PhD in Sociology, from The Australian National University (ANU) - Conceptualising Legitimacy, Moral Panics and Performance Enhancing Drugs: Crisis? Whose Crisis?
First Class Honours (Sociology) from ANU - Court in the Middle – Gender Relations, the Family Court and Child Support Agency.
Bachelor of Arts, ANU (Development Studies and Sociology).
Dr Vanessa McDermott is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Business at UNSW, Canberra and convenor of the UNSW Canberra Human Research Ethics Advisory Panel.
I take a sociological view to investigate decision-making in governance and regulatory frameworks. My research interests include corporate governance and organisational culture (private and public sector), how organisations communicate and manage behaviour change initiatives and the impact, positively or negatively, on perceptions of organisational legitimacy, accountability and trust. I emphasise the importance of understanding how governance frameworks, and the decision-making that underpins them, can increase the risk / compliance burden for those subject to those rules, inadvertently contributing to inequality and poor outcomes for some groups. I've considered the impact of regulatory responses for worker safety in civil construction, and for athletes subject to anti-doping policies in elite sport, as well as community safety and urban development.
I conduct evaluations of programs and initiatives in the public and corporate sectors, experienced in co-designed evaluation projects, translating findings into actionable recommendations for change that seek to influence policy and achieve positive outcomes for communities and individuals. Evaluations of initiatives on well-being and/or safety at work or in the community and that seek to inform behaviour change are key themes in my work.
I received my PhD in sociology from the Australian National University (ANU). Prior to joining UNSW Canberra in 2020, I was a Research Fellow in the Energy Pipeline Cooperative Research Centre at ANU and later at RMIT.
Connor, J., Williamson, S. and McDermott, V. 2021 Defence Gender Research Program, Australian Department of Defence (completed).
O’Neill, S., Glennie, M., Farmer, J., Caponecchia, C., McDermott, V., Blackman, D., Rooney, J. Huron, V. 2021 Mentally Healthy Workplace Measurement and Reporting Guides, The National Work Initiative and The National Mental Health Commission (completed).
Connor, J., Henne, K. and McDermott, V. 2013 Legitimating the Fight? Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Anti-Doping Strategies in the Pacific, funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (completed).
Owen, J., Connor, J., Linger, H., Algeo, C. and McDermott, V. 2012-16 The Project as a Tool of Policy Implementation: The Role of Project Management in Health, on behalf of the Project Management Institute (completed).
Hayes, J., McDermott, V. and Holdsworth, S. ‘Urban Planning for Pipelines: evidence-based recommendations for policy change to support public safety and community welfare’ (completed, at RMIT).
McDermott, V. & Hayes, J. 2016 ‘We’re still hitting things’: the effectiveness of third party processes for pipeline strike prevention, in Proceedings of the 11th International Pipeline Conference (IPC), 26 – 30 September, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Best Paper Award Runner Up.
Lingard, H., Harley, J., Pink, S., Hayes, J. and McDermott, V. 2016 Breaking the Rules: Using Video To Understand Sub-Contracted Workers' Safety-Related Rule Violations And Errors, in Proceedings of the 32nd ARCOM Conference, 5-7 September, Manchester, United Kingdom, Best International Research Paper.
McDermott, V. 2011 Conceptualising Legitimacy, Moral Panics and PEDs: Crisis? Whose Crisis?, Sports Medicine Australia, ACT Sports Research Awards, Canberra, Winner of the 2011 ACT Sports Research Award – Open Category.
Risk-shifting in the time of COVID-19: the Australian federal government response and support for family day care providers
COVID-19 raised questions about the efficacy of a neo-liberal approach to policy and regulation. In Australia, the pandemic revealed that a neo-liberal approach to early childhood care policy can exacerbate economic and health risks faced by childcare providers. There has been little research into how family day care (FDC) providers, who are registered carers providing care in their family home, balanced compliance with safety measures and the health and economic risks of COVID-19. I use the concept of 'risk-shifting' to consider the impact on FDC providers of the Australian federal governments' childcare response to the initial wave of COVID-19.
Senior Executive Attitudes to Risk: the role of senior executive incentive schemes in corporate governance and organisational safety performance
Safety in the construction sector is an important part of organisational performance. Workplace injuries and large-scale accidents bring personal and organisational costs and expose construction companies to commercial, reputational, and legal risks. Despite research into accident causation and strategies to improve safety, little is known about the interactions of different corporate governance processes and any impact on organisational safety performance in the construction sector. This research will contribute towards addressing this gap by investigating relationships between senior executive incentive schemes and safety performance.
Legitimating the fight? Questions about Cross-cultural perspectives on anti-doping strategies in the Pacific
The fight against doping in sport requires support from governments, sporting organizations, athletes, athlete support personnel and the public. Crucial to this support is the perception that the anti-doping fight is a ‘good thing’ to do and that anti-doping polices are perceived to be legitimate. Problematically for the fight against doping there is a growing crisis of legitimacy. Doping rules and processes are continually challenged, sporting organizations, athletes and even some countries only partially buy into the anti-doping message, resources are sparse and cultural differences ignored. Further, criticisms of the value of anti-doping regulations take aim at the manner in which the anti-doping fight is undertaken. This World Anti-Doping Agency funded research project investigates cross-cultural perceptions of the legitimacy of anti-doping regulation. This research empirically examines how various actors perceive the anti-doping framework with the aim of understanding factors that build positive (or negative) perceptions of the legitimacy of anti-doping policies or procedures.
My Research Supervision
Regulating Manager Emotions in the Information Technology (IT) Workplace
I teach post-graduate project management, drawing on over a decade of experience working in or managing projects on issues as diverse as policy responses to performance enhancing drug use in elite sport, community attitudes to sustainability, safe work practices around hazardous infrastructure and evaluations of Australian federal government employment contracts, such as jobactive.
Postgraduate program - ZBUS8147: The Business of Managing Projects