Research Projects

Regulation and Social Capital

Why is regulation associated with domination? Why do people see regulation as a cost or burden? Why isn’t regulation something that we want to understand and value, seeing it as useful social scaffolding for improving quality of life? The broad aim of this project is to assemble empirical evidence to explain why we often waver in our trust and confidence in regulatory systems and to consider what is needed to improve regulatory effectiveness and to establish respectful relations with communities. The proposed project examines the relationships that regulators have with regulatory communities in eight domains: higher education, work safety, child protection, taxation, environmental protection, charitable organizations, employment equity, and financial planning), comparing the regimes in terms of how disconnected they have become from communities, and exploring how we might engage in conversations to reconnect them with the people they serve. 

Trust and Hope in the Democracy Project

This project examines the role of trust and hope in governance. The central hypothesis is that trust and hope build social capacity and enable cooperation. At the heart of the project is motivational posturing theory. Motivational posturing theory explains responses to government authority of disengagement, game playing, resistance, capitulation and commitment as ways of dealing with the sacrifice of individual freedom. Between 1999 and 2005, these issues were addressed within the context of taxation: What makes people accept the obligation to pay tax even when it is possible to evade or avoid payment? ( More recently, a series of surveys have been conducted to examine the ways in which citizens posture to government and government postures to citizens (

School and Workplace Bullying Prevention Projects

These projects have been undertaken in collaboration with Eliza Ahmed, Brenda Morrison, Helene Shin and Jacqueline Homel. 

Capacity Building in Child Protection Project

This project has been supported by an ARC Linkage grant with Nathan Harris, Dorothy Scott, Morag McArthur and the ACT Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services. The overall objective is to demonstrate how safety for children can be improved and care capacity in the child's local community can be more effectively harnessed through a responsive regulatory approach.

Tax System Integrity Project

Taxation has been cocooned for too long as an inevitable and resented instrumentality of government. Australians are acutely aware of what tax dollars deliver. They also are very clear about how government should spend taxpayers' money and are not unwilling or unable to reflect on community interests. When confidence is lost in the system, however, taxpayers bow out of being a collective player and disengage. Resources permitting, disillusionment may turn into game playing in an attempt to beat the system at its own game. A thriving financial planning industry is able to push game playing along, giving tax defiance a safer avenue for expression. These are among the main findings of the Centre for Tax System Integrity (CTSI), funded from 1999-2005 by an ANU-ATO research partnership. Tax publications continue to appear on the Centre's website