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Our projects

Research Capability and Projects

Curtin University has excellent capability for research projects on Asian business systems focusing on the managers, organisations and institutions that comprise them.

Current Faculty Research Projects

The following list does not include all Asia-related research projects across Curtin University. However, it does provide a starting point for understanding the depth of expertise that exists for advancing the ABC’s research agenda.

Asian Regional Business System Integration

There is increasing attention paid to the integration of individual Asian countries into the global economy – especially China. The intra-regional integration of Asian economies, through increased international relations between business organisations and the institutions that support them, is less well researched. This topic is a key focus for ABC research on Asian business systems and the managers, organisations and institutions that comprise them.

Project leader: Professor Helen Calabu’s main areas of research include international trade policy in the primary (resource) sector, economic (CGE) modelling, competition policy and regulation in Asia-Pacific economies. In 2002, she was on secondment from Curtin, consulting with the Asian Development Bank in Manila. Professor Calabu was appointed as Macroeconomist Team Leader to oversee the operations of the Asia Recovery Information Centre of the ADB.

Evolving Asian Global Competitors and Leaders

Although US companies still dominate the ranks of the Global Fortune 500, Chinese companies are rapidly gaining a competitive edge, taking over 100 places. Japanese companies continue to fill over 50 places, followed by South Korea with 15 spots. This snap shot of growing Asian corporate competitiveness contrasts with Australia’s eight representatives on the Global Fortune 500, just edging out India with seven companies. More research is needed on the importance of multinational enterprise (MNE) investment and activity in fulfilling the promise of an integrated Asian Business System.

Project Leader: Professor Jiang Fuming is ranked number 1 in the world for research into China’s outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) and Chinese multinational enterprises (MNEs). He is well connected with industries in Australia (especially with the Chinese invested operations) and organizations in China.

The Emerging Asian Innovation Ecosystem

Asia has become the top regional destination for Fortune 1000 company R&D spending in 2015, according to PwC, with $166 billion or about 35% of the total worldwide. Asian governments and companies are also focusing more resources on research and development in an effort to innovate their economies into a strong global competitive position. China is, by far, the largest investor in R&D in Asia and the Pacific, spending over $140 billion (2005 PPP) in the year 2009. Japan followed with close to $127 billion (2005 PPP). For many other Asian countries, R&D spending is also increasing rapidly. A key question is how WA corporates, start-ups, universities etc access this burgeoning Asian R&D opportunity.

Project Leader: Professor Terziovski is the Dean, and Professor of Innovation at the Curtin Graduate School of Business. Prior to his academic career, he held several positions within the Rio Tinto Group in maintenance, production and project management over a period of 17 years. Professor Terziovski has consulted to a diverse group of companies both large and small, including Motorola, Dow Chemical, Ford Australia, PETRONAS in Malaysia.

Key Business Challenges for the Asian Savvy C-Suite

This project addresses the key environmental and business concerns and opportunities facing managers in doing business across Asia. A bi-annual survey of leading business practitioners is conducted in conjunction with major Asian business associations and chambers. The results point to ‘what is keeping Asian market-focused executives up at night’ – and explores the strategies and tactics they adopt to deal with these challenges.

Project Leader: Professor Peter Dell has research interests in knowledge management and technology adoption especially related to supply chain management (SCM) and logistics. Prior to joining Curtin in 2000, Peter worked in IT and e-Commerce consulting with clients across the private sector and State Government.

Asian Mega-Project Management

The continuing development and integration of Asian economies is largely based on ‘mega-projects’ that often cross local and national borders. One example is China’s ‘one belt, one road’ project, which groups much of the funding China would like to invest in connecting logistically and digitally with its neighbours and other regions. The scale that these ‘mega-projects’ present often surpasses the scope of current project management theory and techniques. There is a need for more applied research to develop case studies and methodologies to accompany ‘mega-project management’.

Project Leader: Professor Fran Ackermann’s main research interests lie in complex project management, with a particular interest in systemic risk which stems from extensive work in disruption and delay modelling. She is interested in helping project managers avoid many of the pitfalls experienced on projects. Through 3D visualisation of ‘risk maps’, Professor Ackermann is helping project managers keep complex projects on track.

Asian Agribusiness Value Chains and Food Security

The concern of Asian countries with building secure agribusiness value chains, and the need for Australian companies to continue their integration into these complex supply chains, is a major ABC research focus. Especially as the research agenda moves from a general mapping of opportunities for Australian companies to dealing with the specific management issues involved in capturing these opportunities effectively and efficiently.

Project Leader: Associate Professor Fay Rola-Rubzen has 25 years of experience in agribusiness and value chain research across the Australasian region. Her projects include supply chain analysis for wheat in WA, DKCRC’s core project on desert businesses and a survey of Australian MSMEs. Fay is a Consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Supplying Asian Energy Systems

Curtin has an organisation-wide oil and gas strategy for both research and teaching and has even assisted to deliver a customised Executive Management Certificate (Gas) to trainees from across China under the auspices of the Australia China Natural Gas Technology Partnership.  The ABC’s research on the business of supplying Asia’s growing energy needs is a key pillar of Curtin’s oil and gas focus. This includes competitor analysis and case studies of successful Asia market-oriented companies.

Project Leader: Professor Peter Moore has over thirty years of experience in the oil and gas business. Peter led Woodside’s worldwide exploration efforts as the Executive Vice President Exploration and he was a member of Woodside’s Executive Committee and Opportunities Management Committee, a leader of its Crisis Management Team, Head of Geoscience across the company and a director of ten subsidiary companies. Throughout his career, Peter has maintained a strong interest in the link between business, academia and research.

METS (Mining Equipment, Technology and Services Providers) in Asia

Australian companies have an international reputation as leaders in providing mining equipment, technology and services. There are many cases of Australian suppliers following both major and junior mining companies into Asian markets – especially, in such established markets as Indonesia, China and India, and finally with emerging markets across Indo-China. The influence of Chinese and Japanese investment in other regions – including Australia, America and Africa – is also a major developing research field.

Project Leader: Professor Sam Spearing is the Director of the School of Mines and has a diverse background in academia and the mining industry. With an international career spanning 40 countries, Australia is the fourth continent he has lived in. Dr Spearing has worked in the mining and underground construction industry, with a focus on mine design, rock mechanics, training and safety.

Consumer and Retail Trends across Asia

This research theme is driven by the Tourism and Branding clusters in the School of Marketing. These clusters have developed expertise and tools for doing Asian market research and upstream value chain analysis around distribution and promotion activities. One innovative technique funded by the ABC involves a new laboratory to explore the pycho-physiological reactions of Asian consumers to leading brands. Another team conducts market research on Asian social media platforms by using customised analytical software.

Project Leader: Professor Ian Phau’s business experience includes management consulting and market research in the luxury fashion industry in Europe and Asia. He has also been involved in several research and consulting projects. Recent portfolios include Hugo Boss Australia, Action Supermarkets, Araluen Botanic Park, Freja Hairstyling, Fotronics China and the Department of Information and Resources WA. Professor Phau has initiated learning outside the classroom through the setting up Curtin Marketing Association. Students apply skills learnt in their studies to events organization and management and have participated and initiated several charity and community events.

Digital Disruption in the Creative/Media Industries

It is no secret that digital disruption is changing the face of Asian business, particularly in the creative and media industries. The ABC is working with Curtin’s China Digital laboratory to extend their research on such companies as Alibaba, Weibo and We Chat, to other Asian markets.

Project Leaders: Professors Michael Keane is director of Creative Transformations Asia and a coordinator of the Digital China project at Curtin University. He is author or editor of fifteen books on China’s media.

Associate Professor Sonia Dickenson’s areas of research interest include advertising self-regulation, message-source effects in advertising, empowerment issues in social media, and brand management. Sonia leads the School of Marketing’s, ‘Media Effectiveness Research Group’.

Comparative Asian Board Governance Project

The increasingly international nature of business is one factor that is pushing for increased transparency in Asian corporate governance. Company structures and commercial jurisdictions across Asia are highly varied. Many Asian economies are dominated by corporate forms such as state-owned-enterprises (SOEs) or family businesses.  More comparative research needs to be undertaken to meet the development of effective corporate governance practices in these companies.

Project leaders: Professor Glennda Scully holds many board and committee memberships including as a member of the Audit Advisory Committee (National) Chartered Accountants and as the Chair of the Catholic Education Commission Finance Standing Committee. Her research is highly international and covers behavioural decision making in auditing, ethics as well as financial disclosure in developing economies (India and South East Asia) and CSR reporting at board level. 

Dr Bella Butler’s research covers Asian board networks and the role of social capital and coopetition in networks. She is working with datasets and other empirical material from Taiwan and China.

Public Management Reform in Asia

Public organisations in Asia are finding it hard to keep pace with the rate of social, economic and political change in their countries. Building the capacity of these public institutions, to meet their challenges, is a major field of applied management research for the ABC.

Project Leader: Professor John Philimore has a long experience in public management as the Chief of Staff to the Minister for Local Government and Regional Development and then as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister for Education and Training, before joining the policy Division of the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet. John is currently the Executive Director of The John Curtin Institute of Public Policy (JCIPP).

Asian Family Business and Ethnic Entrepreneurship

Australia continues to enjoy the benefits of Asian migration. These migrants introduce Asian contacts and other business resources into the Australian market. Many are members of an existing family business, or have ambitions to found one. In the case of ethnic entrepreneurship, family business in a highly preferred option. There are many family business research centres based in leading Asian universities which could partner with the ABC to develop joint research into the challenges and opportunities faced by ethnic/family business moving between Asia and Australia.

Project leader: Dr Susan Leong current research project is titled, The Business of Belonging, and is a study of new media connectivity for the contemporary mainland Chinese diaspora in Australia. The main media foci of this study are the Chinese microblogging platform, Sina Weibo and instant messaging platform, WeChat. Other components include the examination of Australian migration management policies and China’s diaspora engagement strategies.

Research Methods

Researchers use applied research methodologies to tackle key Asian business issues e.g. action science, surveys or evidence-based analytics. A key element in any research and advisory project includes initially writing an issue-specific business case study.

For more information on how to work with the ABC, please contact us.