Developing business research studies at Curtin Sarawak

by Yeo Tze Sheng

In today’s world, the ability to incorporate innovation in their operations has become increasingly important for firms in an ever-changing business environment. Indeed, firms which are able to adopt more efficient business practices can expect to be reasonably better positioned to gain an advantage in their respective markets.

As Malaysia strives towards building a knowledge economy, the importance of innovation is ever more crucial for firms to remain competitive and productive.

Business research studies showcased at Open Day Innovation Expo

At Curtin Sarawak’s recent Open Day on 14 September 2013, Curtin Sarawak’s School of Business participated in the Innovation Expo, showcasing the research expertise of staff in the school.

Among others, visitors to the Expo read about the benefits of using activity-based costing (ABC), a costing model studied by the Head of Department for the Department of Accounting, Dr. Anbalagan Krishnan.

The implementation of ABC allows actual costs of production to be better measured. As products are priced more accurately, ABC also helps organisations increase their profit margins and efficiently allocate the cost to consumers.

In due course, as ABC is being increasingly adopted by private companies as well as some public organisations, firms have been able to produce better costing results compared to those that continue to use the traditional costing system.

Visitors also learned about a talent management model adapted for the local context being developed by Dr. Lew Tek Yew. Dr Lew’s area of expertise is in examining factors influencing the process of attracting, developing, motivating, recognising and retaining talents in organisations.

This body of knowledge on talent management investigates the influence of HR practices such as  pay level satisfaction, career development opportunities, work-family support, performance management practices, training and development; perceived organisational support, and mediating variables, such as felt obligation, trust in management, professional commitment and employees’ engagement on some focal variables, namely organisational commitment, turnover intention and productivity.

Talent management is the most popular and cited buzzword in contemporary human resource management literature as well as in the business community and thus, it presents an exciting area for future research.

Also on display on the day was Dr. Pauline Ho’s work on corporate governance, voluntary disclosure and environmental sustainability, which was another highlight of the exhibition.

As global environmental awareness grows, the attention firms pay towards environmental sensitivity is being increasingly scrutinised.

In addition to her other works linking corporate governance and voluntary disclosure practices, Dr. Ho’s research on environmental sustainability looks at how firms can address this element of strategy through improved corporate social reporting as a mechanism to discharge duties of accountability.

Being one of the first academics to join Curtin Sarawak, Dr. Ho continues to successfully receive research grants to carry out her research and funding research students to widen the body of knowledge in the subject area.

Moreover, the Innovation Expo highlighted how research at the School of Business can be of interest, not only for local firms, but for multinational firms as well.

For instance, Dr. Siti Rohani Md. Yusof’s studies on institutional barriers to the transfer of best management practices can aid firms in designing strategies to address issues faced by organisations when adopting management practices in an international setting.

Dr Siti’s experience, both in academia and industry, also allows her to contribute in human resource management consulting, especially in the areas of organisational change and transformation, performance management, leadership development.

Burgeoning research activity at the School of Business

Indeed, research activity in the school is starting to gain momentum. Among ongoing or recently completed works at the school include Dr. Dhanuskodi Rengasamy’s current research on the effect of debt financing on the asset usage of selected cement manufacturing companies listed in the stock exchange, as well as his other studies examining the impact of leverage ratios on earnings per share (EPS) in selected companies.

Fayrene Chieng’s research on transport sustainability in the Klang Valley through a research grant from the East Asian Development Fund is also a notable development.

According to Associate Dean of Research and Development at the School of Business Dr. Alan Downe, Curtin Sarawak is well positioned to become a leader in business research within East Malaysia. He said research has taken on such an important priority for universities throughout the country and the university has made a concerted effort to build their resources and capacity to undertake studies that have theoretical, applied and regional importance.

Dr. Downe also emphasised the importance of university-industry linkage in reaching Curtin’s research goals.

“We realise that that we must forge closer working relationships with the private sector not only at the regional level, but at both the national and international level as well. We are hoping to be able to partner with businesses throughout Sarawak, and beyond, in carrying out research that is relevant to their needs to build competitive advantage.”

With the launch of the Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) programme, parties interested in deepening their understanding in fields related to these research areas now have the opportunity to work with academics in their chosen fields of interest.

Alternatively, business owners who would like to seek to transfer knowledge from the academic world to their firms can explore opportunities for collaboration through the consultancy services being offered by Curtin Sarawak.

Interested parties, including students, industries and researchers, who are keen to study, support and/or collaborate in these research areas are encouraged to contact Associate Professor Dr. Alan Downe at +60 85 443942) or Alternatively, enquiries can be forwarded to, or by calling +60 85 44 3939.

Yeo Tze Sheng is an associate lecturer in economics and finance at the School of Business at Curtin Sarawak. He can be contacted at +60 85 443 939 ext. 5070or by e-mail to