Leaders investing for impact

Leader decision-making in investing for impact on boards: An experimental study

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023


Hobart, Launceston

Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Boards of directors regularly invest portions of corporate assets into medium- and long-term financial investments to offset fluctuations in cash flow and support utilisation of current assets. Over time, these directors are under increasing pressure to make effective decisions that support more sustainable outcomes; the decision of which investment vehicles to use is no exception. Despite growing environmental interest, most boards continue to orient more heavily towards traditional investments that offer secure return-on-assets or return-on-investment opportunities over social and environmental investment outcomes (e.g., impact investment funds).

Individual differences on boards – or top management teams – and their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) outcomes. Yet, there remains low translation from relationships established in explanatory studies and experimental conditions. This Project proposes to adopt a randomised control trial using independent measures to identify causal predictors that drive directors towards higher impact investment allocations versus traditional investment allocation. The aim of the study is to identify methods that support higher rates of investment in impact-based investment portfolios. This Project uses top management team theory as a theoretical basis to understand how board leaders engage with investment decision-making. This doctoral project is designed to extend on this initial understanding by leveraging the capabilities of the Tasmanian Behavioural Economics Lab to design decision-making experiments.

The significance of this project is in seeking to drive a causal understanding of how leaders elected to director roles make decisions towards impact investment offerings over traditional financial- and return on asset investments. By doing so, programs that recruit, select, train, and develop board members will be able to draw on experimental knowledge from this study to build more sustainable boards to achieve sustainable growth.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Dan Daugaard


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applications are open to Domestic, International, and Onshore applicants
  • Applications are open to applications from management or finance discipline background only
  • English language score must be above minimum entry requirements for this project
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Academic writing skills to complete a thesis that incorporates publications
  • Social and communication skills required to build connections with Tasmanian and Australian Boards of Directors
  • Advanced knowledge of quantitative research methods, preferably with some experience in experimental methods
  • A willingness to live in Tasmania (including relocation)

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Related industry experience (preferably)

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact A/Prof Dan Daugaard to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 27 March 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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