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Dr Melissa Edwards

Image of Melissa Edwards
Senior Lecturer, Management Discipline Group
Core Member, Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre
Core Member, Centre for Management and Organisation Studies
BA. International Studies (UTS), B.Business (UTS), B.Bus, PhD Management, PhD Thesis
+61 2 9514 3319
Can supervise: Yes

Book Chapters

Schweitzer, J., Edwards, M. & Nikolova, N. 2012, 'Designing Entrepreneurial Work Environments: Exploring Emergent Design Practices' in Schweitzer, J & Jakovich, J (eds), Crowd-Share Innovation: Intensive Creative Collaborations, Freerange Press, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 260-269.
In this paper we aim to outline an approach for fostering entrepreneurial creativity by utilizing design-thinking methodology. We explore designing as a practice driven approach to entrepreneurship that involves iteration and play during problem solving, team divergence, a stimulating and porous space, and entrepreneurial creativity that emerges from interpersonal relations within and between teams of entrepreneurs embedded in open networks.
Onyx, J.A., Bullen, P. & Edwards, M. 2009, 'Social capital: A meta analysis' in Woolcock, G; Manderson, L (eds), Social Capital and Social Justice: Critical Australian Perspectives, Charles Darwin University Press, Darwin NT, pp. 151-168.
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Conference Papers

Pratt, J., Edwards, M., Pitsis, T.S. & Crawford, J.D. 2008, 'Developing collaboration skills in first year undergraduate business students', Quantitative Analysis of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in Business, Economics and Commerce, The University of Melbourne, February 2008 in The Quantitative Analysis of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in Business, Economics and Commerce: Forum Proceedings, ed Davies, M; Draper, S, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 47-58.
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Collaboration skills are defined as the set of skills and capabilities required to work effectively within and across groups to achieve group goals. The development of these skills are assumed but not taught directly or evaluated in undergraduate group assessments in many university subjects. This paper discusses a research project investigating the development of student collaboration skills in the compulsory first year undergraduate subject 21129 Managing People and Organisations. One of the key aims of the subject is to help students understand and acquire a range of collaboration skills that will enhance their work readiness. During August 2008, 290 student surveys were completed by students after their initial formation into groups during tutorials. These surveys asked students about their past experiences of group work, and their expectations and motivations with respect to group work in this subject over the coming semester. A follow-up survey was conducted in November, and attempts to capture the extent of changes, if any, in student perceptions of their experience developing collaboration skills over the semester. This paper reports on the findings of stage one of this project. An overview of student attitudes and perceptions is presented, as well as findings on the systematic variation of these with respondent characteristics. The finding of a number of statistically significant associations of student satisfaction with the method of group formation employed in tutorials is then discussed as a surprise finding from this research.
Perey, R., Dunphy, D.C., Edwards, M. & Benn, S.H. 2007, 'Landcare and the livelihood of knowledge', Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference, Sydney, Australia, December 2007 in Proceedings of the 21st ANZAM 2007 Conference: Managing Our Intellectual and Social Capital, ed Chapman, R., ANZAM, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-17.
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This paper explores how communities generate effective ecological solutions using both implicit narrative construction and explicit processes of knowledge creation and knowledge application. We argue that the act of developing a narrative frames our understanding of the environment and governs our relationship with our environment. We identify micro-narratives extracted from the interviews with members of Australian Landcare organizations and link these micro-narratives to knowledge creation and dissemination processes. We conclude that social change toward sustainability comes about through the rewriting of the environmental story within which we situate ourselves.
Edwards, M. 2006, 'Un-ordered organisation: exploring processes in an emergent social movement', Conference of Australia and New Zealand Third Sector Research, Adelaide, Australia, November 2006 in Navigating New Waters: Eighth Biennial Conference of Australia and New Zealand Third Sector Research, ed Baulderstone, J, ANZTSR Secretariat, Penrith, Australia, pp. 1-23.
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Edwards, M. & Benn, S.H. 2006, 'Emergence, complexity and sustainability: a study of the `sub-political arena'', Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference, Yeppoon, Australia, December 2006 in Management: Pragmatism, Philosophy, Priorities - Proceedings of the 20th ANZAM Conference, ed Kennedy, J; Di Milia, L, ANZAM, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-17.
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Edwards, M. & Onyx, J.A. 2002, 'Inter-sectorial engagement: multiplexing between business and nonprofit organisations in Australia', Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference, Victoria, Australia, December 2002 in Refereed Proceedings of the ANZAM2002 Conference - Enhancing Business and Government Capabilities: Research, Knowledge and Practice, ed Bennington L, ANZAM, Sydney, pp. 1-9.
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Journal Articles

Benn, S.H., Edwards, M. & Angus-Leppan, T. 2013, 'Organizational Learning And The Sustainability Community Of Practice: The Role Of Boundary Objects', Organization & Environment, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 184-202.
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This article aims to explore factors that influence organizational learning around sustainability. For our theoretical framework, we take a sensemaking approach to the multilevel 4I model of organizational learning. Through our pilot study of the case of the higher education sector in Australia, we explore the particular challenges that sustainability poses in terms of integrating new ideas at the group and organizational levels. Our findings suggest that the use of knowledge sharing and generation tools in the form of selected boundary objects can promote the development of communities of practice and hence those integration and institutionalization processes described by the 4I framework when it is applied to sustainability. In specifically allowing for knowledge development and transfer across knowledge and disciplinary boundaries, our revised version of the 4I model has wide relevance to learning around sustainability in any organizational context
Edwards, M., Burridge, N. & Yerbury, H. 2013, 'Translating Public Policy: Enhancing the Applicability of Social Impact Techniques for Grassroots Community Groups', Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 29-44.
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This paper reports on an exploratory action research study designed to understand how grassroots community organisations engage in the measurement and reporting of social impact and how they demonstrate their social impact to local government funders. Our findings suggest that the relationships between small non-profit organisations, the communities they serve or represent and their funders are increasingly driven from the top down formalised practices. Volunteer-run grassroots organisations can be marginalized in this process. Members may lack awareness of funders+ strategic approaches or the formalized auditing and control requirements of funders mean grassroots organisations lose capacity to define their programs and projects. We conclude that, to help counter this trend, tools and techniques which open up possibilities for dialogue between those holding power and those seeking support are essential
Edwards, M. & Baker, E. 2013, 'Construction in Human Interaction Dynamics: Organizing Mechanisms, Strategic Ambiguity and Interpretive Dominance', Emergence: Complexity and Organization, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 21-36.
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In this paper, we extend the understanding of human interaction dynamics by examining three case studies of social-action-networks whose purpose was to achieve collective action on a complex social or environmental issue. Our research questions were +How do the organizing mechanisms of fine grained interactions construct emergent order?+ and +Why do influencing strategies enable diffuse networks to emerge into discernible collective action?+ The studies provided information about the fine-grained interactions as well as the coarse-grained properties that emerged. At the fine-grained level, there was a dynamic tension between structured and formalized organizing mechanisms aimed at organization and those that actively permitted (dis)organization. Network strategic intent was coherent at the coarse-grained level and varied between a clearly defined strategy and strategic ambiguity. We examine these empirical findings in relation to recent literature on constructing forces, strategic ambiguity and interpretive dominance
Edwards, M., Onyx, J.A., Maxwell, H. & Darcy, S.A. 2012, 'Meso level Social Impact: Meaningful Indicators of Community Contribution', Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 18-37.
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Social impact measures are not widely agreed, nor implemented by third sector organisations. Meso level indicators of social impact are underdeveloped. Financialised methods such as Social Return on Investment can only account for direct outcomes of defined programs and activities. The broader societal impacts of any such activities are undervalued. This paper outlines the findings of a grounded theoretical approach to determining measures of social impact within a large Australian iconic third sector organisation. Several key factors revealed in this study are discussed in regards to their potential for attributing social impact to organisational activities outside of a program specific outcome. Based on these findings the paper concludes that the development of a tool to measure meso level organisational social impact of third sector organisations may be attainable.
Ho, C., Onyx, J.A., Edwards, M., Burridge, N., Yerbury, H. 2011, 'Scaling Up Connections: Everyday Cosmopolitanism, Complexity Theory & Social Capital', Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 47-67.
One of the key questions of contemporary society is how to foster and develop social interactions which will lead to a strong and inclusive society, one which accounts for the diversity inherent in local communities, whether that diversity be based on differences in interest or diversity in language and culture. The purpose of this paper is to examine three concepts which are used in the exploration of social interactions to suggest ways in which the interplay of these concepts might provide a richer understanding of social interactions. The three concepts are everyday cosmopolitanism, complexity theory and social capital. Each provides a partial approach to explanations of social interactions. Through focussing on social networking as a significant example of social interactions, we will demonstrate how the concepts can be linked and this linking brings potential for a clearer understanding of the processes through which this inclusive society may develop.
Baker, E., Onyx, J.A. & Edwards, M. 2011, 'Emergence, Social Capital And Entrepreneurship: Understanding Networks From The Inside', Emergence: Complexity and Organization, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 21-39.
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Communities are a major research context for both social capital and entrepreneurship, and 'networks' is a core concept within both frameworks. There is need for conceptualizing network formation processes, and for qualitative studies of the relational aspects of networks and networking, to complement the existing mainly quantitative studies. Within complexity theory, emergence has been linked with formation of entities including networks, and with social entrepreneurship. In this paper, community networks are interpreted as an emergent dynamic process of action and interaction through an empirical case study conducted in an urban community setting. Interviews were conducted with experiential experts at networking. The study was designed within a social capital framework, but frequent reporting of entrepreneurship prompted additional analysis. Practical and theoretical implications of the network study findings are examined in light of the three frameworks together, and further empirical studies are suggested.
Onyx, J.A. & Edwards, M. 2010, 'Community Networks and the nature of emergence in civil society.', Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 1-20.
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this paper challenges the limitations of extant knowledge of social formation by its focus on the ordinary, everyday lived reality of maintaining community and on identifying its operations from the internal perspective of civil society. We aim to explore the actual mobilising processes and structures that underpin the formation of social capital in the community. We examine how networks emerge and operate.
dela Rama, M.J., Edwards, M., Dalton, B.M. & Green, J. 2010, 'Honourable Intentions? Analysing the interests of private equity in the aged care sector', Third Sector Review, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 63-82.
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The Australian aged care industry was once dominated by non-profit organisations but recently ownership has changed significantly with the entry of for profit and in particular private equity investment vehicles. This paper provides an overview of the main players and the effects of private equity on the Australian aged care sector. The analysis is framed within the literature which examines the relationship between ownership type and the quality of community services. It also presents a series of case studies which suggest that a change of ownership from non-profit to private equity may have significant consequences for the quality of service provision.
Edwards, M. & Onyx, J.A. 2007, 'Social capital and sustainability in a community under threat', Local Environment, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 17-30.
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Engaging with dialogue concerning the relevance and applicability of social capital to a model of sustainable community development, we illustrate an in-depth case of a community experiencing an ideological clash with the dominant politico-societal structures. We argue that while the exclusivity of bonding social capital has been described as the `dark side+, it may be essential for progressive sustainable community development (PSCD). When faced with a development threat, such bonds are essential for building links, bridges and solidarity, enabling cultural reproduction and promoting environmental protection for sustainability
Onyx, J.A., Edwards, M. & Bullen, P. 2007, 'The Intersection of Social Capital and Power: An application to Rural Communities', Rural Society Journal, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 215-230.
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The central aim of the article is to examine the relationship between power and social capital within the cultural, historical and spatial contingencies of three rural communities in Australia. These communities are West Wyalong NSW, Broken Hill NSW and Maleny Qld. Each has variously experienced the threats of deindustrialisation, revitalisation, and commercial development pressures (Beaver and Cohen, 2004). To understand how these communities have addressed their circumstances we examine each in turn within the overriding analytical framework of social capital. We find that social capital is used in different ways in each community. The article is prefaced by an exploration of the core theoretical concepts: Social capital, bonding bridging and linking and power, followed by a brief analysis of each of the three cases.
Edwards, M. & Onyx, J.A. 2003, 'Business and nonprofit relationships in Australia: promiscuous or monogamous?', Third Sector Review, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 99-117.
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Burridge, N., Edwards, M. & Yerbury, H. 2012, 'What you do Matters: Demostrate your Community Impact', pp. 1-30.
A 'tool kit' for small grass roots organisations seeking to report their social impact to their funding organisations
dela Rama, M.J., Edwards, M. & Dalton, B.M. 2008, 'Submission No. 14 to the Australian Senate Community Affairs Committee on the Inquiry into the the Aged Care Amendment (2008) Measures No. 2 Bill', Australian Parliament House, Canberra, Australia, pp. 1-12.
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With two other School of Management colleagues, Melissa Edwards and Bronwen Dalton, we made this submission into the following Community Affairs Committee Inquiry. This submission was later cited by Ian Verrender, a Sydney Morning Herald journalist in his business column "Profit Not Improvement", 29th November 2008 http://business.smh.com.au/business/profit-not-improvement-the-motive-for-many-in-care-sector-20081128-6mz2.html