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Bernard Mees

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Bernard Mees

Academic

Room 313, Centenary Building, Sandy Bay Campus

Super superfunds

With each pay check, Australian’s notice a small portion of their earnings put aside, paid into a superannuation fund that is rarely thought about or looked into. As Australia’s aging population continues to grow, more and more people are approaching retirement, ready to cash in on their hard-earned superannuation. Despite contributing to for decades, understanding what has been happening to their money and who has been handling it remains a mystery for most, but Dr Bernard Mees has been paying close attention- and for good reason.

Hundreds of superannuation funds operate within Australia and with more than 2.5 trillion dollars in superannuation assets, Australia has the fourth largest retirement-savings pool in the world. The way in which these funds are managed, and the type of involvement trade unions have with these funds, make an enormous difference to the financing of a person’s retirement.

Societal impacts

Researching superannuation funds in Australia and financialization, or the process by which financial institutions and markets increase in size and influence, Dr Mees is looking beyond the number crunching and financial aspects. He is taking a deeper dive to uncover the societal impacts superannuation funds have.

Dr Mees is a pioneer in the research of the societal impacts of how superannuation funds are run. He is looking intensely at the impact of trade unions and their involvement with funds, discovering a huge shift in the way social and political change occurs.

Noticing an increase in activist funds, shareholders are demanding that corporate governance changes. From issues ranging from gender equality, climate change and salary fairness, radical changes are being seen across the political and social spectrum from this pressure.

“We’ve seen examples where there’s been pressure put on companies to align CEO’s exorbitant salaries with their scale and performance of work. This helps shareholders and members of superannuation funds see better returns and also leads to more confidence in businesses as there are less and less financial scandals being reported.”

An evolving environment

While these changes are occurring rapidly, Dr Mees wants to know how the superannuation system and its processes hold up compared to other retirement income arrangements internationally.

Dr Mees is a part of an international research team comparing funds in the United States, Canada and in Europe.

“We’re only at the beginning of this movement where we’re seeing a shift in corporate governance being dominated by shareholders in Australia.

“We’re seeing different patterns in different parts of the world, but part of my research is to uncover the why, best practices and establish a discipline. It’s an exciting time to be a researcher in this field as it’s a constantly changing environment.”

Looking to the future

Having published a book last year covering the history of Australia’s superannuation industry, Dr Mees’ curiosity only continues to grow.

“This field of research demands that you’re up to date with current trends. Referencing issues that are happening now allows for concrete examples that link back to a student’s studies.”

While the finance industry is often cast in a negative light, through his research Dr Mees says it’s great to see there are people out there working to make a positive difference.

Having interviewed some of the top executives at Australia’s biggest funds, Dr Mees has found that there are people out there who are dedicated to getting the best outcomes for their shareholders.

“Environments are beginning to shift and it’s an area of finance where people are making an effort to create significant change.”

Bernard Mees is an Associate Professor of Management in the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics.

Biography

Before joining the University of Tasmania, Bernard was a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for People, Organisations and Work at RMIT University, and prior to that was a research fellow in the Centre for Corporate Law and Securities Regulation at the University of Melbourne. His industry background is in finance and he has held visiting positions at the University of Cambridge and Monash University.

Career summary

Qualifications

DegreeUniversityCountry Date of award
BA(Hons)University of MelbourneAustralia1994
MAUniversity of MelbourneAustralia1997
PhDUniversity of MelbourneAustralia2002
DipEdUniversity of MelbourneAustralia2006

Memberships

Professional practice

  • Secretary of the Academic Association of Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools

Administrative expertise

  • Member of RMIT Academic Board (2005-10)
  • RMIT Research Integrity Advisor (2013-17)

Teaching

Management, Human Resources Management, Employment Relations, Business ethics, corporate governance

Teaching expertise

Management, corporate governance

Teaching responsibility

Research Appointments

  • Research fellow, Centre for Corporate Regulation and Securities Law, University of Melbourne
  • Senior Lecturer, Centre for People, Organisations and Work, RMIT University

View more on Dr Bernard Mees in WARP

Expertise

  • Research fellow, Centre for Corporate Regulation and Securities Law, University of Melbourne
  • Senior Lecturer, Centre for People, Organisations and Work, RMIT University

Research Themes

Bernard’s research aligns to the University’s research theme of Environment, Resources and Sustainability. His research interests include understanding the governance of superannuation funds, the development of discourses of business ethics and the influence of financialisation on the political economy.

Current projects

  • The rise of business ethics.

Fields of Research

  • Industrial Relations (150306)
  • Corporate Governance and Stakeholder Engagement (150303)
  • Rural Sociology (160804)
  • Financial Institutions (incl. Banking) (150203)
  • Organisation and Management Theory (150310)
  • Human Resources Management (150305)
  • Business and Labour History (220201)
  • Public Policy (160510)
  • Business Ethics (220102)
  • Communication Studies (200101)
  • Corporations and Associations Law (180109)

Research Objectives

  • Superannuation and Insurance Services (900103)
  • Structure, Delivery and Financing of Community Services (940117)
  • Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services (970115)
  • Industrial Relations (910401)
  • Business Ethics (950402)
  • Air Force (810101)
  • Comparative Structure and Development of Community Services (940107)
  • Natural Hazards in Forest and Woodlands Environments (961004)
  • Management (910402)
  • Human Capital Issues (910202)
  • Law Enforcement (940404)
  • Finance Services (900101)

Publications

Bernard’s most recent book is Workers’ Capital (Allen & Unwin, 2017), an analysis of the industry superannuation funds.

Total publications

33

Highlighted publications

(1 outputs)
YearTypeCitationAltmetrics
2017BookMees B, Brigden C, 'Worker's capital: Industry funds and the fight for universal superannuation in Australia', Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, pp. 288. ISBN 9781760295523 (2017) [Authored Research Book]

[eCite] [Details]

Journal Article

(14 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2019Mees B, Smith SA, 'Corporate governance reform in Australia: a new institutional approach', British Journal of Management, 30, (1) pp. 75-89. ISSN 1045-3172 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/1467-8551.12298 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1

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2018Mees B, 'Employee representation and pension fund governance in Australia', Economic and Industrial Democracy pp. 1-17. ISSN 0143-831X (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1177/0143831X17752265 [eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2017Fry S, Mees B, 'Two discursive frameworks concerning ideology in Australian industrial relations', Economic and Labour Relations Review, 28, (4) pp. 483-499. ISSN 1035-3046 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1177/1035304617739505 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1

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2017Mees B, 'Industrial democracy and corporate governance: two discourses of reform in liberal-market economies', International Journal of Corporate Governance, 8, (1) pp. 44-60. ISSN 1754-3037 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1504/IJCG.2017.10006089 [eCite] [Details]

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2017Mees B, 'Organizational mimesis and the emergence of industry superannuation in Australia', Journal of Management History, 23, (3) pp. 241-258. ISSN 1751-1348 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1108/JMH-03-2017-0013 [eCite] [Details]

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2017Mees B, Paul A, 'Industry superannuation funds: A new kind of mutual', Labour History, 112 pp. 25-43. ISSN 0023-6942 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.5263/labourhistory.112.0025 [eCite] [Details]

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2016Akama Y, Cooper V, Mees B, 'Beyond transmission: An analysis of communication frameworks in Australian bushfire preparedness', International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, 7, (1) pp. 49-62. ISSN 1759-5908 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1108/IJDRBE-08-2013-0034 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1

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2016Fry S, Mees B, 'Industrial relations in Asian socialist-transition economies: China, Vietnam and Laos', Post-Communist Economies, 28, (4) pp. 449-467. ISSN 1463-1377 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/14631377.2016.1225450 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 2Web of Science - 1

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2016Mees B, McMurray A, Chhetri P, 'Organisational resilience and emergency management', The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 31, (2) pp. 38-43. ISSN 1324-1540 (2016) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 1

2016Rachman M, Mees B, Fry S, 'The influence of Indonesian national and military organisational culture on safety management systems', Journal of Safety Studies, 2, (2) pp. 116-128. ISSN 2377-3219 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.5296/jss.v2i2.10445 [eCite] [Details]

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2015Mees B, 'Corporate governance as a reform movement', Journal of Management History, 21, (2) pp. 194-209. ISSN 1751-1348 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1108/JMH-01-2014-0015 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 4

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2014Fry S, Mees B, 'Culture as grand theory in East Asian employment relations', Asia Pacific Business Review, 20, (4) pp. 603-617. ISSN 1360-2381 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/13602381.2014.892767 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 2

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2013Fairbrother P, Tyler M, Hart A, Mees B, Phillips R, et al., 'Creating 'Community'? Preparing for Bushfire in Rural Victoria', Rural Sociology, 78, (2) pp. 186-209. ISSN 0036-0112 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/ruso.12006 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 12Web of Science - 12

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2013Funari R, Mees B, 'Socialist emulation in China: worker heroes yesterday and today', Labor History, 54, (3) pp. 240-255. ISSN 0023-656X (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/0023656X.2013.804269 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 2

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Book

(1 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2017Mees B, Brigden C, 'Worker's capital: Industry funds and the fight for universal superannuation in Australia', Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, pp. 288. ISBN 9781760295523 (2017) [Authored Research Book]

[eCite] [Details]

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Chapter in Book

(8 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2019Fairbrother P, Mees B, Phillips R, Tyler M, 'Concepts of Community', Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Routledge, P Fairbrother and M Tyler (ed), New York, pp. 17-32. ISBN 9781138370203 (2019) [Research Book Chapter]

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2019Fairbrother P, Mees B, Phillips R, Tyler M, 'Cohesion and Complexity: The State, Community and Communities', Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Routledge, P Fairbrother and M Tyler (ed), New York, pp. 33-54. ISBN 9781138370203 (2019) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

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2019Toh K, Mees B, Akama Y, Cooper V, Phillips R, 'Engaging Communities: What Happens Behind the Scenes', Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Routledge, P Fairbrother and M Tyler (ed), New York, pp. 110-126. ISBN 9781138370203 (2019) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

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2019Tyler M, Mees B, Fairbrother P, 'Wildfire Safety, Communication and Diversity', Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Routledge, P Fairbrother and M Tyler (ed), New York, pp. 127-144. ISBN 9781138370203 (2019) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

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2018Mees B, 'The history of business ethics', The Routledge Companion to Business Ethics, Routledge, E Heath, B Kaldis, and A Marcoux (ed), New York, pp. 7-22. ISBN 9781138789562 (2018) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

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2017Mees B, 'Financialization and the stewardship of workers' capital in Australia', The Contradictions of Pension Fund Capitalism, Labor and Employment Relations Association, K Skerrett, C Roberts, J Weststar, and S Archer (ed), Champaign, pp. 55-78. ISBN 978-0-913447-14-7 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

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2017Mees B, 'Changing approaches to business ethics', The Routledge Companion to Business History, Routledge, J Wilson, S Toms, A de Jong, and E Buchnea (ed), New York, pp. 373-382. ISBN 9780415855563 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

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2013Mees B, 'Mind, Method, and Motion: Frank and Lillian Gilbreth', The Oxford Handbook of Management Theorists, Oxford University Press, M Witzel and M Warner (ed), Oxford, pp. 32-48. ISBN 9780199585762 (2013) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199585762.013.0003 [eCite] [Details]

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Conference Publication

(1 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2016Mees BT, 'The Australasia', Globalisation, Entrepreneurship and the South Pacific: Reframing Australian Colonial Architecture, 1800-1850, 17-18 October, Melbourne, pp. 32-37. ISBN 978-1-922016-35-5 (2016) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

DOI: 10.17613/M6DZ5D [eCite] [Details]

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Contract Report, Consultant's Report

(1 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2014Fairbrother P, Mees BT, Tyler M, Phillips R, Akama Y, et al., 'Effective Communication: Communities and Bushfire', CRC, Australia (2014) [Contract Report]

[eCite] [Details]

Other Public Output

(8 outputs)
YearCitationAltmetrics
2019Mees B, 'Superannuation funds are continuing to wine and dine companies', Australian Banking Daily, Schwartz Media, VIC, Australia, 25 March 2018 (2019) [Media Interview]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2019Mees BT, 'The 'sole purpose test': interview with Rod Myer', The New Daily, The New Daily, VIC, Australia, 29 March 2019 (2019) [Media Interview]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2019Mees BT, 'There's a clear winner in the super wars: Interview with Joanna Mather and Aleks Vickovich', Financial Review, The Australian Financial Review, Australia, 1 November (2019) [Media Interview]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2017Mees BT, 'Workers' capital: Interview in History in the Making', Supertalk, Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees, Australia, July (2017) [Magazine Article]

[eCite] [Details]

2016Mees B, 'Electricity infrastructure like Ausgrid is a safe bet for super funds', The Conversation, The Conversation Media Group Ltd, Australia, 27 September (2016) [Magazine Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2016Mees BT, 'Fact check: Can ASIC do the same job as a financial industry royal commission?', ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia, 9 June (2016) [Media Interview]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2015Mees B, 'There's more to super fund HESTA's divestment than ethics', The Conversation, Australia, 26 August (2015) [Magazine Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

2015Mees BT, 'Industry super funds saved from US-style ideology', The Conversation, Australia, 2 December (2015) [Magazine Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Tweet

Grants & Funding

Bernard was a CI on the three-year project ‘Effective Communication – Communities and Bushfire’ funded by the Bushfire CRC (2010-13) and the manager of the three-year project ‘Workers Capital’ funded by Industry Super Holdings (2014-16).

Funding Summary

Number of grants

3

Total funding

$983,000

Projects

Developing a Culture of Commitment and Engagement (2014)$3,000
Funding
RMIT College of Business ($3,000)
Scheme
Industry Partnership Grant
Administered By
RMIT
Research Team
McMurray A; Mees B; Chhetri Prem
Year
2014
Worker's Capital (2014 - 2015)$200,000
Funding
Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees ($200,000)
Scheme
Industry Grant
Administered By
RMIT
Research Team
Mees BT; Brigden C
Period
2014 - 2015
Effective Communication - Communities and Bushfire (2010 - 2012)$780,000
Funding
Bushfire CRC ($780,000)
Scheme
CRC Grant
Administered By
RMIT
Research Team
Fairbrother P; Fien John; Mees BT; Akama Y; Toh K; Tyler M
Period
2010 - 2012

Bernard’s most recent PhD completions include a study of bushfire governance in Victoria and an assessment of safety culture in the Indonesian armed forces.