College of Business Research

We are a community of experienced researchers, passionate about discovering and building solutions to business problems, and pursuing rigorous research solutions for industry and society at large.

On this page you can read about current projects led by RMIT’s College of Business researchers.

Industries, regions, and workers in transition

Regional communities are confronting new challenges as industries restructure and local economies are transformed.

In a series of research projects, Professor Peter Fairbrother and Dr Darryn Snell are working to understand regions in transition and the implications for workers and regional labour markets.

The Latrobe Valley and Geelong currently serve as focal points for their research. The Latrobe Valley, a region highly dependent on brown-coal and electricity generation, confronts the challenges of transitioning to a low carbon economy and ‘cleaner’ energy. Geelong, on the other hand, confronts significant changes to its traditional manufacturing-base. Regional jobs and associated skills are threatened by these changes.

Professor Fairbrother and Dr Snell’s research seeks to assist governments and local employers, unions, and training providers to develop credible programs to assist workers, employers, and local communities in securing a ‘just transition’ for these regions.

Researchers: Professor Peter Fairbrother and Dr Darryn Snell

Funding: ARC Discovery Grant Scheme, The Gordon Institute (Geelong), Department of Regional Australia, Local Government: Arts and Sport, and the Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations

Further information: Climate Change and Sustainable Transitions Research Cluster

Self-care options for supporting gestational diabetes

This research examines how mobile technology can provide superior self-care for diabetes sufferers.

Early detection and pro-active management of diabetes is essential to prevent further debilitating complications. Professor Nilmini Wickramasinghe (Epworth Chair Health Information Management, School of Business IT and Logistics, RMIT) and Steve Goldberg (Founder and CEO of INET International, Canada) started researching this area in 2001. Concurrently, Nilmini and Steve are running several pilot projects at various stages in Australia (at Epworth Freemasons Hospital, together with Drs Stephen Cole and Len Kliman), as well as in Canada and the US.

Funding has been received for the North American studies from organisations including Bayer, IBM, IIT and the US Federal Government and Illinois State Government. For the gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) study in Melbourne, Epworth Medical Foundation has provided funding. Professors Wickramasinghe and Goldberg were selected to present their conceptual model at Harvard Medical School’s prestigious Conference, Medicine 2.0 (2012).

Researchers: Professor Nilmini Wickramasinghe (Epworth Chair Health Information Management, RMIT University) and Steve Goldberg (Founder and CEO of INET International, Canada).

Funding: North American studies—Bayer, IBM, IIT and the US Federal Government and Illinois State Government. Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) study in Melbourne—Epworth Medical Foundation.

Securing the future of our ports

Modern ports are among the most critical gateways linking national supply chains to global markets.

Seaports are sites that add value to economic activities, thereby creating economic growth through global connectedness and service innovation.

This research is funded by the National Climate Change Adaptability Research Facility (NCCARF) project.

The aim is to assist in developing a better understanding of the vulnerability of critical seaport infrastructure (structural and functional), and to create new knowledge and methodologies for enhancing port resilience to future climate change.

The research team examines the consequences of potential climate change on the ports and their catchment areas. Outcomes of the project include recommendations for those changes in policy and practice necessary for making Australian ports more sustainable during climate extremes.

Researchers: Professor Prem Chhetri, Dr Victor Gekara, Professor Brian Corbitt, and Professor Nilmini Wickramasinghe

Funding: National Climate Change Adaptability Research Facility (NCCARF) project

Further information:Ports and Maritime Logistics Research Cluster

Business education: A new research agenda

The newly established Centre for Business Education Research (CBER) aims to be a global leader in business education research.

It promotes excellence in innovative, high quality research into the education and training needs of business in Australia and globally.

CBER members engage with business practitioners to identify the skills and training needed for world’s best practice in business education. The Centre will draw on its members’ strengths, particularly in accounting, business information systems, law, management, marketing, and supply and logistics. CBER facilitates new forms of engagement with industry, government, non-government, and community agencies.

CBER’s Director, Professor Sandra Jones, leads in this field of research, and currently holds an Australian Business Deans Council Grant for the project, Innovative Practice Trial: Future of Management Education. This project will develop and test a novel and creative approach to management education for undergraduate students. Working in collaboration with Professor Roger Hadgraft, the Innovation Professor in Engineering Education, the project aims to cultivate graduates with creative, integrative-thinking skills to lead in complex, interdisciplinary environments.

Researchers: Professor Sandra Jones (CBER’s Director) and Professor Roger Hadgraft

Funding: Australian Business Deans Council Grant

What women want? The problem of finance

By the time women retire, they are generally worse off financially than men.

This project is the first to measure the impact of underlying factors that explain rather than first describe the financial decision-making behaviour of women.

The research is funded by a three-year ARC Discovery grant. The research team aims to produce findings that will inform the design and development of investment programs, strategies, and products that are relevant, realistic, and of interest to women.

The results will help to direct resources in increasing the financial wellbeing of women in Australia.

Researchers: Professor Roslyn Russell, Associate Professor Amalia Di Iorio, Professor Tim Fry, and Professor Lisa Farrell

Funding: ARC Discovery Grant

Effective communication: Communities and bushfire

This Project (2010-2013) analyses community networks and how they can facilitate an understanding of, and response to, disaster communication.

The project undertakes a set of community case studies, conducted in 12 different localities, across four Australian states. The aim of the project is to increase community resilience to bushfires and shape communication and education strategies to increase preparedness for bushfires.

The project is based in the Centre for Sustainable Organisations and Work (CSOW).

Researchers: Professor Peter Fairbrother (Centre Director and lead researcher), Dr Meagan Tyler, Dr Sue Chaplin, Dr Bernard Mees, Mr Sam Carroll-Bell, Dr Richard Phillips, Dr Keith Toh and Ms Emily Toome

Funding: Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre (CRC)

Further information:Centre for Sustainable Organisations and Work

Reducing economic vulnerability and increasing resilience in the Pacific

Pacific countries are increasingly vulnerable to external shocks, which include events such as economic shocks and natural disasters.

There is very little research addressing these problems in the Pacific. This project examines how households and communities in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have been affected by the Global Economic Crisis, as well as by recent rises in the price of food and fuel. It also examines how resilient the communities are when it comes to dealing with these shocks.

Commencing in June 2010, this three-year research project is funded by AusAID, with the RMIT research team comprising Associate Professor Simon Feeny, Dr Alberto Posso and PhD candidate Lachlan McDonald. The project includes researchers from Oxfam Australia, Deakin University, and the University of the South Pacific.

By identifying the most vulnerable households and understanding the factors that contribute to household resilience, the research will provide policymakers, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and international aid donors with crucial information to help target their interventions.

Researchers: Associate Professor Simon Feeny, Dr Alberto Posso and Mr Lachlan McDonald

Funding: Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) Australian Development Research Award (ADRA) scheme

Green IT

Sustainable Information Technology (IT) and Information Systems (IS) are central to formulating sustainable development policies and procedures of governments.

Companies that work to ensure their operations are both economically and environmentally sound are focusing on Green IT. Nevertheless, Sustainable IT/IS development practice is not easy to implement.

The Green IT researchers, based in the School of Business IT and Logistics, aim to understand and facilitate connections between information technology and information systems and environmental sustainability. They are working in collaboration with the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Fujitsu Australia and Connection Research.

Green IT researchers identify models, practices, and strategies for how organisations can make their IT operations sustainable, and so contribute to the wider goals of the enterprise.

Researchers: Associate Professor Alem Molla (Convenor), Dr Vanessa Cooper, Professor Hepu Deng, Professor Brian Corbitt, Dr Siddhi Pittayachawan, Dr Ahmad Abareshi, Mr Mohamad Ijab, Mr Adel Alaraifi and Mr Ming Yew.

Further information:Green IT Observatory

Lifestyle factors and problem drinking

Alcohol is a major part of cultural and social life in Australia.

There are, however, many social and health problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption. These include increased personal violence, family dysfunction, health and mental problems.

Previous research in this area has often focused on single act behaviours (such as a binge-drinking sessions) and on specific problem groups (such as youth and males). Nevertheless, it is important to broaden our population focus to better understand the lifestyle-related connections to alcohol consumption, and how lifestyle shapes the nature of problem drinking and associated behaviours.

This research is funded through a 2010 VicHealth Innovation Grant. The results will provide us with an opportunity to improve media and message strategies to modify problem drinking behaviour.

Researchers: Associate Professor Mike Reid, Professor Francis Farrelly, Professor Lisa Farrell, Professor Tim Fry (RMIT University) and Professor Tony Worsley (Deakin University).

Funding: VicHealth Innovation Grant


This inter-College research network is convened by Professor Supriya Singh.

It aims to: identify those staff and students whose research work, regardless of discipline, has an Asian focus; and provide forums through which researchers can network, exchange and discuss their research findings.

Asia@RMIT has hosted seminars on politics, economics, and culture with an Asian focus. For example, seminars have been held on urban design in Tokyo, the challenges of health centres in Bangladesh, Chinese foreign investment in Africa, and the history of research in Sri Lanka. Other topics have included remittances to India, memories of headhunters in Borneo, and sustaining Singapore nationalism abroad.

In 2012, Asia@RMIT seminars have addressed subjects such as the Chinese exchange rate, Asian TV, metaphors in Asia, and songs in Japan.

This research network also provides a depository of research knowledge for scholars interested in similar topics. Information within the depository is categorised by country.

Researcher: Professor Supriya Singh

Funding: RMIT Graduate School of Business and Law, College of Business

Further information:Asia@RMIT

Simple privacy framework

This research project develops a simple privacy framework for use by small businesses and other organisations on their webpages.

It aims to simplify the legal responsibilities and burden in providing a comprehensive privacy policy, and provides greater clarity for users of their websites. This study is funded by the Smart Services Co-operative Research Centre (CRC).

At present, users have difficulty understanding what online privacy policies state about the data protection practices of the organisations they deal with.

This project develops a framework for privacy policies that involves an icon and set of simplified privacy policies. A key outcome of the research will be a website that generates a privacy policy that is tailored to an organisation’s requirements.

Researchers: Professor Margaret Jackson, Jonathan O’Donnell, Mr Joann Cattlin, and Ms Lillian Lowe

Funding: Smart Services Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)

Further information:Smart Services CRC

What is the impact of a PhD?

This project investigates the impact of doctoral graduates’ publications.

It also examines the contribution of their research over time to their professional work and their communities.

Associate Professor Peter Macauley (School of Business IT and Logistics, RMIT) and Professor Terry Evans of Deakin University were awarded an ARC Discovery grant, to study this topic.

The research findings will inform understandings of, and strategies for, enhancing and evaluating the impact of doctoral graduates on their work and the wider society. Along with other ARC-funded projects by Evans and Macauley, the $215,000 grant has already influenced government higher education policy. Recommendations arising out of the Research include those on reporting and coding of completed doctoral theses from Australian universities.

Researchers: Associate Professor Peter Macauley (RMIT University) and Professor Terry Evans (Deakin University)

Funding: ARC Discovery Grant

See also…

RMIT Research
Information about Research capabilities, research institutes, research performance, grants and funding at RMIT

School of Graduate Research
School of Graduate Research is responsible for promoting and enhancing research education and training at RMIT

Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)
ERA is a national system, developed by the Commonwealth Government, to evaluate the quality of research in all Australian universities