Document Type

Conference Proceeding


University of Canterbury


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Management / Centre for Innovative Practice




This article was originally published as: Barrett, R., Bahn, S., & Mayson, S. (2011). A'once in a generation opportunity'? Narratives about the potential impact of OHS harmonisation on smaller firms in Australia. Paper presented at the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) Conference. Wellington, New Zealand. Original article available here


Regulatory reform will see the introduction of harmonised Occupational Health and Safety laws across Australia. Here we consider the potential impact of this on smaller firms as the first step in assessing how they may adapt to this regulatory change. We use textual data consisting of recent media and blogs that highlight key stakeholders’ perceptions of the purpose and outcomes of harmonisation on smaller firms. The narratives perpetuate the negative discourse of regulation, not only for smaller firms, but for other key stakeholders. Critical analysis of stakeholders’ views of the effects of harmonisation articulates constraints and possibilities of regulatory change for smaller firms. Recommendations for ways in which smaller firms can be engaged and supported in this change are made.

Access Rights