, managerial incentives, embedded in their pay contracts, are associated with bank liquidity creation. The project will also assess whether managers of banks in states with higher enforceability of non-compete provisions agreements are more likely to reduce liquidity creation (liquidity risk).

Supervisor: A/Prof. Shams Pathan
Contact: m.pathan@curtin.edu.au

Employee Rights and Firm Performance

Companies worldwide underpay their employees. Such blue-chip companies also include Australian firms such as Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, Bunnings and Woolworths and such amounts add up to millions of dollars. Although investors may have concerns if firms spend too much money towards social causes such workforce/employee wellbeing, anecdotal evidence suggests that overseas companies such as Costco and Microsoft, who spend considerable money on workforce and employee wellbeing, ultimately have higher economic performance. This study empirically examines the top 300 ASX firms for the period of 2010-2020 to determine whether firms who look after their employees also have higher profitability and share returns and other markers of economic performance.

Supervisor: A/Prof. Nigar Sultana
Contact: n.sultana@curtin.edu.au

Climate Change and the World of Business

Addressing climate change challenges remains one of the greatest obstacles in the coming century. Challenges include greenhouse gas emissions, new low-carbon solutions, adopting carbon efficiency technologies, food and water security. Academics can partner with government/businesses to develop climate strategies adaptable to circumstances of companies. Disclosures of all firms in the Connect4 Annual Reports Collection and the National Climate Data Centre will be analysed. The impact of these disclosures and weather-related data on key corporate outcomes including (1) capital and cost structures (2) cash holdings and (3) dividend policy will be investigated with outcomes informing regulators, stakeholders and firms.

Supervisor: A/Prof. Nigar Sultana
Contact: n.sultana@curtin.edu.au

The sustainable development of tourism in Australia and around the world

Navigating through crisis: Strategies, Dynamics and Resilience of Tourism and Hospitality Businesses Adopting Digital Technologies

The outbreak of COVID-19 has made many existing tourism and hospitality business models no longer viable. This research project aims to understand the experience of tourism and hospitality businesses that have innovatively adopted digital technologies in times of crisis, such as economic downturns, natural disasters and the recent COVID-19 outbreak. More specifically, this research aims to identify the barriers tourism and hospitality businesses have faced, the strategies they have used to overcome these barriers and their resilience in adopting digital technologies.

Supervisor: Dr Mingming Cheng
Contact: mingming.cheng@curtin.edu.au

Licence to obfuscate: Consumer hypocrisy in sustainable tourism in a post-truth era

As societal pressures to comply with sustainability and social responsibility are mounting, there is an increasing need to differentiate between corporations’ talk and their substantive practices. ‘Hypocrisy’ denotes such an inconsistency between talking and acting. More specifically, ‘greenwashing’ denounces corporate practices of misleading consumers by selectively revealing some (minor) initiatives to divert attention from poor overall sustainability performance. Although research on corporate hypocrisy is scant, there are mixed results regarding consumer reactions to greenwashing practices. This project aims to analyse why and when consumers become willing accomplices of some tourism providers’ hypocritical sustainability and social responsibility communication.

Supervisor: Dr Michael Volgger
Contact: michael.volgger@curtin.edu.au

Event and festival life cycles in the age of COVID

Special events and festivals can experience a range of different trajectories depending on their aims, resources (funding, volunteers), governance, location, and external factors such as weather. From 2020 onwards special events and festivals globally have been severely impacted by COVID restrictions, which have led to cancellations, postponements and alternative arrangements frequently using online media. The project will map a series of events temporally from the beginning of the pandemic across a range of locations to identify patterns within the alternative and recovery plans developed by event managers, extending our knowledge of event life cycles.

Supervisor: Prof. Kirsten Holmes
Contact: k.holmes@cbs.curtin.edu.au

Blockchain and digital disruption

Technologies, supply chains and responsible digitalization

The current state-of-the-art suggests that firms and Supply Chains (SCs) invest in I4.0 technologies to exploit financial incentives linked to government policies to improve operational performance and increase margins, while Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) remains a second-order target. Therefore, this research project seeks to create knowledge and theory on how SCs can carry out responsible digitalization by implementing I4.0 technologies. To pursue this target, this project uses Operations Research (e.g., game theory) and Data Science (e.g., machine-learning) tools, respectively.

Supervisor: Dr Amir Hossein Ansaripoor
Contact: amir.ansaripoor@curtin.edu.au

Blockchains, supply chains and digital transformation

Blockchain technologies have become very popular in recent years thanks to their ability to generate trustable, transparent, and secure transactions while granting high saving costs due to the absence of intermediaries. Therefore, Supply Chains (SCs) are looking forward to implementing blockchains to pursue digital transformation and mitigate all associated business risks. By using Operations Research and Data Science techniques such as game theory, optimal control theory and machine learning, the research project’s output will be capturing the most relevant aspects of blockchain technologies when applied to SCs and deriving managerial intuitions and insights into how to achieve digital transformation.

Supervisor: Dr Amir Hossein Ansaripoor
Contact: amir.ansaripoor@curtin.edu.au

Forensic on the Truth behind Sustainable Practices

Global Value Chains experienced significant global challenges but also an increase of prevalence of ‘questionable’ business behaviours, revealed by enhanced analytics in digital ecosystems. The increasing efforts to achieve sustainable objectives through grandiose strategic statements is mitigated by gaps in sustainability practices. The purpose of this research is the identification and long-term prevention of fraud, deception or dishonesty impacting sustainability. The challenge of the project, especially regarding the deception, is the lack of availability of endogenous data and, thus, the need to deduce cases from only exogenous data; using advanced soft-computing methods (machine learning, artificial intelligence), optimisation, and simulation to understand the data and extrapolate an increased potential of non-sustainable practices.

Supervisor: Dr Torsten Reiners
Contact: torsten.reiners@curtin.edu.au


Innovation in higher education

Development of Entrepreneurial Purpose and Aspiration Among University Graduates

Within the university sector, entrepreneurship is a growing business discipline with recognition that entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial skills/mindset are a valuable resource for start-ups, SMEs and large organisations within the economy. However, how universities structure and deliver entrepreneurship programs/courses to maximise positive student outcomes and intention to engage in entrepreneurial activities requires further investigation. Curtin University is an active partner in the Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students’ Survey (GUESSS), a global initiative to investigate this topic. Sampling within the dataset permits investigation of nascent/early-stage entrepreneurs and members of family businesses examining the impact of numerous factors driving student entrepreneurial intention.

Supervisor: A/Prof. Subra Ananthram
Contact: s.ananthram@curtin.edu.au