Deans' Research Awards 2020:
Congratulations to our winners

The Deans’ Research Awards aims to recognise and reward excellence in research, research engagement and partnerships, research in business education, and research training activities in the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) and Melbourne Business School (MBS).

Despite the challenges presented this year, our Faculty has  continued to produce world-class research, developing solutions to real-world problems and creating opportunities for engagement and partnerships outside the University.

The Deans’ Awards recognise outstanding, engaged and impactful research outcomes. The depth of talent and research excellence illustrates the truly exceptional research performance of the awardees.

"The Awards signal internally and externally what the Faculty stands for, and enhance international recognition of the Faculty’s research strengths," Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics, Professor Paul Kofman has announced.

"As the number-one-ranked Faculty of Business & Economics in Australia, it is our Faculty’s purpose to address real-life business and economic challenges that continue to threaten long-term prosperity and fairness. Many of these challenges have been amplified and exacerbated by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is pleasing to observe so much COVID-relevant research over the past year."

This year, 6 awards were presented to the following outstanding individuals.

Faculty of Business and Economics Lifetime Award for Exceptional Distinction in Research

This prestigious prize goes to Professor Margaret Abernethy (Accounting) for her exceptional contribution to the research standing of the Faculty.

Prof Abernethy has been awarded this prize for her demonstrated consistent and sustained research leadership while also maintaining a strong international standing. A leading researcher in cost accounting, budgeting, performance management and corporate governance, she has received in excess of $3 million in competitive research grants, provided expert advice to both the public and private sector, as well as serving on a number of boards.

"I am delighted to receive this award as it is a tribute to the many great colleagues and doctoral students with whom I have worked with over the years.  I’d like to thank the Faculty and the Department for supporting my research," says Prof Margaret Abernethy.

Prof Abernethy is also a former Dean of the Faculty. In 2008, she was awarded the Telstra Business Woman of the Year (Government and Community) for her outstanding contribution to higher education, and was inducted to the Australian Accounting Hall of Fame in 2018.

Professor Abernethy is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Scienceholds the Sir Douglas Copland Chair of Commerce, Chair of Managerial Accounting and is Director of the Melbourne Centre for Corporate Governance and Regulation (MCCGR).

Prize for Exceptional Distinction in Research: Research Excellence (Level A-C)

Dr Lusheng Shao (Management and Marketing) has been awarded the 2020 prize for demonstrating exceptional distinction in research over two years or more. Dr Shao's work is highlighted in the paper 'Incentive compatible in dominant strategies mechanism design for assembly systems' published in Production and Operations Management. 28(2): 479-496 (Li, Z., Ryan, J., Shao, L., & Sun, D. (2019)).

His expertise lies in competition in supply chains, contract and incentives, and more recently, sustainable operations. "Assembly production systems are prevalent in many industries, in which assemblers often outsource production of components to external suppliers," Dr Shao explains.

"This paper proposes an easy-to-implement and nearly optimal procurement mechanism for assemblers. It is demonstrated that this mechanism significantly outperforms the existing mechanisms used in practice."

On receiving the award, Dr Shao says, "I am passionate about using mathematics to understand how businesses operate, and based on this, develop managerial insights to help businesses make better decisions. I love research because it allows me to find solutions to an unresolved problem and I enjoy being the first one to know something new."

Dr Shao is a senior lecturer of Operations Management, and the Area Head of the Operations Management group. He is also an academic fellow in Melbourne Business School's Center for Business Analytics and the Faculty's Center for Asian Business and Economics.

Prize for Exceptional Distinction in Research: Research Excellence (Level D-E)

This prize goes to Professor Simon Loertscher from the Department of Economics. He is the Director for the Centre for Market Design. His research expertise lies in Industrial Organisation, Mechanism Design and Political Economics.

In 2019, Prof Loertscher published seven papers and demonstrated a clear success in obtaining external competitive research grants, in top journals, including Journal of Political Economy, Theoretical Economics, the Journal of Economic Theory, and American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

This exceptional distinction in impactful research in the very top journals has resulted in more than sixty Google scholar citations, a successful ARC Discovery Grant, invited keynote lectures, seminars and webinars and invited talks at competition authorities and conferences around the globe.

"In the increasingly competitive, aspiring and inspiring research environment of FBE, it is a great honour to be the recipient of the Deans’ Award," says Prof Loertscher.

Prize for Exceptional Distinction in Research: Research Training

Associate Professor Helen Hu has been awarded the Prize for Exceptional Distinction in Research: Research Training. This prize is awarded to  an academic who has successfully supervised a PhD student to completion in 2019. The exceptional distinction will be demonstrated by the successful supervision and placement of the PhD student.  A/Prof Hu's PhD student was Dr Renfei Gao, who graduated last year and has been awarded the 2020 Williams Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis by the Faculty. He is now a Presidential Fellow at the University of Manchester.

A/Prof Hu specialises in corporate governance with focuses on board of directors, ownership structure, initial public offerings, and internationalisation of Asian firms. She is the Director of the Centre for Asian Business and Economics (CABE) in the University of Melbourne.

In response to receiving this award, she tells us, "It is my great honour to receive this award. It is a recognition not only for me but for my student and the supervisory team."

Exceptional Distinction in Research Engagement and Partnerships (Level A-C)

The Level A-C Award in this category has gone to Dr Niharika Garud (Management and Marketing), for her team application with Dr Victor Sojo (also Management and & Marketing) and Prof Simon Bell (Director, Melbourne School of Professional and Continuing Education). Their project, Engagement of Workforce and Patient Outcomes, was conducted in collaboration with Safer Care Victoria, VMIA and VPSC, State Government of Victoria. The team's final report is entitled, 'An Analysis of Engagement of Workforce and Health Service Outcomes in Victoria'.

Dr Garud's interests for research, engagement and industry collaborations lie in the areas of technology and innovation management and organisational psychology.

"Engaging with industry and policymakers is such a rewarding way to see one’s research in action. Industry engagement provides the opportunities to directly contribute to practice and to create real-world impact," Dr Garud tells us.

"As a researcher passionate about leadership, innovation, and management of people and performance in healthcare sector, an engagement such as this one provided us ability to offer evidence-based recommendations to healthcare systems in this area, as well as allowed us to develop meaningful relationships with state government entities and policymakers."

"Thank you very much for this award," she says. "I am truly honoured to receive it. This was really a great team effort and I am grateful for this recognition for our team."

Exceptional Distinction in Research Engagement and Partnerships (Level D-E)

Professor Guyonne Kalb (Melbourne Institute)and her  team comprising Prof Lisa Cameron, A/Prof Nico Herault, Dr Julie Moschion, Dr Yi-Ping Tseng, Dr Ferdi Botha, Dr Diana Contreras Suarez, Dr Jordy Meekes (all Melbourne Institute) and Prof Jeff Borland (Economics), are the winners for this prize.

Prof Kalb is a Professorial Fellow, Senior Research Manager and co-Coordinator of the Labour Markets and Employment Program in the Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research at the University of Melbourne.

"As economists, we have the skills to translate large amounts of unintelligible quantitative data into coherent records of events," Prof Kalb says of her work.

"Research engagement ensures that these skills are put to high-value practical use, such as turning available administrative data into useful insights regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of policies. Better outcomes for the policies’ target groups hopefully follow."

"We have engaged with the New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice to develop a rigorous evaluation framework for and evaluation of Future Directions, a large social housing reform. A partnership with consultancy firms specialised in qualitative research perfectly complements the expertise of our FBE team."

Professor Kalb is also involved in the evaluation of the Try, Test and Learn Fund for the Department of Social Services. These projects have led/are leading to numerous (government) reports.

Sincere congratulations to the awardees. Your research is exceptional!

- Prof Paul Kofman