About this Research Project

Despite international research evidence suggesting that the adoption of High Performance Work Practices (HPWP) among manufacturing enterprises deliver better financial performance, innovation, and lower employee turnover; there is a lack of contemporary evidence of the widespread adoption of these practices in Australian organisations.

Commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Industry, this project investigates the use of HPWP among manufacturing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the barriers to adoption. The study will also provide vital insights into challenges facing Australian manufacturing SMEs and the management practices that drive performance. The findings will inform the Minister for Industry in developing real solutions that can help manufacturing SMEs increase their competitiveness, specifically in finding ways to promote and support the adoption of high performance workplace cultures among manufacturing SMEs.

This project consists of:
• A desk-top review of prior international and Australian research on HPWP
• A national survey of small and medium manufacturing workplaces
• Best-practice case studies
• A review of government and industry policies aimed at promoting high performance workplaces
• Manufacturing industry forums to share and discuss the results

View the initial report findings here

Download from Dropbox (4.22MB pdf)

Case studies

Case Study: Bundaberg Brewed Drinks

Case Study: C-Mac Industries

Case Study: Dowell Windows Geebung

Case Study: Hella Australia

Case Study: Homeart Pharmaceuticals

Case Study: Quality Printers and Cartridges



Australian Government Statistical Clearing House Approval Number: 02383-01


Team Members

Avatar of Prof Peter Gahan Prof Peter Gahan
Research Associate
Avatar of Laura Good Laura Good
Avatar of Prof Bill Harley Prof Bill Harley
Research Associate and James Riady Chair of Asian Business
Avatar of Dr Mulyadi Robin Dr Mulyadi Robin
CWL Researcher (2013-2014)
Avatar of Dr Brigid van Wanrooy Dr Brigid van Wanrooy
CWL Research Manager (Oct 2013-Jan 2015)

Project Leaders

Avatar of Prof Peter Gahan
Research Associate
Avatar of Angus McDonald
Research Manager (2014-2016)


The manufacturing sector is rapidly changing, and it is crucial that the Australian Government has a thorough understanding of the issues affecting small businesses. This way small businesses and government can work in partnership to improve competitiveness and productivity, ensuring a vibrant, forward-looking manufacturing sector.

Avatar of Chris Butler
Head of Division, AusIndustry

Project Events

  • The Centre for Workplace Leadership has collaborated with Manufacturing Skills Australia (MSA) to run a series of free consultative industry events across Australia.

    This is a critical time for manufacturing and your participation counts.

    These forums are designed to gather your views on the current situation of Australia’s manufacturing industry to enable government and stakeholders to gain a comprehensive, real-time picture on what is happening in the sector.

    We will also present and discuss the findings of Australia’s most comprehensive study of manufacturing SMEs - the High Performance Manufacturing Work Practices Study.

Partner Organisations

  • Department of Industry Logo


Find Out More

Avatar of Prof Peter Gahan
Avatar of Angus McDonald