Research projects

Research conducted by the entrepreneurship team is focused on having real-world impact on people’s lives. We partner with top tier organisations, both for profit and not-for-profit that share this vision.

From Concept to Commercial Capability Optimisation

‘Business acumen’, perceived as the skills and knowledge underpinning business capabilities, presents an undeniably essential possession for managers. Business acumen (BA) is seen to play a vital role in both managerial and organisational success and is frequently claimed as a key competency for effective and successful leaders. Translating research and development (R&D) innovations into commercial outcomes through improved BA is a leading priority of most advanced and emerging nations.

Australia’s current innovation and competitiveness performance however is far from excellent; Australia ranks 23 out of 26 OECD countries for businesses collaborating on innovation, ranks last out of 30 OECD nations for business-research collaborations, and 81 out of 143 countries on effective returns on research. For a nation endowed with a highly skilled workforce that seeks to position itself at the forefront of knowledge-based creative economies, this level of performance underpins the need to enhance the ‘translation capabilities’ of individuals and organisations in transforming innovation into commercial outcomes.

Project Aims

The purpose of this study is to define, measure and test Business Acumen, establishing a theoretical context to investigate how business acumen can be assessed and improved in realising more optimal innovation and performance outcomes in globally significant key growth sectors. The study has five specific aims.

The first aim is to define Business Acumen (BA) so that a common understanding of the phenomenon can be established.

The second aim is to develop a conceptual model of BA to be empirically tested.

The third aim, is to deploy the BA Gauge to systematically analyse current capabilities, systems, practices and strategies used in firms engaged in globally significant key growth sectors.

The fourth aim is the development and provision of a BA ‘toolbox’ that will facilitate real time responses to assessment results using the BA Gauge.

The fifth aim is theory development of the business acumen concept thus enhancing the utility of the study outcomes beyond current commercial activities into training and development of the leaders and managers of the future.

Research shows that asking people to improve their lives results in individuals taking one set of actions while asking people to prevent a disaster will produce another set of actions  – i.e., individuals think of loss and gain fundamentally differently.  However, as we look at institutional intermediaries (institutional intermediaries bridge entities such as state with private‐sector entrepreneurs or individuals) there is a predominant focus only on improvement. Thus, as we think of poverty, institutional intermediaries typically focus on how individuals take actions to improve their lives such as improving daily income from $2 a day to $3 a day. The negative impact is not typically addressed.

However, global warming offers a chance to study how institutional intermediaries address negative impacts as it is a slow train wreck.  We expect that the tactics that the institutional intermediaries will have to employ in the negative setting of global warming will be substantially different than in positive/improvement efforts.

Global warming can represent both an opportunity/gain or a challenge/loss for institutional intermediaries – double edge swords always exist.  We are not expecting to find many intermediaries that focus on global warming opportunity/gain. But instead, this research focuses on global warming as a negative and identifies the tactics that are different.  We will contrast these groups dealing with the negative of global warming to what we know about the positive opportunity/gain tactics from the prior literature.

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