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Su Fei Tan

Biography

Su Fei Tan is a Senior Research Officer with the UTS Centre for Local Government. A committed and hard working professional with more than 10 years’ experience of research and capacity building for local government, Su Fei’s areas of interest and expertise include local democracy and representation, environmental sustainability, strategic planning, and supporting local government in developing countries.  These are complemented by a wide range of skills and experience in project management, editing and research.

With extensive experience in research on issues of inequity, environmental sustainability and democratic representation, Su Fei has carried out work to understand community understanding of sustainability and natural resource management and worked with community based organisations to identify strategies achieve identified objectives with regard to sustainability.  This involved extensive field work including surveys and interviews with a wide range of stakeholders including policy makers and local opinion leaders.   

Su Fei is currently leading a project to understand better the motivations of local government councillors and their perceptions of democratic representation.  This work involves an extensive review of literature and legislation together with focus groups and key stakeholder interviews as well as a national survey of locally elected members.

Professional

  • Co-editor Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance
Lecturer, lnstitute for Public Policy and Governance
BA, MA UEA
 
Phone
+61 2 9514 1061

Research Interests

Current areas of research include:

  • Local representation and democracy in Australian Local Government:  examining the role of locally elected members
  • Local government reform processes
  • Strategic planning requirements for local governments across Australia
  • Public Value and Australian Local Government
  • Gender issues

Past areas of research include:

  • Making Decentralisation Work:  Capacity building for local governments in West Africa
  • Gender and access to land in Mali and Niger

Current teaching areas include:
  • Local Government and Environment Management
  • Comparative Local Governance
  • Research in Local Government
  • Community Strategic Planning
  • Workforce Planning for Local Government
  • Local Representation and Democracy

Chapters

Tan, S.F. & Gueye, B. 2008, 'Resilience of Family Farming in West Africa' in Gupta, V., Levenburg, N., Moore, L., Motwani, J. & Schwars, T. (eds), Culturally sensitive models of family business in sub-Saharan Africa: A Compendium using the GLOBE paradigm, Icfai University Press, pp. 164-187.
Kanji, N., Tan, S.F. & Toulmin, C. 2007, 'Introduction: Boserup Revisited' in Woman's Role in Economic Development, Earthscan: London.

Conferences

Tan, S.F. 2014, 'The gap between institutional expectations and councillor perceptions of their roles: how serious can it be?', International Research Society for Public Management Conference 2014, International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM), Ottawa, Canada.
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This study, carried out in the Australian state of Victoria, sought to understand councillors' perceptions of their representative role. In Australia, local government powers and functions are prescribed through state and territory legislation. They do this within a broader public policy context of reform which has evolved significantly. Most recently local government reform has been characterised by the introduction of business and managerialist approaches. These reform processes envisage a more strategic role for councillors. To test councillors' alignment with these institutional expectations, interviews were carried out. The research found that despite the legislative framing of their roles and direction of reform, councillors' perceptions and practice were different from what was expected.
Tan, S.F. & Scott, V. 2013, 'Lessons Learned from Building Capacity for Workforce Planning in Western Australia', Public Works Explore New Territory Conference, Public Works Explore New Territory Conference, IPWEA, Darwin, NT.
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Tan, S.F. 2013, 'Workforce Planning in Australian Local Government: Hitting the Mark?', IPAA Research Day Papers, IPAA Research Day, IPAA, Canberra.
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Journal articles

Ryan, R. & Tan, S.F. 2014, 'Editorial', Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance, vol. 1, no. 15, pp. 1-2.
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Kanji, N. & Tan, S.F. 2008, 'Understanding local difference: gender (plus) matters for NGOs.', Participatory Learning and Action, vol. 58.
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Other

Ryan, R. & Tan, S.F. 2016, 'How council mergers and reforms imperil local government democracy', The Conversation.
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Australia's local government sector has been undergoing reform in recent decades. The result has been fewer and larger local governments and a reshaped role for elected members or councillors. But do councillors understand what this means for them?

Reports

Woods, R., Tan, S.F. & Ryan, R. Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government 2015, Councils learning from each other: An Australian case study, University of Technology, Sydney.
This report explores motivations for, and facilitators and barriers of, inter-council learning. The study identifies how information, ideas and inspiration is accessed from peers and then taken further and embedded within their own organisations.
Grant, B.J., Tan, S.-.F., Ryan, R. & Nesbitt, R. Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government 2014, Public Value Background Summary Paper, pp. i-24, Sydney.
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The Public Value project, led by the Local Government Business Excellence Network (LGBEN) with support from the Australian Centre of Excellence Local Government (ACELG), explores the current understanding of Public Value concepts. The aims of the project are to develop an understanding of Public Value Creation, to provide examples of Public Value Creation from the Australian local government sector, to assist others in identifying examples of Public Value Creation from their own councils and to provide accounts of these examples to demonstrate how local government contributes to is communities and more broadly. Intended outcomes include the development of a robust definition and understanding of Public Value Creation and assisting local governments to place themselves on a footing for continuous organisational improvement.
Tan, S.F. & Grant, B.J. Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government 2013, Local Representation in Australia: A Review of the Legislation and Literature, University of Technology, Sydney.
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Tan, S.F. & Artist, S. Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government 2013, Strategic Planning in Australian Local Government: A Comparative Analysis of State Frameworks, University of Technology, Sydney.
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Tan, S.F. Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government 2013, Issues in Australian Local Representation: A view from Victoria, University of Technology, Sydney.
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Tan, S.F. Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government 2012, Workforce Planning and Development: Capacity Building Opportunity, University of Technology, Sydney.
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McKinlay, P., Pillora, S.D., Tan, S.F. & Tunzelmann, V. Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government 2012, Evolution in Community Governance Building on What Works, University of Technology, Sydney.
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Sansom, G.C., Dawkins, J. & Tan, S.F. Centre for Local Government 2012, The Australian Model of Metropolitan Governance: Insights from Perth and South East Queensland, University of Technology, Sydney.
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Mainlay, J. & Tan, S.F. IIED 2012, Mainstreaming gender and climate change in Nepal, London.
Bonjer, D., Fallding, M., Tan, S.F., Farrier, D., Powell, J. & Kelly, A.H. 2012, Local Government Approaches to Planning and Managing Conservation Connectivity and Wildlife Corridors (June).
Monimart, M. & Tan, S.F. IIED 2011, Gender and access to land and natural resources in Mali and Niger, Making Gender and Generation Matter for Sustainable Development, London.
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Tan, S.F. & Guèye, B. International institute for environment and development (IIED). Programme zones arides 2005, Portraits of Family Farming in West Africa, Drylands Issue Paper 134.
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Selected Peer-Assessed Projects