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Otago Business School researchers are involved with a wide variety of research projects. These projects have the potential to contribute real value to the wider community, business, government, and the not-for-profit sector. Find out more about our work below.

COVID‑19: Rebuilding Aotearoa

New Zealand is emerging from the storm that is COVID‑19. We are now all facing a changed country; sectors and industries are struggling, and unemployment is increasing. What can we do? What should we do? We asked experts from Otago Business School.

Read what the experts had to say (PDF)

Caves to castles

Second homes are often perceived to have tangible tourism values, particularly in the regions, but they also offer more intangible value for leisure and wellbeing for their owners.

Trudi Walters - University of Otago Business School

Building partnerships not silos

How can we integrate business skills to create workable systems that improve health care performance? Otago's Centre for Health Systems and Technology (CHeST) is looking at this issue.

Professor Robin Gauld, University of Otago Business School

Are Kiwis adequately prepared financially for retirement?

NZ Superannuation (NZS) only really covers basic living expenses like food and transport. Private saving efforts are therefore important, especially when NZS only covers roughly 40% of pre-retirement income for a median-income-earner.

Retirement Jar, Otago Business School retirement savings research

How is Big Data and AI transforming the NZ workplace?

There's no doubt the use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence is transforming the work environment, but what is the effect on NZ workplaces, and how should we prepare for a more technological future?

Professor Ralph Adler, University of Otago Business School, COPMM

Dental tourism - The most popular form of medical tourism

People seeking cheaper medical treatment overseas is an ever growing multi-million dollar global industry. Medical tourists are seeking to combine medical treatment with a holiday.

Professor Brent Lovelock

Reframing adventure tourism?

How can outdoor adventure and nature-based experiences be used to engage young people in science subjects as well as promote health and wellbeing? Tourism lecturer Dr Susan Houge Mackenzie wanted to find out.

Susan Houge MacKenzie - Tourism University of Otago

How do companies account for their use of natural resources?

The University of Otago Business School is leading New Zealand research into understanding how companies are accounting for their use of natural resources.

Rakesh Pandey

Improving cultural sensitivity in the tourism industry?

Dr Craig Lee (Tourism) has started to pinpoint the challenges Small and Medium Enterprises (SME's) need to overcome to better engage and be more effective in serving their North Asian markets.

Craig Lee, University of Otago, Department of Tourism

Alcohol and the workplace

Alcohol at social work events may be legal, but there is increasing recognition of the dangers of alcohol consumption at work or at work-related social functions.

Ian McAndrew, University of Otago, Department of Management

How can the Māori perspective be used to shape the scientific world?

That's a question University of Otago Business School researcher Katharina Ruckstuhl and her colleagues are addressing.

Katharina Ruckstuhl, Otago Business School

Just how much of a role should social media play in employee selection?

Employers are increasing using social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn as part of the selection process, to check a potential employee's credentials and assess personality.

Paula O'Kane, University of Otago, Management HRM

What prompts consumers to act sustainably?

While 30 percent want to act more sustainably when they are shopping, only three percent of people are putting their money where their mouth is and making purchasing decisions based on the sustainability of the product.

Professor Ralph Adler

What prompts consumers to act sustainably?

While 30 percent want to act more sustainably when they are shopping, only three percent of people are putting their money where their mouth is and making purchasing decisions based on the sustainability of the product.


Delays in Public Goods

Delays in infrastructure projects can be very costly, but just how they impact on the country's economy has been quantified for the first time by Otago Business School economics researcher Associate Professor Dennis Wesselbaum.

Dennis Wesselbaum

Job satisfaction - not money - is the key to workplace performance

Earning money may be an important reason for working, but it isn't the biggest motivator. Research shows job satisfaction is key to affecting workplace performance.

Nicola Beatson

What makes a good leader?

Good leadership is crucial for business success, but just what makes a good leader, and what does evolution have to do with it? Dr Brian Spisak researches how and why leadership develops in large-scale social networks, blending social and organisational psychology with the study of biological and cultural evolution.

Brain Spisak

The brand personality of rocks

A critical evaluation of a brand personality scale - Can rocks be assigned personalities, and what does this mean – for the rock and for the methods currently being used by marketers?

Shelagh Ferguson

The fizzy drink tax debate

Obesity is a looming problem in New Zealand, and one strategy requiring further community discussion is a tax on fizzy drinks, which New Zealand studies are already showing could potentially prevent around 67 deaths a year.

Murat Genc - University of Otago (Economics)

The complexities of virtual teams

Global virtual teams is an everywhere within international business, but virtuality can be complex when a team is highly culturally diverse, geographically dispersed, working in different time zones and, as is often the case, working to deadlines.

Virginia Cathro

Whale watching – good for them, good for us

Wiebke Finkler is combining her Otago PhD in tourism with a passion for science communication and documentary film-making and hopes her research will help improve sustainable management of whale watching around the world, while increasing public awareness about responsible whale watching practices.

Wiebke Finkler

Entrepreneurial skills just as important for restaurant owners as serving good food

A study by Otago tourism researcher Dr Craig Lee has pinpointed success factors that have shaped some of the top-performing, independent restaurants in Australia, and it's not all about the food.

Craig Lee - Otago Business School - Tourism

Line managers influence wellness of staff

Many organisations assume their HRM policies work and deliver optimum staff performance and therefore productivity to their organisation. Professor Edgar has been exploring the so-called “black box” – the gap that exists between people management and staff performance in the workplace.

Fiona Edgar, Otago Business School

Are investors better off when investing with “superstar” fund managers?

You may think that when a fund manager wins a performance award, the investment fund they manage would fare even better, but University of Otago Business School accountancy and finance researcher Eric Tan has found this isn't necessarily the case.

Eric Tan - Otago Business School - Accountancy & Finance

What constitutes a successful business?

Assoc Prof Ben Wooliscroft believes markets, marketing and society are connected into a networked system that can shape global human welfare as well as economic outcomes. Ben is keen to change the conversation about what constitutes a successful business.

Associate Professor Ben Wooliscroft

Which charities do you support and why?

Do New Zealanders prefer to support charities with a local or global focus? And what reasons do people give for supporting different types of charity? Professor Stephen Knowles is interested in the “landscape” of New Zealand donations.

Professor Stephen Knowles - Otago Business School

ASPIRE2025 - Smokefree New Zealand

2025 is going to be a big year for Otago Business School Marketing Professor Janet Hoek. As co-director of ASPIRE2025, one of the University's Research Themes, Professor Hoek is involved in the national push for a tobacco-free New Zealand by 2025.

Professor Janet Hoek ASPIRE2015

Enjoying the outdoors

Society may have to rethink ways of encouraging children into enjoying the outdoors. Participation in some forms of outdoor recreation is declining and Associate Professor Brent Lovelock believes an increasingly risk-adverse society may be limiting nature-based leisure.

Associate Professor Brent Lovelock - Otago Business School

Lean thinking in the health and the not-for-profit sectors?

Lean thinking is a business improvement approach aimed at removing the activities within key organisational processes which don't add value, and has enormous potential in helping organisations deliver more effective and timely customer service.

Richard Greatbanks

What drives or hinders the commercialisation of research?

Scientists are becoming more entrepreneurial and moving up the innovation chain; they not only have to shape initial research ideas, but they also act as research strategists who source research funds, manage people, and create new products and markets.

Conor O'Kane, Otago Business School

How do we build resilience to natural disasters?

How do we build resilience to natural disasters, and how do we educate people, particularly in vulnerable communities, to cope in an emergency? Research has a very important role in helping to better understand the impact of a devastating natural disaster.

Dr Arlene Ozanne, Otago Business School

The changing relationship between animals and their owners

Pets are increasingly important to New Zealanders, but the relationship between the animals and their owners in New Zealand is changing, and that has implications across many different industries.

Associate Professor Neil Carr, Otago Business School

Tourism - Finding the right balance

Tourism may be vital to New Zealand's economy, but there is a delicate balance between meeting tourist expectations while benefitting the community, maintaining its wellbeing, and staying true to its cultural values.

Anna Thompson, Otago Business School

What is reality really?

Augmented reality is where the view of a physical, real-world environment is augmented or supplemented by overlaid computer-generated visuals. Professor Holger Regenbrecht is using it to challenge the brains of stroke patients to work out what makes reality a reality.

Professor Holger Regenbrecht

How to capture more value from increased tourism?

Professor Juergen Gnoth from the Department of Marketing believes one solution is matching what we have to offer with what the visitor understands; by improving the experience of the tourist, they are then encouraged to lengthen their stay.

Professor Juergen Gnoth

Augmented reality

Imagine being able to point at a particular building or landmark and get all the information attached to it. Tourists for instance could aim their phone at a mountain range to get the names of each peak, or at different parts of a building to get exact information on specific features.

Dr Tobias Langlotz, Otago Business School

Mentoring helps bridge the gap in Accounting sector

Exposing accounting students to real world accounting through mentoring is making a difference for the industry and for students. A student-mentoring programme for accounting majors has been running at the Otago Business School since 2004.

Professor Ralph Adler, Otago Business School

Study finds investors not put off by carbon bubble coverage

Investors in U.S. oil and gas companies are not particularly worried about the effect on the value of their investment following media coverage and concern about a potential carbon asset stock price bubble that could cripple the industry.


Change, Challenge and Choice – a NZ consumer lifestyles study

Otago Business School researchers are providing invaluable information on New Zealand lifestyles after examining a wide range of consumption and lifestyle issues, including food and drink, holidays, transportation, debt, and social and political attitudes.

Dr Leah Watkins, Otago Business School

Carbon-efficient alternatives to flying

Professor James Higham is challenging individuals and organisations to think outside the square and start coming up with more carbon-efficient alternatives to flying for out-of-town work and leisure.

Professor James Higham, Otago Business School

Working mothers and the cost of daycare

"The proportion of women working across the world has increased hugely since the 1960's, yet some things haven't changed - the cost of childcare remains a primary concern for working mothers."

Dr Tarja Viitanen - Otago Business School

Surviving sex scandals

"How do some public leaders survive public scrutiny of indiscretions in their personal lives, while others are forced to resign? Professor Steven Grover is researching issues of behavioral ethics and interpersonal treatment, particularly respect and trust between followers and leaders."

Professor Steven Grover, Otago Business School

Developing a global mindset for New Zealand exporters

"While it's never been easier to reach international markets, there are lots of practicalities for New Zealand exporters to address in their quest to operating globally, and Finland may be able to provide some answers."

Professor Elizabeth Rose - Otago Business School

Trustable Autonomous Systems

"Imagine a future with autonomous systems - self-driving cars, robots, or a smart grid that makes rapid decisions to balance supply and demand in a distributed electrical network. Systems like these are starting to be deployed already, and are likely to become more common."


The critical success factors for southern Māori business

"Dr Diane Ruwhiu is trying to identify the critical success factors of Maori SME's specifically in the Southern region. The project is funded by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE)."

Dr Diane Ruwhiu Otago Business School

The economics of developing countries

"New Zealand may be far from the rest of the world, but to avoid being isolated and insular, it is vital that we understand and participate in world issues. the world is connected and we are part of an international community, therefore it's appropriate we have a global sense of responsibility."

Professor David Fielding, Otago Business School

New Zealand pay ratios

"The worker/Chief Executive pay ratio is changing, and top executives in New Zealand are reaping the benefits. Dr Helen Roberts explores the relationship between CEO compensation, firm performance and corporate governance."

Dr Helen Roberts, Otago Business School

Natural Resource Economics: Dr Viktoria Kahu

“Returns are not just captured in dollar terms; economics objectively measures worth (or utility) from resource in the broadest sense, incorporating recreational and conservation values as well as financial profit.”

Dr Viktoria Kahu - Otago Business School

Future of work, Dunedin

The future is coming whether we're ready or not. Otago Business School management academics have been canvasing business and community leaders on their visions of the future of work, to gauge the extent of local thinking and planning for the years to come.

Future of work study

Alcohol consumption: Dr Kirsten Robertson

“While students do have knowledge of responsible drinking guidelines, many simply don't apply them to their own behaviour.”

Dr Kirsten Robertson - Otago Business School

Energy efficiency: Dr Sara Walton

“Many New Zealand businesses are already taking small quiet steps to measure their carbon footprint and think about energy use.”

Dr Sara Walton - Otago Business School

Software that matters: Dr Stephen Macdonell

“The challenge for software programmers is understanding what goes on in the work place and how businesses can leverage that.”

Dr Stephen MacDonell - Otago Business School

Carbon markets: Professor Ivan Diaz-Rainey

“Pension fund managers take carbon seriously; their investments will change who does well and who does badly on the stock market.”

Dr Ivan Diaz-Rainey - Otago Business School

Developing international markets

How do entrepreneurs make decisions about entering international markets? And what can we learn from New Zealand's most successful high tech exporters? That's something a three-year Marsden funded project is pinning down.

Professor Sylvie Chetty

Deep Capture: Dr Trent Smith

Just how much are consumers being influenced by large industry bodies? A lot more than we realise according to Dr Trent Smith, Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Otago.


Tourism & well-being: Dr Sebastian Filep

“Our research aims to take understanding of consumer behaviour in the tourism industry to a much deeper level than just knowing where visitors go and how much they spend.”

Dr Sebastian Filep - Otago Business School

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