UNE project wins Innovation in Business Research Award

Published 22 November 2010

coc_awardsBernice Kotey, Associate Professor in the University of New England’s School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, received the Armidale Chamber of Commerce Innovation in Business Research Award 2010 during a ceremony held recently at UNE’s CB Newling Building (the old Teachers College).

As lead investigator for the project titled “Innovative Regional Small Businesses and Options for Economic Growth”, Dr Kotey accepted the award in front of a packed auditorium on behalf of her team, which includes researchers Tony Sorensen and Ron Reavell.

“Our project investigated the environment in which small businesses in cotton communities operate and the innovative practices that enabled them to maintain and even grow their businesses during the prolonged drought,” explained Dr Kotey.  “We determined best practices to maintain or grow the small business sector as an another source of income to the dominant agricultural and/or mining sector”.

The project is funded by the Cotton Catchment Communities Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and was undertaken in four stages over the two-year period from 2008 to 2010. UNE is a core partner of the CRC, an industry partnership that aims to provide innovative knowledge to stimulate economic, social and environmental outcomes at farm, regional and national levels.

 In the first stage of Dr Kotey’s project, a socio-economic profile of each cotton community in New South Wales and Queensland was developed. Then, in the second stage, trends and critical factors in the cotton industry and their implications for the future of the industry were ascertained. Six communities – Emerald, Dalby and St George in Queensland and Moree, Warren and Wee Waa in New South Wales – were selected for detailed study in the third stage and the major opportunities and threats facing each were analysed. In the final stage, the innovative practices that business owners and managers employed to survive the drought and, in some cases, grow their businesses were assessed.

The study found that innovation among small businesses in cotton communities is largely influenced by the resources and opportunities available within their communities which, in turn, Dr Kotey said, are dependent on leadership within the communities.

“We concluded that Chambers of Commerce, local councils and small business owners should work together to facilitate environments conducive to small business operation,” said Dr Kotey, who also offers suggestions for how this might be accomplished, such as appointing a development officer to access and provide relevant information to the small business sector and for the Chamber of Commerce to assist small businesses with the pursuit of emerging opportunities.

For more information on the project and its findings, contact Bernice Kotey, tel: 02-6773-2830, email: bkotey@une.edu.au