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Government, Public Policy and Social Cohesion


The rapid changes in multi-ethnic and transnational societies of the Pacific require that USP students and its research activities focus on improving governance and public policy formulation, so that emerging cultural, social, environmental, economic, and political issues are addressed in a timely and efficient way. This will contribute to maintaining, enhancing and nurturing social cohesion and political stability. The critical areas of leadership, governance, human rights, politics and policy making, together with the promotion of ethical governance, will be ongoing priority areas for the University.

This SRT deals with a quintessential inter-disciplinary field of research, combining sociology, politics, law, public administration and development economics.


Civil Society, volunteerism and the production of youth citizenship in Fiji

Team Members: Dr Jacob Mati (Project Leader)

   Prof. Derrick Armstrong, DVC RI&I

   Mr. Martin Burrows, Oceania Sports Information Centre, USP Library.

   Ms. Kesaia Vasutoga, SOSS, FALE

   Ms. Natasha Khan, SGDIA, FBE

Funding: FJD$49,532.68

Duration: 2 years

Overview of Project

The proposed study examines the possibilities and limitations of volunteerism and civil society in the production of youth citizenship in Fiji. Specifically, it interrogates the extent to which volunteerism as a form of civic participation, especially in civil society, socialises young Fijians to become civically minded citizens actively engaged in collective activities that result in harmonious co-existence and ensure social cohesion. At least four high quality academic journal articles will be published in among others The Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly and the Journal of Social policy.

Policy and regional implications: The proposed study findings are relevant in equipping policy makers and practitioners in civil society engaged in youth development with a better understanding of the complexities and dynamics in social production of citizenship. Specifically, the analysis of the nature of civil society and youth volunteerism as tools for imparting civic values and youth citizenship are useful for improving existing youth volunteer programmes for the purposes of making them more effective in meeting not just youth volunteer’s personal development goals, but wider social derivatives such as inter-group trust, tolerance, and social cohesion, which are key desired governance outcomes for the Government of Fiji.  In addition, it is hoped that a similar study will be replicated in the Solomon Islands which has a history pockmarked by violence with active involvement of the youth. To this effect, the principal investigator is in discussions with Dr. Nichole Georgeou, the Director of Humanitarian and Development Research Initiative (HADRI) at the School of Social Sciences and Psychology of the Western Sydney University (who has promised to secure AUD5000.00 to pilot a similar project in the Solomon Islands) for possible collaboration.

Completed Projects

Building a Research Agenda on Nation-Building in the Pacific

Cluster Sub-theme: Building a Research Agenda

Project Team Leader: Dr Virginia Tilley

Team Members: Gordon Nanau, 2 other USP researchers, Prof.David Lowe, A/Prof Simon Feeny, Prof.Mathew Clarke, Dr Jon Ritchie (Deakin University), A/Prof.Michael Leach (Swinburne University), Prof.Deirdre O’Neill, Ms Valarie Sands (Monash University)

Funding: $29,514

Duration: 6 months from 1st August 2013

Overview of Project:

This project aims to develop an academic network and theoretical framework for a larger multi-disciplinary research project involving senior academics from several distinguished Pacific academic institutions. The collective goal of this group is to assess persistent difficulties faced by selected Pacific island countries in seeking national unity.

The aim of the network is to build multi-disciplinary knowledge that can support practical recommendations for policy reform and strategic interventions by politicians, the private sector and foreign donors, while improving our scholarly understanding of nation-building I Pacific island countries. This proposal requests seed funding for the development phase of this project, which will consist of two meetings, an organizational workshop (in Australia) and a research symposium (in PNG), where the research group can build consensus on the best theoretical framework and methodology to enable maximal cross-cutting benefits of data-gathering in 6 research themes.

Objectives of the development phase:

  • To establish the theoretical framework for a research symposium
  • To develop contacts and networking among Pacific researchers
  • To establish a theoretical framework that serves all 6 components
  • To finalize proposals for research projects, beginning in 2014

The role of sports social cohesion, peace and nation building in the Solomon Islands

Project Leader: Mr Jeremy Dorovolomo

Team Members: Dr Gordon Nanau, FBE
Dr Billy Fito’o, FALE,
Dr Jack Maebuta (Institute of Education-Honiara Campus),
Mr Patrick Minti (SOE-Solomon  Islands  National University)


Funding: $15,773

Duration: 6 months (Aug 2016 to Feb 2017)

Overview of Project

This study will use the Nominal Group Technique (NGT), which is a priority and consensus forming research tool, on what is being done so far in the area of Sports for Development and Peace (SDP) and strategize with participants the use of sports to building ongoing peace and co-existence. A one-day workshop will take place for the NGT process, across sectors, and recommendations will be made to the Government and three articles will be written as academic papers for ranked outlets.

Fijian Interpersonal Perception and Attitudes Survey

Project Leader: Dr James Johnson

Team Members: Marcus Stephenson, FBE
Yoko Kanemasu, FALE
Sara Amin, FALE
Asenati Chan-Tung, FALE,

Funding: $49,160

Duration: 2016-2018

Overview of Project

Social distance focuses on the psychological and emotional distance between groups in society. Social distance research has a long history in the social sciences. Emory Bogardus developed a scaling technique for the measurement of social distance.  Subsequently, a number of researchers have employed the Bogardus social distance measure, especially in the US and Western societies, to examine intergroup relations and stigmatization and prejudice towards minority social groups. Further, the Bogardus scale has been translated into several languages and employed in various societal and cultural contexts. Unfortunately, there has been no assessment of social distance in the Pacific Region. In addition to social distance, greater attention should also be given to other variables that might influence intergroup processes in the Fiji (i.e., prejudicial attitudes, interpersonal violence-related attitudes). Simply put, there is very little information on the general intergroup attitudes and perceptions of the people in the Fiji Most importantly, government polices to facilitate social cohesion (e.g., interethnic, cross-gender social cohesion) in Pacific cultures would certainly be informed by the findings of the present examination. Indeed, the data from similar examinations are commonly used to establish social policies in other countries.

A number of national studies have examined the incidence and nature of social distance, gender-based prejudicial attitudes, and violence-related attitudes, separately. However, there has been no national and/or regional study that has explored the incidence and nature of all of these factors in one investigation. Further, there has been no assessment of the extent that these factors might be related and/or influence each other. Finally, there has been no research that examined the role of moderating factors such as cultural identity and interpersonal contact on social distance, prejudice, or violence perceptions in the Fiji (or any other Pacific region).

Thus, the present research will have both practical and theoretical implications. Specifically, the proposed study will extend the Interpersonal Relations research by: a) providing one of the first comprehensive national examinations of  interpersonal attitudes and perceptions in the Fiji (which could certainly inform social policy issues associated with intergroup relations and social cohesion in Pacific Islands/Cultures) ; b) provide one of the first Fiji examination of attitudes and perceptions that include social distance perceptions, gender-based prejudice perceptions, and violence-related perceptions (and how they related to each other); and c) provide one of the first examinations of the moderating role of factors such as cultural identity , interpersonal contact, and religiosity  on social distance and other interpersonal attitudes and perceptions; and d) provide further examination of the moderating role of ethnicity, education, age, and socio-economic status on social distance  and other interpersonal attitudes and perceptions.

Moreover, a project of this scope would certainly lead to a number of publications in high ranked journals Sociology, Psychology, and Tourism journals. The research team has an extremely strong record of both extramural funding (i.e., the principle investigator has secured over USD4 million in external grant funding) and publishing in high impact research journals. Consequently, there is a very high likelihood of publications of the findings and subsequent external grant funding to extend the research.

Human Resource Management in Public Sector: Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Cook Islands

Cluster Sub-theme: Public Sector Management

Team Members: Dr Anand Chand, Prof Vijay Naidu, Ms Suwastika Naidu, Dr Claire Slater, Dr Gordon Nanau, Dr Asenati Chantung

Funding: $40,700

Duration of Project: 12 months from December 2012

Overview of Project

Human Resources Management

Human Resources Management

There are two main aims of this research. Firstly, to examine/compare and contrast the management styles and HRM practices used in the public service before and after public sector reform in four selected South Pacific Island countries. The second aim of this study is to critically analyse the current management models and HRM policies used by the governments and develop the Strategic Human Resource Management Model (SHRMM).

Constitutional Developments in the Pacific Islands

Project Leader no longer in USP

Team Members:
USP School of Law: Dr. Anita Jowitt (Leader)
Professor Eric Colvin
Dr.  Sean Donlan
Lee-Anne Sackett
Emeritus Professor Don Paterson
Emalus Honorary Fellow: Dr. Howard Van Trease
USP School of Government, Development & International Affairs: Professor Vijay Naidu (on return from SMPA
Dr. Gordon Nanau
Dr. Robert Nicole
Dr. Claire Slatter.
USP Pacific Island Centre for Public Administration: Parmesh Chand
ANU: Dr. Miranda Forsyth

Funding: $50,000

Duration: June 2016 – November 2017

Overview of Project

Constitutions are extremely important as they define the democratic foundations and institutions of countries. In the USP region the constitutions are, largely, a reflection of colonizers’ structures and values. The operation of these constitutional foundations have given rise to a number of socio-political challenges, including coups, clashes between human rights and custom, weak political accountability and political instability. They have also given rise to a vibrant body of case law, as courts try to negotiate the relationships between introduced institutions and local practices and come to decisions that promote the ongoing development of democratic states. This project aims to fill this gap by bringing scholars from within and outside of USP together both in an online environment and at a conference to discuss issues of current significance relating to constitutional developments in the Pacific region (whether from a socio-political perspective, a case law perspective, or the perspective of making or changing constitutional texts). Whilst the main focus will be on countries in the USP region and following an English constitutional tradition, discussion of constitutional issues in other countries and territories in the broader Pacific region would also be welcomed. At the conference project researchers will share individual research with the aim of developing collaborations.

Ethics in the Public Service: the case of 4 PICs

Cluster Sub-theme: Codes of Conduct

Project Team Leader: Dr Desmond Amosa

Team Members: Prof. Vijay Naidu, Razeen Ali, Hon. Dr Drew Allbritten, Prof. Peter Larmour

Funding: FJD34, 573

Duration of Project: 12 months from date of awarding of funds

Overview of Project:
This project will be the first study in the Pacific region to examine the Public Service Codes of Conduct in four selected PICs. As such, it will make a significant contribution to the knowledge of the effectiveness of certain Codes of Conduct. Further, this research will focus on the cultural, governance structures and historical differences among the countries. Culturally, these PICs belong to either the Melanesian or Polynesian group of island countries. Politically, two PICs have a parliamentary governance system (Samoa and the Solomon Islands), one has a Monarchy (Tonga) and the other is under Military Rule (Fiji). These distinctions have the potential to add to the significance of the research.


Patterns of Mobility and Development in Pacific Island States: An Integrated Analysis

Cluster Sub-theme: An Integrated Analysis

Project Team Leader: Dr Alessio Cangiano and Dr Andreea Torre

Team Members: Ms. Khusbhu Rai, Mr Jason Titifanue

Funding: FJ$30,568

Duration of Project: 12 months (1/4/15 – 31/3/16)

Overview of Project:

As the International development agenda is moving into a new stage where the current Millennium Development Goal framework will be replaced by the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), interest in mainstreaming migration into development policies has grown at all levels of governance (international, record, national). However, knowledge of the migration-development nexus and policy formulation in this area is still undetermined by significant gaps. Internal and international migration have been addressed a separate spheres in both scholarship and policymaking, leaving internal mobility out of the picture in international dialogues on migration and development. Globalization has made migration patterns increasingly multi directional, diversified, interdependent, women-led and temporary/circular in nature. The overarching goal of this project is to provide a better understanding of the relationships between different migratory patterns in the South Pacific, where complex systems of mobility combining urbanization, intra-regional movements and international migration play a prominent role as drivers of economic and social development. This project will contribute to research excellence in the University by generating high-impact publications and enhancing its recognition as hub of migration research in the Pacific region. By undertaking a participatory consultation process with stakeholders and relevant development actors the project will also enhance USP’s regional and community engagement.

Women, Employment and Leadership in the public sectors of the Pacific Island Countries (PICs)

Cluster Sub-theme: Women and Governance

Project Team Leaders: Dr Asenati Chan Tung and Prof Vijay Naidu

Team Members: Prof. Mark Turner, Razeen Ali, Hon. Dr Drew Allbritten

Funding: FJD26,000

Duration of Project: January 2012 to January 2013

Overview of Project:
Women’s participation in public sector leadership is a globally-recognised factor contributing to the enhancement of good governance and achievement of national development goals. However, there is extraordinarily little systematic knowledge about women in the public sectors of Pacific Island Countries (PICs). This is because very little research has been undertaken on women in public sector employment and leadership positions. This project aims to provide statistical and comparative analysis of women in the public services of three PICs (Cook Islands, Samoa and Solomon Islands) between 1992 and 2012. It also aims to collect and analyse the views of upper and middle level female public workers on career development, individual and organisational performance, and matters relating to gender equity in the workplace in PICs. The study will provide a systematic picture of the current status and trends in female employment and leadership in Pacific public services.


Governance of Basic Education in Pacific Island Countries: Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa and Solomon Islands

Cluster Sub-theme: Governance

Team Members: Prof Vijay Naidu, Dr Gordon Nanau, Dr Donasiano Ruru, Dr Haruo Nakagawa, Dr Asenati Chantung, Mr. Taakei Taoaba

Funding: $25,100

Duration of Project: 12 months from December 2012


Good Governance

Overview of Project
This research aims to: (a) delineate the progress made by four selected countries of the Pacific in basic education (i.e. early childhood education plus first eight years of formal education in schools) during the last decade in respect of quantity (for example, enrollment, dropout, physical facilities, etc) and in the equity of access (i.e. access to education by girls and poor and disadvantaged children); and, (b) explain the trends obtained in terms of these governance factors. What makes the proposed study interesting is that it takes a theoretical approach to understanding education systems, particularly the effects of governance on the quality and equity of education, let alone the comparative analysis envisaged. Apart from the formal government structures and institutions of decision making that characterizes traditional understandings on government (GDN 2010), the research will look at the interaction and cooperation between private and public sectors or formal and informal institutions. By studying governance in the basic education sector of the four Pacific countries, this research is seeking to identify the specific bottlenecks in the Pacific to be removed through policy and implementation reforms.



Project title – Governance of Basic Education in Pacific Island Countries Project

  • Panel Discussion at PSIC-12 on the “Governance and Delivery of Primary Education in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa and Solomon Islands: Initial Learning from the Field”

Conference Presentations

Project Title: Patterns of Mobility and Development in Pacific Island States: An Integrated Analysis

– Torre and Cangiano (2015) Gendered perspectives on the migration-development nexus in the South Pacific – paper presented at the 10th European Society for Oceanists (ESfO) Conference in Brussels, 24-27 June 2015 – paper presented

– Torre, A. (2016) Mobilizing “sleeping traditions”: women, migration and cultural heritage in the South Pacific – paper presented at the Australian Association for Pacific Studies (AAPS) Conference, 1-3 April 2016, at James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

– Cangiano, A.  (2016)    Selective Immigration Policies and Temporary Labour Mobility Schemes in the Pacifc – paper presented at the Australian Association for Pacific Studies (AAPS) Conference, 1-3 April 2016, at James Cook University, Cairns, Australia papers presented

– Cangiano A. and Torre A. “Beyond the ‘triple win’ mantra: A critique of managed migration policies in the South Pacific”, Conference “Migration and Late Capitalism Critical Intersections with the Asia-Pacific and Beyond”, University of Victoria, Victoria BC, Canada, 11-13 June 2015

Project title – Ethics in the Public Service: the case of PICs

  • Conference Paper titled “Building an Ethical Civil Service in the Pacific:  Exploring the effectiveness of Fiji’s Public Service Code of Conduct’ presented at the Asia Pacific Research Colloquium from 28 January – 7th February, 2013, ANU, Canberra.  .  ( Paper attracted a scholarship from SSGM, ANU, for the duration of the colloquium and bagged in the best participant award during the colloquium)
  • A paper abstract accepted for the 2014 Global Conference on Business and Finance, from January 6-9, 2014, Honolulu,Hawaii, USA.

Journal Articles

Project Title: Patterns of Mobility and Development in Pacific Island States: An Integrated Analysis

– Cangiano A. and Torre A. (eds.) (2016) “Situating the nexus: Migration, Gender and Politics of Development in Pacific Islands”, Special Issue of the Journal of Pacific Studies, 36(1). 

– The Journal of Pacific Studies – Edited Special Issue on Migration, Gender and Politics of Development in Pacific Islands https://www.usp.ac.fj/index.php?id=journ_pac_studies

– Introduction to the Special Issue https://www.usp.ac.fj/fileadmin/files/Institutes/jps/Volumes/Volume_36_No_1_2016/Introduction.pdf

– DevPolicy Blog: Temporary migration in the Pacific: a substitute for more inclusive migration opportunities?