Research Impact

The Program’s research has resulted in substantial end-user impacts. The following examples showcase this research impact and engagement:

The future of work and workers

The Work/Industry Futures Research Program made a submission to the Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers which was authored by Abby Cathcart, Deanna Grant-Smith, Melinda Laundon, Robyn Mayes, Paula McDonald, Katherine Moore and Penny Williams. The submission spanned a number of research areas relevant to the Inquiry’s terms of reference including the characteristics, motivations and employment circumstances of digital platform work; appropriate boundaries of social media conduct in relation to work and the employment relationship; labour market policies which lead to demand side job creation which supports Australian youth to find meaningful and secure employment; exploitative unpaid work and internship arrangements; best practice FIFO policies which limit maximum work cycles; and persistent and pervasive gender inequality.

Program members were subsequently invited to give evidence at a public hearing at Parliament House, Brisbane, in January 2018. The submission heavily informed the inquiry recommendations, being cited 19 times in the Committee’s inquiry report.

Communication and CSR

Associate Professor Jennifer Bartlett’s research on communication and CSR has impacted on practitioners and professional services. The wave of corporate scandals and collapses in the 1990s led to a call for organisations to be more accountable for their social and environmental impacts. The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement subsequently emerged as a mechanism for organisations to manage perceptions of their broader societal impacts. This represented a significant financial and reputational investment in developing and articulating the practices which would represent ‘social responsibility’, implementing practices in organisations, reporting on them, and thereby managing the perceived ongoing financial risks to the value of the firm.

Jennifer’s central theoretical work has involved a longitudinal media and organisational document analysis of shifting narratives around CSR and the adoption of new organisational practices to deal with stakeholder concerns. Jennifer co-edited The Handbook of Communication and CSR, where insights from global scholars were brought together to articulate how organisations are defining practice and the challenges they face.

The Handbook has been voted 6 out of 25 most influential contributions to the practice of corporate communication executives. Jennifer have been invited to act as Advisor to the development of CSR training for Governance Institute of Australia, the leading provider of education for company secretaries in listed companies in Australia.

Workplace sexual harassment: Causes, consequences and solutions

Paula McDonald’s research into workplace sexual harassment has had significant ongoing social and economic impact; directly informing Australian and international government and organisational policies, practices, reviews and national workplace sexual harassment awareness and response strategies.

The research directly shaped the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s comprehensive study of sexual harassment and predatory behavior in Victoria Police; problems that were considered significant and damaging in the organization. The Commission convened an expert panel, inviting Paula to be the academic member. Paula’s research substantially and directly informed the research design and data collection instruments deployed for the Review, including the world’s largest survey of sexual harassment in a policing environment, with more than 5,000 staff respondents. Following the Victoria Police review, other public sector agencies have adopted the methodology informed by McDonald’s research. These include the Victorian Public Service’s methodology for a sexual harassment module in the government-wide People Matters survey (60,000 respondents each year); the SA Equal Opportunity Commission’s review of the South Australia Police; the Australian Federal Police gender diversity and inclusion review; and the VEOHRC equity and diversity review of the Country Fire Authority. Reviews into sexual harassment in Australian Universities and at Sydney University residential colleges also drew on McDonald’s research.

The research has increased organisational understandings of sexual harassment by presenting her research by invitation to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2016; Washington DC); Qld Corrective Services (2018); Qld Police, Fire and Emergency Services (2016); Australasian College of Sport Physicians (2016); Qld Police Crime Command Unit (2016); Australian National Committee for UN Women (2015); St George and Westpac Banking Group (2013); Australian Senior Human Resource Roundtable, (2011, 2012); and Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioners (2012).

Paula’s research has increased public understanding and awareness of workplace sexual harassment through extensive invited media engagement, including informing the focus of a 2015 SBS Insight Program. The research has been reported in highly watched television programs such as The Project; in major newspapers such as The Financial Review and The Washington Post and in influential international blogs such as the Huffington Post, London School of Economics Business Review and US Work in Progress. McDonald has been commissioned to write three articles on sexual harassment for The Conversation with over 10,000 reads.

The impact of the UK Professional Standards Framework on educators

Abby Cathcart’s work on professional recognition in Australiasia was presented to Advance Higher Education at a network of Australian Higher Education accreditors in September 2018. The discussion paper considered the application of Australian Higher Education Policy to educators working in Australian and New Zealand in the context of the casualisation of academic workforces, an increase in third-space professional educators, the development of enabling and foundation pathways to higher education, and diverse forms of continuing professional development.

Abby’s research was used to shape the new Australian Higher Education Accreditation Policy for 2018-19 and she was invted to lead a consultation with Australian and New Zealand Universities to further explore policy implications of Australasia.

Networked government arrangements for climate change adaptation

Deanna Grant-Smith’s research with colleagues from Griffith University and RMIT University on networked governanace arrangements for climate change adapation and disaster management featured in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report, Global Warming of 1.5 degrees celcius. This report considers the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Deanna’s research was cited 12 times in the report, primarily in relation to strengthening and implementing the global response to climate change.

The employability of Australian youth

Katherine Moore and Paula McDonald’s research into the employability of Australian youth has informed future service design. The research identified critical support strategies and individual characteristics that promote job retention in young job seekers. This research informed the Sticking Together project by SYC Ltd, which has now received funding from the Victorian, Queensland and New South Wales governments to roll out the job coaching service through jobactive employment contracts.

The service will assist young job seekers to gain and maintain sustainable employment, making a positive social and economic impact on the lives of individual job seekers as well as broader youth employment outcomes.

Not just part time, not just women: Challenging the myths of flexible work

Abby Cathcart and Paula McDonald’s innovative research which challenges myths surrounding flexible work has had wide and varied impact on policy development, public debate and organisational practices. Direct beneficiaries of the research include a large finance sector organisation, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and several government inquiries. Policy impact has been demonstrated through the use of research findings in various policy development round-tables and government inquiries, including in the Productivity Commission’s Workplace Relations Inquiry Report.

The research has shaped training and employment practices in finance, community and defence organisations. The findings culminated in 3 major industry reports and seminars to over 50 finance industry managers and more than 100 senior ADF personnel (Canberra, Oct 2014).

The research has also generated interest and debate beyond academia, with research findings being disseminated via public and industry forums, media articles and interviews, and a chapter in a popular book. The underpinning research was conducted in the QUT Business School, primarily through an Australian Research Council funded Discovery project, Customising work through manager-employee exchange (2010-12, with Assoc Prof Keith Townsend, Griffith University).