This research program focuses on institutions and rapid change. It examines how the regulation and governance of organisations helps society to respond to complex social and economic issues and adapt to technological changes.

The program is led by Helen Bird, Swinburne Corporate Governance Industry Fellow, a widely regarded thought leader on corporate governance and regulation.

The program examines how organisations govern themselves and how they are influenced by regulation, regulators and other stakeholder interests, including government, investors, customers, creditors, suppliers, environmental actors and local communities.

The program harnesses interdisciplinary techniques from law, finance, economic analysis, management and organisational psychology to investigate, explain and critique how organisations respond to complex social, economic and technological problems. 

While our research focuses on business organisations, we also consider governance and regulation of other entities, including professional service firms and critical infrastructure providers.

We explore the drivers of business behaviours and responses to complex issues that impact on society. We aim to define and build more robust systems of governance and better regulation to redress the constantly buffeting head-winds of economic, social and technological change.

Our research themes

  • Corporate governance in the age of artificial intelligence, cyber attacks, system outages and technology project failures
  • Social transformation through regulation and governance
  • Investment stewardship, sustainability and regulation
  • Organisational culture and corporate governance
  • Regulatory compliance and enforcement

Our projects

This stream of research is about the structures and parameters that businesses need to put around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace, from the board of directors to the factory, shop or office floor.

Researchers Helen Bird and Natania Locke investigate corporate governance practices for managing AI in organisations and the impact of AI on corporate legal liabilities such as directors’ duties.

In response to the technology failure of the CHESS replacement project undertaken by Australian Stock Exchange Ltd (ASX), researchers Helen Bird and William Klein have examined the project’s collapse and tracked the technology failings at the ASX from the project management team to the board of directors.

Their findings were the subject of a detailed submission to the Federal Government’s Joint Parliamentary Committee Inquiry in September 2023 – a governance story that has implications for every business undertaking a technology transformation project. We continue to develop this research to consider its wider implications and insights for Australian businesses.

This research explores the intersections between culture, governance and toxic masculinity in Australia’s public companies in response to the public condemnation of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2023.

One of the world’s largest accounting and professional services firms, PwC were found to have shared confidential government information about tax law changes for the purposes of marketing their services to new global clients – leading to government inquiries, investigations by the Australian Federal Police and even a private report commissioned by PwC on its governance.

Researcher Natania Locke prepared a submission on behalf of the Society of Corporate Law Academics (Australia) to the PJC Inquiry into PwC and appeared as an expert witness at a hearing on 23 November 2023, at which her submission was discussed in detail. 

Sexual harassment is a blight on the modern Australian workplace, costing the Australian economy $3.8 billion in lost productivity and victim costs in 2022. New laws now impose a positive duty for employers to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Researchers Jessica Ross and Helen Bird are investigating the corporate governance obligations that this duty entails for Australian companies.

This research, undertaken by Dr Natania Locke concerns the very real and ever present issue of climate and sustainability reporting. Natania examines the international unification of sustainability reporting standards, as well as domestic developments in the setting of such standards, by the EU and four of Australia’s major trading partners — the EU, the USA, the UK, Canada and New Zealand. It foreshadows the key lessons to be taken from these developments, contextualises the recent consultations on the topic by Australian Treasury and shows how Australian developments align with international developments.  

Natania Locke, ‘International Developments in Mandatory Sustainability Disclosure and what it Means for Australian Corporate Disclosure’ (2023) 39(1) Australian Journal of Corporate Law 163-194.

Our news and reports

Title Source Date
The Optus chief was right to quit but real change is unlikely at the telco until bigger issues are fixed The Conversation 20 November 2023
The Optus outage shows us the perils of having vital networks in private hands The Conversation 15 November 2023
Title Source Date
Why trust in business is falling, and why it matters ABC Radio National with Hilary Harper 13 September 2023
Will Alan Joyce’s early departure save Qantas from a crash landing?  Ausbiz The Briefing 5 September 2023
Do we really need consultants? ABC Life Matters 6 June 2023
Title Source Date
The corporate board in an age of collaborative intelligence and complex risk Faculti 11 January 2024

Explore our other research programs

Register your interest

If you would like to be kept informed about our research and/or are interested in interdisciplinary collaboration (university, industry and community), email us at sii@swinburne.edu.au.  

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