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LBS’s Associate Professor Suzanne Young featured on ABC Radio 774’s Mornings with Waleed Aly discussing governance

young-466-002

Recently, LBS’s Associate Professor Suzanne Young was featured on ABC Radio 774’s Mornings. On the show, she spoke about how the two-strike rule works, and how Board spills can happen in the 2016 round of Annual General Meetings due to protest votes on Remuneration reports.

If you missed the report, listen to the full fragment here. Associate Professor Suzanne Young speaks around the 2:25:00 mark.

LBS’s Liam Lenten featured on ABC’s Radio 666 Canberra discussing the Brownlow Medal

 Liam Lenten Sports La Trobe Business School Federal Election

Recently, Dr Liam Lenten was featured on ABC’s Radio 666 Canberra, talking about his research on the voting process in the AFL’s Brownlow Medal (the ‘Best and Fairest’ award). In his research, Dr Liam Lenten analysed how umpires vote and whether they have any biases.

During the segment, Dr Lenten says he became motivated to test for how Indigenous players draw votes from umpires early on in the project – a time at which there were a number of unsavoury incidents involving adverse fan behaviour (particularly) towards now-retired Sydney star Adam Goodes.

‘As economists, we are interested in voting biases whenever and wherever they occur, as they violate the notion of pure rationality. There are many examples in the literature involving data from various competitive environments, including many from sports, but also political elections, and even song contests such as Eurovision or Idol’, Dr Lenten says.

In this case, he employs econometric modelling and regression techniques, as well as a comprehensive database of over 100,000 player-within-match observations, in all of the 2,288 home-and-away AFL matches from 1998-2010.

Lenten says ‘…when I compared the number of votes between groups, Indigenous players quantitatively poll 6.6% more average votes per match than non-Indigenous players – this difference was statistically significant, but only weakly so’.

He qualifies this by saying that this alone does not imply a voting bias: “The comparison does not account for various factors, which could be driving the result. One possible explanation is that the pool of Indigenous players in the AFL is simply drawn from a higher-distribution of talent than non-Indigenous players. Aspiring Indigenous footballers are more likely to be from regional and remote areas, consistent with being at an elite-level recruitment disadvantage.”

According to Lenten, if this explanation is true, then such differences in talent levels should be picked up by using player performance measures. Specifically, he uses a range of 13 well-known player-level match statistics; such as kicks, handballs, goals scored, and tackles.

The model results show that controlling for player performance explains most (but not quite all) of the difference in average votes awarded. Indigenous players still poll approximately 1.2% more votes than non-indigenous players.

Is this remaining difference evidence that umpires unfairly give more votes to Indigenous players? As a former 200-game umpire himself (at suburban level), Dr Lenten is open to this possibility, but not committal.

‘There could be other productive actions off the ball for which Indigenous players outperform their contemporaries that are not captured within the statistics I use, yet are nonetheless noticed by umpires’. Also, he says: ‘…with respect to goals, it may be that Indigenous players often kick goals with higher degrees of difficulty, which would imply that not all goals have the same vote impact’.

Listen to the full fragment on the ABC website, here (Dr Liam Lenten speaks around the 3:26:00 mark).

LBS PhD Student Pedro Flores wins the 2016 AARES-NZARES Heading West Award

pedro-flores-tenorio

Recently, LBS PhD student Pedro Flores won the 2016 AARES-NZARES Heading West Award. For this award, Pedro travelled to the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society in Nelson, New Zealand, where he presented his winning paper on Economics of Biodiversity Conservation in the Peruvian Amazon. The abstract of the winning paper, “Including the maintenance of ecosystem resilience of an old-growth forest as a choice for natural carbon sequestration funding. An ecological-economic approach”, can be found below.

La Trobe Business School would like to congratulate Pedro on his success!

Abstract

Australia is one of the first countries to prepare long-term pathways studies to decarbonize its economy. Peru is a megadiverse country with the second extension of forests in the Amazon basin. The design of efficient public policies for these territories is challenging due the fragility of public institutions and lack of economic valuation of important ecosystem services provided from old-growth forests.

This paper presents an ecological-economic model for a key non-timber forest product of the Peruvian Amazon basin: the Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) and analyses the bioeconomic dimensions of two ecosystem services: pollination and the forest cover to provide habitat for flora and fauna. Could the investment in natural carbon sequestration in the Amazon be the best economic option for developed countries as Australia or New Zealand to mitigate the effects of climate change instead of man-made carbon sequestration strategies? We discuss the implications of this choice from the ecological-economics perspective.

LBS Associate Professor Cardak quoted in The Age on wealth and access to higher education

Buly Cardak La Trobe Business School
On 18 January 2016, La Trobe Business School economics researcher Dr Buly Cardak was quoted in The Age article ‘University offers benefit wealthy and realistic students’.

In the article, A/Professor Cardak comments on his recent research findings showing that wealthier school leavers with a realistic worldview and ongoing forms of support access higher education at greater rates compared with students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Dr Cardak is a specialist in the economics of education, and has been researching factors influencing students’ university studies since early 2006. Read the full article on The Age’s website.

For more information on Dr Cardak’s research, see his website.

Can Economics Improve People’s Wellbeing?

jan Libich La Trobe Business

jan Libich La Trobe BusinessLBS economist Jan Libich has a mission. He has been determined to show that economics, often referred to as the dismal science, can be very useful in helping us improve our lives. His newly published book ‘Real-World Economic Policy: Insights from Leading Australian Economists’ is a culmination of his effort so far. It bridges the gap between academic economists, policymakers, students and the general public by exploring how influential economists – including four former central bank Governors/Board members, an ACCC Commissioner, and a current member of the federal parliament and Shadow Minister – use economic research to develop and evaluate policy.

When asked what constitutes this gap between economists and the general public, Jan Libich’s passion for economics shows: “Economics is often portrayed as divorced from the real world; it is criticized for being about boring curve-shifting, equations and heartless definitions. The book attempts to show that such image is not accurate, that economics can help people and policymakers to make better decisions and thus improve their prosperity.”

Real-World Economic Policy: Insights from Leading Australian Economists is based on a series of one-hour video-interviews the author recorded from 2011–2014 , aiming to help the reader identify welfare-improving policies in areas including healthcare, education, retirement financing, monetary and fiscal policies, banking regulation and climate change. Libich explains: “We all make hundreds of decisions every day. Economics attempts to understand how we make them, and whether we can perhaps improve on our decision making to achieve our goals (whatever they may be: economics does not prescribe that money is all we should care about). The same is true at the country level, whereby the quality of public policies can have a major impact on people’s wellbeing.”

In Jan Libich’s eyes, research in economics has been getting more mathematical over time to enable a more rigorous and objective examination of the economy: “It is about discipline, it is easier to see a flaw in logic when one has to clearly state all the assumptions rather than just use verbal arguments. Together with improvements in computing power this enabled exploration of more complicated models and environments.”

However, these developments have also created a gap between what academic research can teach us and what policymakers in government and the general public can understand. “To me, this implies that academic economists need to pay more attention to communicating their findings and recommendations in an understandable and convincing fashion. And to be honest, we have not done that as well as we should have,” Libich says. “My book is a humble attempt in this direction.”

More information on ‘Real-World Economic Policy: Insights from Leading Australian Economists’ can be obtained here.

ISBN: 9780170364386, Published by Cengage Learning Australia, Pub Date: November 2015, © 2016

“Near Enough is Good Enough”

Mark Morris La Trobe Business School Professor of Practice
By Mark Morris

It’s not often that I intuitively align the laborious machinations of industry policy deliberations in Canberra with the wise intonations of the Rolling Stones but that is exactly how I responded after I digested the Federal Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda report issued on Monday 7 December 2015.

As Mick and Keith once sagely wrote ‘You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometime you find you get what you need.’ This pretty much sums up the overall impact of the myriad of changes announced which collectively makes Australia a far more attractive place in which to invest in innovative businesses. This is the case even if the report falls short of the cutting edge vision of economies like the United Kingdom.

On the plus side it is clear that the Federal Government has commendably adopted a multi-disciplinary approach to improving research and development (R&D) and related commercialisation. It has done this by proposing measures that enhance access to venture capital, drive closer collaboration between universities and industry, improve educational outcomes in science, technology, engineering and maths, ensure digital by default delivery of government services and capitalises on the growth of big data and the need to leverage it for the benefit of the economy through advanced data analytics.

As such the Federal Government is seeking to apply a more holistic view on innovation policy along the lines championed by the Cutler Review of the National Innovation System way back in 2008. This was before the Global Financial Crisis derailed the process to the point where we did not need a Minister for Science as if that distracted us from the fixation of repairing the Budget Deficit.

Crucially the tax settings of the new innovation regime are also a considerable improvement over the status quo. Tax incentives are not only available for companies undertaking R&D but also for investors who provide the venture capital to fund the commercialisation of any resulting R&D.

Accordingly, the Federal Government has finally recognised that tax breaks need to be provided over the life cycle of a business to encourage entrepreneurs to conduct and invest in risky projects which may ultimately not be viable especially in the new rapidly dynamic and volatile digital economy.

As a case study to the Report highlights the retention of the existing refundable R&D tax offset allows start-up companies to leverage tax credits to help finance eligible research and development. This is so, even if it appears that the offset will be retrospectively cut from 45% to 43.5% from 1 July 2015).

This has been augmented by new tax breaks which allow individual investors a 20% non-refundable tax offset for investments in certain start-ups, and a capital gains tax exemption where investments held in such companies are held for more than three years but less than 10 years. In addition, partners in early stage venture capital limited partnerships (ESVCLP) will get a 10% non-refundable tax offset on capital invested in the partnership which can now raise funds of up to $200 million in early stage development of eligible activities.

Taken collectively there is therefore much to be praised in the new package.

So where does it fall down?

Firstly, the Report flags that there will be yet another review of the efficacy of the R&D incentive by the newly created Innovation and Science Australia Board. This concession has been around in various forms since 1985 and has had almost as many reboots or variants as the James Bond franchise. The last thing that an innovative entrepreneur wants to see is uncertainty as to whether it will still be around to help finance their initial R&D so let’s hope it is enhanced and not diminished.

Secondly, the take up in ESVCLP has tended to be relatively low as high wealth investors with surplus cash want some control over their venture capital investment. This is not the case with this investment vehicle where your investment is generally capped to a maximum 30% interest. I do not see that radically changing because of the prospect of a 10% non-refundable tax offset. And the proposed rules on other investors are typically over-restrictive.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the Report does not address our internationally uncompetitive corporate tax rates of 28.5% and 30%. Additionally, the demarcation between those tax rate regimes can itself be a practical nightmare to navigate.

How does this compare to the United Kingdom’s 18% corporate tax rate to apply from 1 July 2020, and particularly to royalties and capital gains arising from intellectual property subject to their patent box regime which will likely be subject to further concessional tax treatment?

I would suggest not that well even if it is not an apple to apple comparison.

It’s true that businesses don’t do things solely because of a tax break but a whopping differential in tax rates could be a deciding factor in a mobile digital world as to where you want to invest your capital in innovative products and processes.

However, even if the proposed changes fall short of addressing all facets of our international competitiveness they do signal that our Federal Government is finally serious about instilling an innovation mentality and culture in our businesses, universities and the broader community.

Which leads us back to Mick and Keith.

Maybe the announced changes are not what we ideally want in becoming an international trendsetter on innovation but maybe it’s what we need to allow us to nationally lift our head and embrace being part of the new innovative digital economy.

And given where we have been perhaps that is enough at this point.

 

Public Administration in a globalised world: La Trobe Business School’s Zahirul Hoque takes leading role at 2015 Greater China Australia Dialogue

La Trobe Business School Zahirul Hoque

Zahirul Hoque (far right) at the 2015 Greater China Australia Dialogue Conference.

On 14, 15 and 16 November 2015, leading Australian academics were invited to attend the 2015 Greater China Australia Dialogue Conference, to share their knowledge with Chinese and Taiwanese scholars and practitioners working in public sector administration.

Why from Australia?

The public administration sector is changing rapidly in a globalised world. Creating structures in the public administration sector to ensure government programs and organisations use their funds efficiently and effectively has been shown to be crucial as a means to nurture good practices within a community. In Australia, the government has developed a highly efficient model that in time has also cultivated government agencies to start generating their own funds. By introducing performance audits along with performance management practices, not unlike companies in the private sector, Australian government agencies are no longer required to fall back fully on government finances.

In rapidly expanding economies such as China or Taiwan, these auditing and management structures are largely still being established. Government agencies are still heavily reliant on government money, often without being assessed thoroughly enough. By initiating the Greater China Australia Dialogue Conference, China and Taiwan want to sharpen ties with eminent Australian academics so as to exchange knowledge on the public sector, thereby equipping Chinese and Taiwanese scholars with the tools they need to engage with public sector reform.

Professor Zahirul Hoque

Professor Zahirul Hoque, who is La Trobe Business School’s Head of Department of Accounting, as well as the Executive Director of the La Trobe University Centre for Public Sector Governance, Accountability and Performance (CPSGAP), has more than twenty years’ experience in the Public Sector. During a workshop themed ‘Value for Money’, he presented two papers on performance auditing, performance management and parliamentary oversight.

In his presentations Professor Hoque highlighted how the use of performance auditing and performance management can create a strong sense of accountability at all levels of a public sector organisation. By introducing this auditing process that independently evaluates the effectiveness and efficiency of government undertakings, parliaments can not only see how much government initiatives are costing them, but also how those initiatives benefit the country’s economy and, in turn, the community.

The positive effect of performative auditing is notable around the world, with performance auditing increasingly become international best practice. As Professor Hoque concluded in his paper, there is a lesson in this for other nations. But the road is long: developing and implementing new practices takes significant work and effort over many years. Having guidance from experts in such a situation is invaluable. For China and Taiwan, sharing knowledge with scholars like LBS’s Professor Zahirul Hoque is an important step in this process.

La Trobe Business School Zahirul Hoque

La Trobe Business School Zahirul Hoque

Emma Sherry plays key role in developing more inclusive sport in South Australia

Emma Sherry

Last month, Dr Emma Sherry from the Centre for Sport and Social Impact was invited by the South Australian Office of Sport and Recreation to provide strategic advice and a keynote presentation on the topic of sport and inclusion.

During the day with the ORS team, Emma delivered an internal professional development session to ORS staff regarding the research context in Australia and the Pacific on developing more inclusive and diverse sport organisations. The key message of this session was to provide insights that the team can apply to increasing opportunities for the South Australian community to participate in sport at all levels and a wide variety of roles.

Following the ORS staff workshop, Emma delivered a keynote and interactive session with a group of 30 CEOs and senior managers from South Australian state sporting organisations. This session was supported by the CEO of Inclusive Sport SA, and together with the ORS executive this session was provided as a joint initiative and to build on the momentum of Inclusive Sport SA’s Building an Inclusive Culture Forum and three Empowering Sport to Reflect Community Round Tables held earlier in the year.

Emma’s keynote and workshop discussed:

  • insight into current research and results that could influence SSO decision making
  • opportunity to examine how SSOs engage in diversity and inclusion, strategically and operationally (and what is the difference between the two)
  • sports to be aware of the benefits to them of embracing all aspects of their sport and all potential participants and pathways
  • sport understanding of the value and role of good news stories and the potential to get buy in from other partners
  • understanding that inclusion is core business and a strategic imperative and
  • to encourage collaboration and thought leadership between sport organisations.Key learnings from this workshop will be used by the South Australian SSOs to prepare for a new South Australian government funding initiative Sport and Recreation Development and Inclusion Program which will deliver over $3 million to sport organisations for projects up to 3 years in duration. Emma and the team at the Centre for Sport and Social Impact are liaising with ORS to collaborate in monitoring and evaluation for this funding program to assess the impact of this policy on the diversity and inclusion practices of state sport organisations.

Key learnings from this workshop will be used by the South Australian SSOs to prepare for a new South Australian government funding initiative Sport and Recreation Development and Inclusion Program which will deliver over $3 million to sport organisations for projects up to 3 years in duration. Emma and the team at the Centre for Sport and Social Impact are liaising with ORS to collaborate in monitoring and evaluation for this funding program to assess the impact of this policy on the diversity and inclusion practices of state sport organisations.

La Trobe Business School experts change lives in Papua New Guinea

Emma Sherry La Trobe Business School Papua New Guinea

The NRL-run League Bilong Laif (League for Life) program in Papua New Guinea is positively changing the lives of participants, according to an evaluation by the Centre for Sport and Social Impact at La Trobe University.

Experts from La Trobe recently returned from a visit to PNG to assess the impact of League Bilong Laif, a sport-for-development program that runs in schools and promotes messages about respect and the importance of education for all Papua New Guineans. The program is funded by the Australian government and delivered by a team of Papua New Guinean NRL staff in four regions.

“We are starting to see that League Bilong Laif is more than just a schools program and can impact change for females, males and people with disabilities of all ages and in all regions”

“We are starting to see that League Bilong Laif is more than just a schools program and can impact change for females, males and people with disabilities of all ages and in all regions” says NRL Pacific Program Manager John Wilson, who travelled with the La Trobe review team to Port Moresby, Eastern Highlands Province, East New Britain Province, and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

“The NRL PNG team under the management of Mark Mom are doing a great job. We are building awareness that rugby league is not just a sport through delivering our positive education and respect messages in each community that will ultimately define the future of the program. The team is also delivering the program in sign language to make it more accessible” said Mr Wilson.

In addition, research found that participating in the League Bilong Laif program provides children with an opportunity to engage with education in a meaningful way, and that the program reinforces the message of gender equality through female NRL PNG staff, who are seen as role models and strong women.

Reflecting on his visit, Mr Wilson said PNG was full of great people that were looking for ways to contribute to their communities for a better tomorrow. “League Bilong Laif is a great platform for our staff to give back. In each region that we visited, the staff presented new opportunities for me to explore the cultural and logistical differences that affect the programs we deliver every day,” he said.

The research has found that the impact of the program extends beyond participating children, with preliminary findings suggesting positive change for program staff and broader communities, through partnerships with PNG and international charities, and community outreach programs.

Education specialists have been involved from the initial stages to establish and review the LBL program to ensure quality delivery of the program with desired outcomes. Review team member and sports management specialist Dr. Emma Sherry said they monitor education and gender equality outcomes through surveys and interviews with teachers and NRL PNG staff, stories of change with children, and via in-depth in-country interviews with program funders and key stakeholders.  By utilising these tools, the review team has sought to identify changes in attitude, behaviour and the impact of these on the participants, their school and community.

Dr. Sherry stated that the LBL program had grown exponentially since its inception three years ago, and the success of employing full-time staff, reaching out to dozens of schools, hundreds of teachers and many thousands of children is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the staff in both PNG and Australia.

“During the pilot phase, the program had been refined and is now being replicated across the Pacific [Fiji, Samoa and Tonga] as an example of how to actively engage children and their communities in education” she said.

League Bilong Laif is managed through a three-way partnership between the Australian Government, the PNG Government (represented by the National Department of Education) and the NRL. The program is supported by the Autonomous Bougainville Government Department of Education, the PNG Rugby Football League (PNGRFL), the University of PNG and the PNG National Sports Institute.

This article awas originally published on NRL.com

UniSuper’s WIL invaluable for financial planning students

UniSuper La Trobe Business School
One of the key strengths of the Financial Planning program offered by La Trobe Business School is the range of work integrated learning (WIL) experiences that students can participate in.

La Trobe’s Financial Planning program, led by Senior Lecturer Marc Olynyk, has developed strong relationships with the profession and leading industry practitioners. As well as teaching the theoretical knowledge required of a financial planning professional, students are also taught to apply this theory to real-life work issues.

Over the past four years, the annual UniSuper Financial Planning seminar has grown to become a key feature of La Trobe Business School’s Financial Planning program. UniSuper – one of Australia’s leading superannuation funds – hosted this year’s seminar on 25 September at their offices in Melbourne’s CBD.

Led by Mr Graham Eggins, Regional Manager Southern at UniSuper, and supported by various team members, the seminar provides students with the opportunity to experience financial planning in a real-life work environment. It also aims to develop their skills in communication and strategy development.

“UniSuper has been a great supporter of the financial planning program at La Trobe University over a number of years and has a strong commitment towards promoting the education experiences of our students,” said Mr Olynyk.

La Trobe Business School is one of the market leaders in financial planning education in Australia. The Financial Planning program places considerable emphasis on a range of work-based learning experiences, as well as providing work-ready skills to prepare students for entry into the rapidly expanding profession. The Financial Planning Major can be undertaken from within a number of undergraduate business courses on offer from La Trobe Business School.

Interested in enrolling in a Business Degree? See our Business courses page for more information. 

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