Study As
Full Time or Part Time

Principal Supervisor
Associate Professor Nirosha Wellalage

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
27 Jun 2024

Study Level
PhD or Master of Research

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
No stipend available

About this project

ESG considerations have become increasingly prominent in the investment landscape, with investors incorporating ESG criteria into their decision-making processes (“Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) Investing - OECD,” 2022). However, the credibility of ESG disclosure practices has been called into question, as some firms engage in greenwashing to enhance their corporate image without making substantial improvements to their ESG performance (Ellen Pei-yi Yu, Luu, & Chen, 2020). 

This research seeks to address the gap between ESG disclosure and actual performance, particularly within the Australian context. This research is highly relevant in the context of increasing investor demand for transparent and reliable ESG information (Sridharan, 2018). By shedding light on the relationship between ESG disclosure, greenwashing, and actual performance, the study aims to inform stakeholders, policymakers, and investors about the challenges and opportunities associated with corporate sustainability reporting (LexisNexis, 2021). Additionally, the findings will contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field of ESG research and foster greater accountability in corporate practices.

What you’ll do

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) is an indicator that measures a company’s non-financial performance (Park, Choi, & Jung, 2022). The term ESG first came to prominence in a 2004 report titled "Who Cares Wins", which was a joint initiative of financial institutions at the invitation of the United Nations (UN (United Nations, 2004). ESG factors have gained significant attention in recent years as investors, stakeholders, and policymakers recognize their importance in assessing the sustainability and long-term performance of firms. However, alongside the rise of ESG disclosure, concerns about greenwashing (Vieira, Felipe, Regina, & Robert, 2020), the practice of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about a company's environmental practices has also emerged (Montero-Navarro, Thais González-Torres, José-Luis Rodríguez-Sánchez, & Gallego-Losada, 2021). This research proposal aims to investigate the relationship between ESG disclosure, greenwashing, and actual ESG performance among Australian firms.

Practical Implications:

The findings of this research will have physical impacts on investors, policymakers, and corporate practitioners seeking to enhance the transparency and reliability of ESG reporting practices. By identifying instances of greenwashing and their impact on stakeholder perceptions, the study will inform decision-making processes and promote greater accountability in corporate sustainability efforts (Luu & Chen, 2020).

Theoretical Implications:

The research will contribute to theoretical debates surrounding ESG disclosure, greenwashing, and corporate legitimacy. By advancing our understanding of the relationship between disclosure practices and actual performance outcomes, the study will enrich existing theories and frameworks in the field of corporate sustainability (Bernini & Fabio La Rosa, 2023).

Where you’ll be based

The Centre for Markets, Values and Inclusion (CMVI) combines specialist skills and multidisciplinary perspectives to provide a transdisciplinary approach to delivering meaningful research, which informs innovative, evidence-based solutions for a more inclusive and sustainable future.

All supervisors possess extensive knowledge and expertise in environmental accounting and finance fields of study. It is demonstrated through a robust publication record in high-impact journals, involvement in cutting-edge research, and contributions to advancements in the accounting and finance discipline. Also, members of the supervisory panel successfully supervised PhD students in past in similar fields. Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses.  A fee offset for the standard term of the program is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. Additionally, any Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicant who holds an offer of admission without a living allowance will be eligible for the Aboriginal Enterprise Research Scholarship. This scholarship is to the value of $50,291 per annum. Any Aboriginal Enterprise Research Scholarship recipient will also receive a fee waiver. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.


Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from Australian or New Zealand citizens, and Australian permanent residents or permanent humanitarian visa holders. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a Master of Research or a PhD. 

Additionally applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:

  • Statistical skills- Stata/R or data analysis skills

All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time or part-time, and to be based at our City West campus in the heart of Adelaide. 

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on 27 June 2024.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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