Former PhD students

University of Melbourne

Heather Round

Organisational Creativity

Understanding creativity and innovation has become increasingly important for organisations operating in a dynamic and increasingly competitive environment.

Much of the research to date has adopted a positivist approach, focusing on the products of the creative process as well as measuring factors that influence these products. To complement this understanding of organisational creativity, this study aims to explore organisational creativity and innovation from a social constructionist perspective.

The case study investigation uses direct observations, document analysis and interviews how creativity is defined, the social process of producing a creative artefact and the unintended consequences of this process.

Muhammad Nadeem Dogar

Leadership Change Management Approaches in Social Sector Organisations in Pakistan

The aim of this research is to study leadership change management approaches in the social sector of Pakistan, including to identify the nature of the change management, to assess and analyse the leadership strategy for managing the change, and to assess the impact of the leadership of the change management on the various stakeholders involved.

A qualitative study of three case studies will be conducted in order to identify insights (strengths and weaknesses, success stories and failures, facilitation and exploitation of human capital) into change management practices.

Interviews will be conducted with leaders to find out relevant information about their change management approach and focused group discussion will be conducted to engage other team members to find out their concerns, while interviews will be conducted with key stakeholders. The different cases will then be subjected to comparative analysis to identify factors related to different leadership success and failures.

Dean Pierides

Institutions, Organisations and Expertise in the Field of Emergency Management

On Saturday, February 7,  many people died and many more suffered across the Australian state of Victoria as sweltering weather and bushfires overwhelmed the land and its inhabitants.

Dean Pierides is researching how emergencies such as this one pose organisational problems for management, those attempting to institutionalise, resist or evade the project of managing society and nature, as well as   those producing knowledge about such management.

This study assembles an institutional analysis of the rise and legitimacy of emergency management as a response to disaster, a critique of this analysis as an account of organisation, and makes a case for the centrality of organisation studies and management in policy interventions that seek to reduce vulnerabilities.

Shelley Domberger

The Social Construction of Career: A Comparative Case Study

The definition of a career has been a source of continuous debate within the careers literature. Researchers have often assumed that career is synonymous with advancement in an organisational hierarchy. More recently, it has been suggested that a career can encompass a more varied set of work experiences, including those which occur outside organisations.

Shelley Domberger's thesis will explore how the concept of career comes to take on such meanings. Particularly, the research will compare how two occupational groups – life coaches and counselling psychologists – socially construct the meaning of career. It will also explore how individuals within these two groups create a story of their own career, and to what extent they must negotiate with prevalent meanings of career in the telling of this story.

Lauren Gurrieri

The Social Construction of Cool: Implications for Organisations and Consumers

Cool has become one of the dominant ideologies of contemporary consumer capitalism and the favoured language of popular and consumer culture. However despite its pervasiveness, cool remains an elusive concept.

Based on a conceptualisation of cool as a social construct, established and maintained in part by language, this thesis aims to understand how meanings of cool can be constructed in organisational and consumption discourses.

The particular actors that are the focus of this research are cool-hunting agencies, a new type of marketing organisation that purports to be able to interpret youth and consumer culture and use this knowledge to construct a brand as being cool, the organisational clients that employ them and the consumers who are the focus of their efforts.

The research has two primary aims - to integrate the wide and fragmented literatures on cool, so as to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the topic, and to overcome the gap between the growing recognition of the importance of cool for practitioners and the limited number of academic studies on the topic.

Dinuka Wijetunga

The Social Construction of Technology in a Consumer Culture

Current literature on the social construction of technology is predominantly focused on processes that are assumed to be moving towards the stabilization of an artefact with regard to its meaning and functions.

In this research, it is argued that a technology could also develop through processes that perpetuate interpretative flexibility, where the artefact never really stabilizes. It is also argued that this phenomenon could be prominently visible in the context of a consumer culture, where the market and consumption plays a dominant role in social processes.

The symbolic aspects of consumption characteristic of a consumer culture provide many avenues to increase the interpretative flexibility of an artefact. Technological products in particular have associated connotations of novelty and progress that support the perpetuation of interpretative flexibility. Both marketing and consumption contribute to this meaning creation. Hence, this research will study the dynamics between marketing and consumption in relation to the social construction of mobile telephones.

Belinda Allen

Examining the Identity Processes of Professsionals who are Temps: Behavioural and Attitudinal Implications for Work and Careers

Belinda Allen's PhD research examines how temporary employment affects the professional identity, performance, affective reactions and careers of individuals.

Utilising a role identity framework, the primary goal of the research is to integrate the literature on employment status and role identity to achieve a more comprehensive analysis and understanding of temporary workers' perceptions and experiences of their daily work practice.

The research also seeks to explore the subjective process of sense-making which leads to individual constructions of identity and career, with specific attention being given to exploring the notion of a 'boundaryless' career.

It is hoped that ultimately results of the research will be used to generate theories that better reflect the contemporary work experiences of individuals, in particular those individuals who are employed on a temporary basis.

Steve Jaynes

A Discursive Approach to Strategic Change

This study develops a discourse approach to examine how processes of change are shaped and effected in strategy. This approach is based on a model of change that is designed to investigate how discourses construct an organisational 'reality' and produce identities and subject positions for employees.

This model is applied to study a financial services organisation, in which the acceptance, appropriation and rejection of strategy discourse is explored in the context of a strategic change program. These discursive processes are viewed as central to the enactment of change.

The development of a discursive approach is argued to bring explanatory value and critical insight to the study of strategic change in organisations, which is not provided by the mainstream approaches. The contribution that this approach promises lies in its study of language to explore how discourses pervade and inform the lives and experiences of people in organisations, in ways that are often taken for granted.

Daniel Nyberg

Organisational Culture as Practices

Understanding organisational culture has become increasingly important for organisations after recent corporate scandals and the entrance of the term into corporate law. The dominant perspectives on organisational culture are unable to satisfactorily explain the production and reproduction of organisational culture.

This research aims to respond to these weaknesses by researching organisational culture as practices. This shifts the focus from stable and static symbols to fluid and dynamic nexuses of actions.

The case study investigation uses direct observations, document analysis and interviews to explore how organisational culture processes are produced and maintained over time.

Zelinna Pablo

Towards a Power-Based Interpretation of ICT in Organisations
This study draws from social constructionism from a critical perspective to argue that information and communications technology (ICT) in organisations is not predominantly a material phenomenon, but is largely subjectively interpreted and appropriated through emergent patterns of use that are underpinned by socially negotiated meanings.

It is also argued that ICT in organisations is continuously socially constructed, such that the dichotomy between design and implementation is analytical rather than ontological, that resulting interpretations are heterogenous and conflicting (albeit coexisting) rather than consensual, and that such interpretations are (re)created based on power dynamics among different stakeholders.

It is proposed that the study be grounded through an ethnographic study of specific areas of the Development Gateway, which is a web-based, knowledge-intensive virtual organisation enmeshed in a complex network of stakeholder relationships.

Primo Garcia

Shifting Organisational Identities in a University: A Discursive Perspective

The mainstream literature has portrayed organisational identity in functionalist terms, despite claims of identity being social. It is argued that the theoretical and empirical depictions of organisational identity are problematic as they marginalize the social construction processes involved in organisational identity construction and organisational identification processes.

In this way, they ignore the fragmentation, instability, and complexity of organisational identity, as well as the role of power in identity construction.

To address these problems, this research will adopt discourse analysis to investigate the nature of organisational identities and identifications in a university setting, unpack the relationship between individual and organisational identities, and identify the material practices that arise from the identity construction and identification processes.

Susan Ainsworth

Department of Management & Marketing, University of Melbourne

Susan Ainsworth rejoined the University Melbourne after five years in in the School of Business at the University of Sydney.

Her PhD, awarded in June 2004, examined the way in which the identity of the 'older worker' is constructed through the use of a wide range of discourse analytic techniques to the texts of a royal commission.

She has published a number of papers from her thesis in leading journals, including Gender Work & Organization, Critical Discourse Studies, Discourse and Communication, Human Relations and Organization.

Nuzhat Lotia

Department of Management & Marketing, University of Melbourne

Nuzhat Lotia's research examines the learning process within collaborations from a critical perspective and attempts to explore the implications of power for the process of learning.

The central argument is that the processes of collaboration and learning within collaborations are inherently influenced by dynamics of power that result as a consequence of the interactions among collaborating organisations.

Her research presents a theoretical basis for considering the impact of power on the learning process at the collaboration level and set forth some propositions that provide an agenda for future research.

Peter Fleming

Cass Business School, City University, London

Peter Fleming completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2004, being awarded the Chancellors Award for Excellence for his PhD thesis.

Before joining the Judge Institute, Peter held academic positions at the University of Otago (New Zealand) and the University of Melbourne (Australia).

His research interests include the historical, economic and cultural dimensions of contemporary work patterns, with a special emphasis on the critical analysis of organisational politics, conflict and democracy.

Andre Spicer

Cass Business School, City University London

Andre Spicer is a professor in organisational behaviour at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom after gaining his PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2004.

His research examines the rise and contestation of globalisation discourse in Australia's largest public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and he has published in Organization, Journal of Management Studies, Human Relations, Ephemera and Philosophy and Management.

The main focus of his research is examining organisations as spaces of political movement and struggle. This involves a number of research projects including the developing a 'post Foucauldian' theory of power and resistance, examining the mobilisation of discourse during port disputes, charting the organisation of new social movements, and looking at the struggle around organisational space.

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University of Sydney

Max Baker

Enabling Strategic CSR with the Use of Accounting

Max’s thesis explores the role of accounting in enabling Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) within a large packaging company.

This exploration takes on three different perspectives:  functional, critical, and a post-modern perspective. In utilising a functional view, the research explores how this case study organisation uses new forms of accounting to promote CSR.

These new forms of accounting include performance metrics, operating procedures and strategy documents, which enable a set of business initiatives that were both socially responsible and profitable.

In utilising a critical view, the research then explores the tensions in the organisation between these new forms of accounting and more traditional uses of accounting, which focus strictly on financial performance.

The aim of this critical view is to see whether these new forms of accounting provide – or fail to provide – a level of accountability to key stakeholders. Lastly, Max uses a post-modern view to explore the subjective effects of CSR as it is implemented through these new forms of accounting. This third perspective explores how CSR and these new forms of accounting can change the way individuals identify with their organisation’s financial goals.

Janine Holgate

Governance Arrangements for Enterprise Information Protection: An Australian Critical Infrastructure Perspective

The protection of corporate information assets within rapidly changing business, regulatory and technical environments presents a considerable challenge to organisations of all kinds.

This work provides an interdisciplinary examination and analyses of the theoretical contributions to information protection governance (IPG) made in different disciplinary domains and examines the institutionalisation of IPG in organisations.

Susan V. Keyes-Pearce

IT Value Management in Leading Firms: The Fit Between Theory and Practice (Awarded the 2006 ACPHIS Information Systems PhD Medal)

This research addresses the perpetual problem raised by many firms of how to improve management of value from information technology (IT), particularly from strategic IT-enabled initiatives.

The research specifically addresses the question of how firms leading in B2B (business-to-business) e-business can improve the management of value from IT. It focuses on value identification, creation and capture from strategic IT-enabled business initiatives such as e-business.

Sarah Kim

Post Merger Integration in Professional Service Firms

This doctoral research relates to post-merger integration in professional service firms. Over the past decade, there has been a wave of mergers and acquisitions  across a number of industries. However, the relevant literature suggests that almost two-thirds of all merger deals fail to deliver their intended benefits.

A key theme of the existing literature is that the way in which the integration process is managed can have a significant impact on the relative success of merger and acquisitions.

The object of this thesis is to investigate the role that post-merger integration phase plays in determining merger outcomes in professional service firms - specifically accounting and consulting firms- and examine the factors associated directly or indirectly with the integration that impact on overall merger success.

It is expected that this study will provide insights into post-merger integration process both in the professional service firms and more generally.

Sebastian Kinne

Discourse and the Construction of Corporate Culture: Professional Service Firm Amalgamations

This thesis explores the role that discourse plays in the social construction of corporate cultural change.

Professional Service Firm Amalgamations have been chosen as the context for the study for two reasons.

Firstly, Professional Service Firms, due to their unique features and characteristics are believed to exhibit 'strong cultures' and secondly, organisational amalgamations are seen as among the most intense moments of organisational/cultural change.

A distinct analytical focus on language and how social realities like culture are brought to life through its use is believed to enhance our understanding, not only of organisational cultural change processes during Professional Service Firm Amalgamations, but may also yield insights that could contribute to organisation culture literature more generally.

Jane Gyung-Sook Lee

The Experiences of Immigrant Female Korean Workers in the Australian Labour Market: A Narrative Analysis

This research explores the labour market experiences of Korean migrant women in Australia, aiming to hear their otherwise unheard accounts.

Through discourse and narrative analysis of interviews with 30 women in their native language, the research both resists and embellishes existing conceptions of barriers to labour market participation for Asian migrant women.

Existing research suggests two main barriers to the Australian labour market for these women: English language skills and cultural and historical notions of identity and femininity.

The research investigates to what degree these two barriers are a discernable external reality, limiting and shaping the behaviour of Korean migrant women in Australia.

It also aims to hear their individual stories and interpretive realities (perceptions) to allow for alternative conceptualisations of the Australian labour market.

Helena Liu

Leadership through Crisis

Since August 2008, a 'global financial crisis' discourse has thrown economies into heightened states of anxiety and uncertainty.

One consequence of this has been that business leaders in the banking sector in particular have experienced increased media attention, and in some cases, shifts in how they are portrayed.

This research examines the ways in which leadership images of CEOs in the Australian banking sector are constructed in the print media before and after the financial crisis.

In recognising that media discourse increasingly employs visual devices in addition to the written text to convey meaning, the analysis of media texts will encompass the visual elements of layout design and photography in its interpretation of leadership image portrayal.

Sujatha Rao

The impact of Professional Contractual Work on Knowledge Management Practices within Organisations

This research seeks to explore the knowledge sharing behaviours of professionals employed as contractors within organisations.

In the contemporary workplace there is an increasing reliance on knowledge workers, while at the same time there is an increased prevalence of non-standard employment practices including contract work, particularly among professionals.

This research aims to integrate the literature on professional work, transient employment and knowledge management, by determining the conditions under which organisations can capture and utilise the knowledge of professional contractors and the conditions under which professional contractors contribute to the knowledge of the organisation.

It is expected that the study will contribute to a better understanding of the changing nature of employment and knowledge management practices of professionals within organisations.

Fanny Salignac

Reconciling Ethical and Profit-seeking Behaviour? A Discourse Analysis of the Fair Trade Movement

Fairtrade can be understood in terms of its primary aim of reducing the gap between rich and poor countries via the creation of an alternative market that provides fairer price and trading conditions for third world producers.

In both the academic and popular press, the fair trade phenomenon has been dominated by the debate between supporters and critics.

Those against argue that nothing could be more fair than free trade, and that fairness is not a characteristic that prices convey.

On the other hand, the advocates of fair trade focus on the idea of justice and the moral righteousness of the alternative market, aiming at a socially responsible and sustainable world trade.

This research goes beyond the debate between free and fair trade by examining fair trade as a socially constructed discourse. In particular, it focuses on how retailers that participate in the fair trade movement construct their behaviour as fair using comparative case studies.

Tony Stapledon

Offices as Tools for Organisational Sustainability

This cross-disciplinary doctoral research explores links between organisational sustainability and office-based working environments.

It investigates key areas of concern to directors and managers seeking competitive advantage through the development of sustainability as an organisational competency and an intangible asset, including organisational purpose, culture, identity and image, change, learning and innovation and corporate social responsibility.

The research is centred on a case study of the world's leading firm in corporate sustainability, examining its search for sustainability and how it is using a major new office co-location project to enhance those characteristics common to sustainable firms.

Its approach is compared and contrasted with that of other high rating firms within Australia, using data derived from about 40 semi-structured interviews with employees at executive and senior management levels and with the firms' design and workplace consultants, and from various publications of and about the firms.

Paul Scifleet

Making Sense of the Digital Content Object: A Common Denominator for Discourse

Paul's research focuses on the phenomena of changing human communication that is present in the widespread re-engineering of documents, and categorisation of digital content that is occurring within many different types of organisations, as they adapt to the management of information resources that are primarily digital in form.

The study investigates the challenges organisations face in digital document design and the impact that underlying architectures for semantic information systems are having on information management in practice.

Jeaney Yip

Branded Religion: the Discursive Construction of a Mega-Church's Corporate Identity through Artefacts and Performance

Jeaney's thesis explores the corporate identity construction process of a mega-church through its artefacts, practice and performance.

Mega-churches are a secularised form of religious organisation which, in highly developed societies, is often perceived to be a product of modernity.

This has led to the commodification of religion but the process of just how religion becomes a branded product which is consumed remains unclear.

This doctoral research explores how churches, as fluid organisations, are required to construct a marketable and polysemic corporate identity amidst competition from alternative spiritual providers and declining religious trends.

Using discourse analysis with a focus on language and semiotics, the thesis demonstrates how contemporary church artefacts such as music are both culturally and organisationally constructed. In other words, how theology, secular and organisational discourses are reconciled in a church brand.

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