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Promoting knowledge of parliaments
 Parliamentary careers
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What is the IPU?


  Parliamentary careers:
design, delivery and evaluation
of improved professional development
Australian Research Council international linkage project 2009-2012

This project (LP0989714) investigates the professional development of parliamentarians, delivered by a range of providers, including chamber staff and non-parliamentary aid and donor organisations in selected parliaments in 30 countries.

Project objectives

  1. To determine the induction and competencies required and desired by parliamentarians and the nature and effectiveness of orientation, induction and on-going programs for the development of knowledge, skills and abilities for parliamentarians

  2. To investigate motivations and incentives for parliaments to offer programs and for parliamentarians to participate in them.

  3. To evaluate the extent to which programs affect individual and collective chamber performance.

  4. To test whether the relationship between training and performance is moderated by trainee attitudes and motivations (career self-efficacy, perceived organisational support, motivation towards skill development and transferability of the training) as well as trainer characteristics (credibility, experience and quality of feedback).

  5. To determine factors influencing the effectiveness of programs supported by donor agencies, with special reference to the Pacific region.

  6. To develop a better practice framework and implementation strategy, create and maintain an interactive multilingual website for those delivering programs; provide evidence based information; and establish a forum for contact and the exchange ideas.
These objectives are designed to address the paucity of independent, international, evidence-based research which provides those who seek to design and deliver programs with data relevant to the complex role of parliamentarians, their manifold responsibilities and the skills and knowledge required for effective performance.


This three year project will be completed in mid-2012. A survey will be commence in the first half of 2010. Interviews will be conducted in 2010 and will extend to 2011 if necessary. Preliminary findings will be reported to a conference associated with the IPU Assembly, Geneva, October 2011. Completed findings will be published in reports to the IPU and AusAID, academic journals and a book.

Significance and innovation

A parliamentarian’s role involves complex and multi-faceted law-making and governance matters, grounded in a unique and sovereign institution: the parliament. There is increasing evidence that poor governance is exacerbated by a lack of knowledge about issues such as ethical decision making practices, committee skills, parliamentary procedures, how to best represent electors, research skills, policy development, media techniques and electoral office management.

This cross-disciplinary project is innovative in that it will considerably advance and broaden the knowledge base of both the parliamentary studies and the human resource development disciplines within the distinctive institution of parliament. The anticipated research outcomes will include evidence based, useful and innovative ways of assessing the impact of existing education and training programs and will identify other potential avenues of development for parliaments and parliamentarians to enhance the knowledge, skills and abilities of members of parliaments.

From a theoretical perspective, this research provides a unique opportunity to test and develop the application of human resource development frameworks, such as Tharenou, Saks, and Moore’s (2007) training performance model and resource-based theory, against the functions of parliaments and parliamentarians. Political science theories, including parliamentary sovereignty will be applied when devising programs. The project also explores training of parliamentarians on the roles and relationships of accountability bodies such as Audit Offices, Ombudsman and Anti-Corruption Commissions and the significance of their independence from government. It also examines the role of training of parliamentarian in the nature, development and maintenance of appropriate relationships between the coercive arms of the state, the police and military, government and the parliament.

Parliaments invited to participate

National parliaments invited to participate in the project will be selected according to their stage of parliamentary development, the political stability of the country, constitutional models (Westminster, executive presidential etc), culture and language, with particular attention to countries within Australia’s region of interest. An equal number of parliaments will be selected for survey only and for survey plus interview.

Inclusion of a parliament in the project is contingent on it being fully functional at the time of survey and/or interview for data collection.

Partner organizations

  • Monash University

    Monash University is the lead institution in this project. Through the Parliamentary Studies Unit and the Monash Governance Research Unit, it is responsible for: the strategic leadership of the project; design and development of research instruments; management and administration of data collection, analysis and research reports; organisation and/or management of project events; management of the project's publications program; administration of project funds; and progress reports to stakeholders.

  • AusAID

    This project aligns with AusAID’s strategic plan, which includes the improvement of Australia’s regional security. AusAID focuses on the Asia-Pacific region and assisting partner governments to improve law and order, prevent and recover from conflict and manage a range of transnational threats. It works with governments to ‘strengthen governance’ by reducing corruption fuelled by poor political governance. It supports programs which improve ‘transparency and accountability’ and helps establish and implement clear legislative and regulatory frameworks with partner governments. AusAID is strongly committed to generating an evidence-based, cross-disciplinary database for parliamentary assistance programs. It will facilitate access to the Pacific region parliamentarians and parliaments, and also contribute expert and practical hands-on knowledge to this project.

  • Inter-Parliamentary Union

    The Inter-Parliamentary Union is the international organisation for world-wide parliamentary dialogue. IPU focuses on fostering contacts, coordinating and helping in the exchange of experiences among parliaments and parliamentarians and contributes to the defence and promotion of human rights in these parliaments. IPU will facilitate contact with parliaments and parliamentarians on behalf of the project through national IPU groups and will also engage its partner organisation, the Association of Secretaries-General of Parliaments. Furthermore, IPU will assist in the dissemination of results through the publication of a handbook based on the project’s findings, which will guide policy and practice for the development by parliamentarians of knowledge, skills and abilities; integrate project findings into its website and distribute selected project output to national parliaments.

  • University of Sydney

    The University of Sydney is represented by the Department of Government and International Relations in the Faculty of Arts. Hon Kevin Rozzoli, Honorary Research Associate in the Department, is a chief investigator, with responsibilities for contributing to the strategic leadership of the project, liaising with staff of each chamber and certain political parties, contributing to project events and the dissemination of findings through conference papers, a research book, international refereed journal articles and non refereed publications.


This project addresses an urgent need to assist parliamentarians to acquire and develop knowledge, skills and abilities for their roles and responsibilities. Indeed the evidence based data it generates will facilitate better design of content, more effective delivery practices and evaluation of programs available for parliamentarians. Parliamentary assistance support by donor agencies will be better targeted to deliver improved value for donors and provide greater benefits to partner countries. Also, personnel assisting parliamentarians will be better informed and thus have more effective program design and delivery capabilities.

Higher levels of knowledge, skills and abilities are expected to lead to improved performance by parliamentarians and their parliamentary chambers, thereby enhancing the legitimacy, reputation and quality of parliamentary democracy.

This project also seeks to identify factors that predict and enhance performance at the individual and chamber level. This will allow standards of governance to be raised and ethical decision making and government accountability to be improved. This in turn will contribute to political stability, creating a ‘virtuous circle’ in which social, economic and environmental conditions improve.

Research benefits include applying and developing a cross-disciplinary approach for the development of human resources to sovereign political institutions. In doing so, it will address a significant gap in the broader political science and human resource development literature. Moreover a dedicated ‘living’ website and online conferencing facilities, accessible to all professional development personnel and parliamentarians, will provide research-based expert advice to parliaments and donor agencies.


  • Dr. Ken Coghill (BVSc, PhD Melb) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Management at Monash University. He is also the Director, Monash Governance Research Unit and Co-Director, Parliamentary Studies Unit. He leads the ARC Linkage project Parliamentary Careers: Design, Delivery and Evaluation of Improved Professional Development. Associate Professor Coghill’s research interests relate to application of complex evolving systems theory and fuzzy logic to socio-ecological governance; parliaments and other legislatures; ethics; prevention of corruption and business-government relationships.
  • Dr. Ross Donohue (BA, BBehSc (Hons) Griffith, PhD QUT) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management at Monash University. He is also a registered psychologist and is a member of the Australian Psychological Society. Dr Donohue’s current research interests relate to personality-environment fit and career change; the influences of emotional intelligence and transformational leadership on career advancement and performance; psychological contracts and organisational justice; and the predictors of organisational commitment.
  • Dr. Peter Holland (MA Kent, PhD Tas) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management and the Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Research in Employment and Work at Monash University. He has worked in the Australian Finance Industry and consulted to the private and public sector in a variety of areas related to human resource management and employee relations. Dr Holland’s current research interests include, human resources development, employee voice and monitoring and surveillance in the workplace.
  • Dr. Colleen Lewis (B. Com (Hons), PhD Griffith) is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts, Criminology Department and Co-Director, Parliamentary Studies Unit at Monash University. She has a particular interest in models for improving public sector integrity and the relationships that exist between independent, anti-corruption agencies and governments and parliaments. Associate Professor Lewis’s major research interests include anti-corruption models, police accountability, police-government relations and public sector and political accountability.
  • Hon. Kevin Rozzoli is a former member of the Parliament of New South Wales, currently an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Government and International Relations in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney. Mr Rozzoli is the author of the acclaimed book Gavel to Gavel: an Insider's view of parliament, University of New South Wales Press Ltd, Sydney, 2006.
  • Mr. Andy Richardson is Chief Officer of the Parliamentary Resource Centre, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva (Switzerland). Mr Richardson has a key role in the oversight of the project website development. He also contributes to the design of survey instruments, interview questions and organisation of data collection, the facilitation of interviews and meetings, and the analysis and interpretation of findings.
  • Dr. Cristina Neesham (BA Buch, PhD Melb) is a Research Fellow in the Department of Management at Monash University. She has worked as a consultant with a variety of organisations, from government agencies and NGOs to multinationals and small businesses, in Australia and Eastern Europe. She also has experience in public management, having worked for the Australian Public Service for 7 years, and is a qualified workplace trainer and assessor. Dr Neesham’s research interests are in the areas of public policy and governance (with emphasis on parliamentary studies and European studies), philosophy of management and social institutions, and leadership skills development.
  • Mr. Abel Kinyondo (MA Botswana) is a PhD student at Monash University and is also an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the Dar Es Salaam University College of Education. He has served as a United Nations Volunteer specialist in United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and was also an intern at the Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit (NEPRU) and a Junior Lecturer at the Institute of Management Sciences in Windhoek, Namibia. Mr Kinyondo currently investigates professional development of elected members of selected parliaments within AusAID’s Pacific region (including Timor-Leste).