BTF5001 - Business Regulation and Compliance

Interview with Petra Mahy, Senior Lecturer

Can you tell us a bit about how your teaching is relevant to the United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Management (PRME)?

The unit ‘Business Regulation and Compliance’ (BTF5001) introduces students to various regulatory concepts and theories and examines standard setting and enforcement mechanisms aimed at ensuring business compliance with those standards. These include legal standards, but also ‘softer’ standards and expectations with respect to responsible and sustainable business conduct. We look at traditional forms of state-based regulation and the roles of public regulators alongside the roles and regulatory capacities of other actors including NGOs and lead firms. Students are encouraged to consider the most effective ways of ensuring that business meets legally-prescribed standards and stakeholder expectations, including standards on environmental protection and labour and human rights.

Which Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) your unit addresses and it what ways? Provide examples of learning activities, initiatives and assessment tasks.

Understanding the likely effectiveness of various forms of regulation is relevant to the achievement of all the SDGs. We also address the particular regulatory challenges faced in developing and industrialised countries. This unit uses examples that are especially relevant to #8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), #9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), #11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and #16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions). For example, a discussion activity used early in the unit relates to the design of regulatory strategies to deal with plastic pollution on an imaginary tropical island. Another activity examines the real world example of Volkswagen and its motivations for the use of special software to deceive diesel emissions tests. For their individual research assignments, students may choose their own regulatory system to analyse, and many choose to write on labour or environmental regulation.

Why do you think business students today need to understand more about the role and impact of business in working towards a more sustainable and inclusive local and global economy?

Students need to have the analytical skills to identify where and why particular groups of people experience vulnerability in relation to dominant legal and economic models in use in today’s world. Vulnerable groups range from workers, consumers, shareholders and creditors through to the public at large. Students, of course, often fall within these categories themselves or will do so one day. This unit involves exploring these vulnerabilities and considering how they are addressed by different regulatory systems. The unit is also about how best to shape regulatory interventions – whether state-based or otherwise – to effect positive change in business behaviour. This knowledge will stand them in good stead wherever their careers happen to lead them.

What kind of reception do you get from students when you discuss these types of issues with them?

Students in this unit respond very positively to discussion of business impact and the different strategies that may be used to minimise negative impacts and maximise positive ones.

What would you like to do or see in the future in terms of teaching of responsible management, either in the units you teach or more generally?

We are making plans to develop closer links with major Australian regulators in the future to make the unit more practical and industry-oriented.