Reversing the Decline of Innovation in Australian Manufacturing and Services

The aim of the project is to investigate the pattern of Australian firms’ innovation, in terms of technological (product and process) as well as non-technological (marketing and organisational) innovations. This will be done by analysing the enabling and inhibiting factors at micro and macro levels, using large scale data representative of firms in various Knowledge Intensive Sectors, regions, and size classes. This is much needed and timely because Australian firms’ innovation ranks poorly against other countries and has declined persistently since the years preceding the Global Financial Crisis.

Research Questions

  • What are the managerial-level factors that systematically enhance innovation of firms?
  • What are the firm-level factors that systematically enhance innovation of firms?
  • What are the regional-level factors that systematically enhance innovation of firms?
  • What are the industry-level factors that systematically enhance innovation of firms?
  • How can innovative and non-innovative firms design innovation strategies to increase their innovation propensity and innovation intensity, respectively?

Research Problem

Australian firms’ innovation ranks poorly against other countries and has declined persistently since the years preceding the Global Financial Crisis, although many advanced economies have already bounced back after the crisis. This is a clear concern because a country indeed needs innovative firms if it wants to create new (types of) jobs, have higher export intensity, create more wealth, and reduce environmental footprint. The significant problem is that there is neither an adequate understanding of the factors that inhibit or enable innovation of firms, nor a comprehensive large scale dataset available to pave the way for investigation of the inhibiting and enabling factors. Moreover, only 33% of Australian firms reported having an innovation strategy in 2014, with just 10% reported that their strategies were documented. This project directly addresses such practical problems, by empirically identifying and analysing such enabling and inhibiting factors, which eventually can be beneficial for providing evidence based policy and strategy to foster the innovation of (Australian) firms.

Proposed Output

  • Build new knowledge about inhibiting and enabling factors concerning the innovation behaviour of firms by combining micro and macro factors in an integrated framework
  • Contribute to better understanding of innovation behaviour of firms of different sizes, in various regions and various knowledge intensive industries
  • Produce options for firms in order to align their innovation strategy to micro and macro factors, and hence improve their competitive advantage
  • Generate options for Australian governments to design evidence-based innovation policy at the regional as well as national levels

This project is well in aligned to the research priority of the Global Business Innovation ECP with the director of this ECP being the co-supervisor of the project.

Proposed postgraduate research program

  • School: School of Management
  • Course code: DR204
  • Program name: PhD (Management)

Value and duration

A stipend of $32,000 per year over the duration of three years.

Number of scholarships available



To be considered for scholarship you must hold, or be currently completing either:

  • Master by research
  • Master by coursework with a significant research component graded as high distinction, or equivalent
  • Honours degree achieving first class honours
  • 4 year bachelor degree achieving a GPA of 4 or equivalent (80% or above).

If you do not hold one of the above qualifications you will only be considered for scholarship if you have previous peer reviewed publications or significant research experience.

Please make sure that you check the individual eligibility requirements of these scholarships prior to submitting your application.

It is also important to note that the scholarship rounds are highly competitive and satisfying the eligibility requirements does not guarantee a successful outcome. When a scholarship round closes all applications are received are ranked in order of merit. This process takes five to six weeks to complete. Applicants are typically advised of the outcome of a scholarship round five to six weeks after the round closes for applications.

How to apply

International applicants need to apply for admission via iApply and ensure that there is an offer in place before submitting a scholarship application via the Google form. Domestic applicants can continue to apply for both admission and scholarship via this PDF form. Domestic applicants who already hold an offer of admission from RMIT for a PhD or Masters by Research program but have not enrolled may apply for a scholarship using the Google form.

Open date

Applications are open until 4 May 2018. International applicants must have an offer of place prior to applying for a scholarship and are encouraged to submit an admission application by 27 April 2018.

Terms and conditions

See the research scholarship terms and conditions (PDF 279KB 10p) for more information.

Supervisory Team/Contact

Dr Sam Tavassoli

Professor Anne-Laure Mention