He is equally engaged with driving change in our cities and with addressing the consequences of how modern societies operate, including homelessness and unemployment. He chairs the South Australian Government’s Homelessness Strategic Group, which was established to streamline the provision of support services, and has undertaken significant work around the impact of retrenchment on workers and their families.
He also is one of Australia’s leading experts on regional development and is the Australian researcher on a six-nation project looking at regional leadership.
Prof Beer’s current research has a strong focus on ageing, with complementary projects looking at the growth of consumer-driven aged care and a longitudinal analysis of the aged care sector. He says the sector is undergoing fundamental change for the better.
Prof Beer is also Dean of Research and Innovation in UniSA’s Business School and says there are no boundaries to enquiry in the social, economic and behavioural sciences.
“Business schools are made stronger and more relevant by the integration of new disciplines that reflect the context in which business operates,” he said. “Even if you are going to have the perfect measurement of business performance you can only do that if you really understand what the firm is, so you’ve got to understand what the firm is to society.
“That means you have to understand what society is. So it’s all pretty connected – all while making sure your company is capable of existing in that society. A concept that really brings it home is the concept of innovation; innovation is central to all individual businesses but it’s also a complex social and economic good.”
Homelessness is one such issue. “We have to acknowledge that a market economy can have adverse impacts, but at the same time businesses are among the most generous supporters of initiatives to support the homeless.”
Prof Beer recently served on the College of Experts for the Australian Research Council and is a Fellow of the Regional Australia Institute and the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences. He also Chairs the Regional Studies Association, a scholarly association based in England.