Research for Social Change at the centre of the Faculty

At the inaugural Business and Economics Dean’s Event Melbourne, more than 100 alumni gathered back on campus to hear from three of the Faculty’s leading academics about the impact of their work on society.

Deputy Dean Paul Jensen, Associate Professor in Accounting, Brad Potter, and Professor of Experimental Finance and Decision Neuroscience, Peter Bossaerts, all explained the social impact of their research in just six minutes and 40 seconds in the snappy style of Pecha Kucha – a Japanese style of presenting gaining popularity around the World.

The audience – made up of alumni from across the Faculty - were not disappointed.  Ewe Jin Tan, who graduated from his BCom in 2016, says the presentations were “engaging and thought provoking”.

They demonstrated the potential of the Faculty of Business and Economics to collaboratively impact society. The in-depth dialogue between the presenters and audience members during the ‘Q and A’ demonstrated the consistent quality of intellectual thinking present in the Faculty. Ewe Jin Tan, BCom 2016.

Here is a snapshot of what our academics had to say:

The Centre for Strategic Philanthropy and Fundraising for Social Good – Associate Professor Brad Potter

How do we extend the reach of Australia’s philanthropic community? This is the question at the core of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Strategic Philanthropy and Fundraising.

Australians have a long history of giving, but the number of charities and not-for-profits is growing every day. There is a need to build the capacity of these entities to attract donated funds and to stretch those dollars further than ever before. This creates a wonderful opportunity for the Faculty of Business and Economics.

Associate Professor Potter has identified an opportunity to better connect grant makers and grant seekers by building capacity across the sector. Recent research shows that a better alignment between parties, driven by a more informed approach on the part of businesses, can lead to a better understanding of the philanthropists beliefs and objectives. This greater alignment is key to enhancing the reach of the sector. The Centre for Strategic Philanthropy and Fundraising for Social Good will focus on these issues by building capacity across the sector.  Well designed research will help us to understand the steps that need to be taken and the challenges involved says A/Professor Potter.

Associate Professor Brad Potter networking with guests

The Centre for Brain, Mind and Markets – Professor Peter Bossaerts
'Has academic finance become irrelevant?' Professor Peter Bossaerts posed to guests in his opening statement.  There is no doubt that predicting stock markets is difficult and the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) receives much criticism. However, what do we use to replace CAPM? No one quite knows the answer to that question and so CAPM remains in place. The Centre for Brain, Mind and Markets hopes to provide that answer through stringent and methodical research.

Prof Bossaerts explained that the principles of finance cannot be studied by observing real-world financial markets, just like physics cannot be understood by studying historical weather data. One must start with simple experiments, where one has a chance to control things accurately if the principles one posits are right. Physics understood this hundreds of years ago, and by a methodic experimental approach, they eventually managed to generate enough knowledge to keep an Airbus 380 in the air. So it should be with finance.

The largest distinction between research in financial markets and research in physics is that in financial market research we are using historical data, but in physics we conduct experiments to extract our data. In order to understand and predict the financial markets we should be conducting experiments that allow us to develop original and predictive theories, just as Galileo used experimental methods to understand gravity. Through experiments being conducted at the Centre for the Brain, Mind and Markets, we can start to discover those underlying theories and principles at play in financial markets, knowledge backed by the same approach to data that allows us to construct a soaring A380.

1,000 Indigenous Business Leaders – Professor Paul Jensen
Our alumni, better than anyone, know the value of a University education to themselves, their family and in many cases, their wider community. It was therefore sobering to hear from Professor Paul Jensen that Indigenous students currently make up just 1.6 per cent of all domestic enrolments at Australian Universities. To properly reflect the proportion of Indigenous people in Australia this number should be 2.7 per cent.

The Faculty aims to try and address this disparity with its 1,000 Indigenous Business Leaders program launched earlier this year which seeks to inspire, nurture and develop 1,000 Indigenous business leaders over the next ten years.

Activities in the program will include the National Indigenous Business Summer School in January 2018, and setting up the ‘dreaming laboratory’ which will focus on incubating and accelerating Indigenous business ideas.  The Faculty is just at the start of this venture and is confident that with its fantastic business partners and support from the wider University, and our alumni community, it can reach its bold target.

Dean, Professor Paul Kofman networking with guests

After the formalities, the Dean and our speakers shared a drink with audience members, many of whom took the opportunity to delve further in to the nuances of the research that was presented and the expected impacts on both the University and the wider community.

This event was hosted by Professor Paul Kofman, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics, who encouraged guests to be advocates for this ground breaking research by sharing articles with their networks and feeding back their ideas and thoughts through the Alumni Relations Office. You can also donate online to support research.

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