Geoff Soutar interview, 12 October 2012

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Geoff Soutar interview, 12 October 2012




This is an interview with Winthrop Professor Geoff Soutar who graduated in economics from the University of Western Australia and undertook doctoral training at Cornell University before returning to teach at the UWA, from 1973 to 1986. He was Foundation Professor of Management at Curtin University of Technology from 1986 to 1994 and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business and Public Management at Edith Cowan University from 1994 until 1999. He was also Director of the Graduate School of Management at UWA.

Soutar has been a consultant to a large number of private and public sector organisations in Australia and internationally and has been active in research across a wide area, publishing more than 150 research papers in journals and in book chapters, as well as a number of research monographs, across a wide range of management and marketing areas and presenting more than 300 papers at seminars and conferences. His present research interests include cross-cultural decision-making, new product and service development and the marketing of services, especially educational and tourism services. He has a particular interest in service quality and its impact on organisational success, from which evolved a long-term study of consumption value and its impact on people's willingness to buy and their subsequent satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
He outlines his memories of the development of UWA and the Business School in a developing competitive local academic field. He speaks of the international standing of the University and looks to its future.


Soutar, Geoff


University of Western Australia Historical Society


Copyright holder University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


John Bannister


Geoff Soutar


Interview 1: 51 minutes, 31 seconds
Interview 2: 51 minutes, 33 seconds
Total:1 hour, 43 minutes, 4 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

Track 1
00:00:00 Background. Schooling. Rotary Exchange to the US. Coming to UWA commerce and economics. First person to get a degree in economics with a unit in accounting. Fulbright scholarship PhD in 1973. UWA MBA degree. Teaching within the MBA program – 1974-1985. Curtin head of school of management and marketing. Move to Edith Cowan because of UWAA related reasons. VC ECU Roy Lourens. 1999 takes over the director of management. GSM. David Plowman.
00:04:57 Impressions of UWA, on coming to University after school. Family history and education. Importance of tertiary education. Differentiation with undergrad program. Quotas of students in commerce. Atmosphere at university. Kim Beazley, Bob McMullan. Intellectual debates. Paul Hasluck. Common intellectual debate. Barry Humphries. Full time student. Guild and support. Pelican editor thrown in the pond at the library. Bridge games played.
00:10:11 Sense of community. Debate and argument. Ron Peters, Ray Petrides, Robin Gauche, Rony Gabbay. Philip Brown, Peter Longton, Tom Wardle. Perth. Mining boom and nickel boom. Sir Charles Gairdner. The only university in WA. Many people on scholarship reward academic excellence. Costs. Full time vs part time students.
00:15:00 Aims and thoughts of future academic career. Ray Petrides. Honours in economics. Had to go overseas to do a PhD in marketing. The pull of the US to get a world class doctorate. Going to Cornell University. Centre of anti-Vietnam War activities.
00:18:13 The world-scale of the university in the 1970s. Great preparedness – the honours program. Gains brought back to the university. Vithala Rao amazing man supervises doctorate. Marketing research equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Paul Green from the University of Pennsylvania. Exposed to work done at the Bell Labs. Research assistant. Coming back with a unique skill set.
00:22:05 Students go out to the corporate world. UWA in 1983. Low research budget. Aims on return and the new marketing programme. Bruce Stanage. Students do honours in marketing. A strange situation. Erich Fraunschiel Wesfarmers, Pamela Watson Wood Prize, Alex Clark ANU, Devon Wallace, Dhruba Gupta, Andrew Wagstaff of Argyle Diamonds. People that come through the course. Michael Chaney, Robyn Ahern. Financial assistance for financial research.
00:27:30 Teaching qualitative method, no books, no overheads and black board. Algebra. Michael Chaney one of the best MBA students. course outline and the structure. Full time student and the MBA program. Quotas – morning and night classes. Traditional MBA program. Strong foundation. Andre Morkel from South Africa. Takes over the MBA.
00:32:59 Cross-cultural consumer decision making. Cross-cultural MBA. Accounting finance and international student. Sue Saunders. Phil Brown from Chicago. Very US. Looking to Japan. Ground breaking aspect. Writing quantitative method. Popularising the area of research in the area. Research on marketing and management.
00:37:35 UWA giving out to the community. Competitive WAIT business program. Curtin has grown. UWA attracts students at the top end. Relevant to the community. Professional society involvement. Board of the Australian Marketing unit and Chamber of Commerce. Phil Brown survey of business opinion in WA. R&I Bank. Economic activity journal major way to interact with the community.
00:40:10 Consumer behaviour in the 1970s. WA consumer practice relevant to information coming out of the US. Cross-cultural research. Nice part of the changes. Personal values and Shalom Schwartz. UWA more important today. At the front of study. Importance of international students. The centre grows from nothing. Money and resources. The Australian research council and grants and research. Training and computer programs.
00:47:13 Compatibility of computer programs. Slow downloads and the technology of the day. Technology and facilities change. Changes in technology to teaching approaches. Effects of technology on learning participation.

Track 2
00:00:00 Seeing UWA nationally – research and respect. The school has unique research, well-respected people. Contributions individuals have made. Development of the research centre and program. Changes. Grants for international conferences. Consequences for researchers at UWA. Quality of the work getting out to the community. Cross-faculty interaction and personal interactions.
00:05:50 Change in the sense of community at UWA. The interfaculty cricket match. Keith Punch plays for the Faculty of Education. The Business school rarely wins. The loss of the tea room. People discuss things at tea. Mrs Scott mother of Bon Scott. Social inspiration on tea break. Trevor Williams. Federal government have caused change to teaching and research. Bureaucracy and the research output. Government reducing red tape. Workloads and workaholics
00:11:44 Interaction and competition between universities. UWA pivot for cross university interaction. Long term relationships. Comparing Curtin and UWA. Risk and infrastructure. Resources and the ‘two horse race’ in WA. Nurturing of the Business School at UWA and Curtin.
00:16:29 Being the researcher and director. Memories of the experience. Quality students. Memories of David Plowman. Other people at the school. Pamela Watson. Memories of Andrew Wagstaff and Tim Mazerol. Research programmes. Dhruba Gupta. Devon Wallace.
00:24:14 Discussion of research. Personal values research – ARC grants. Julie Lee and Jordon Louviere. Benefits of the international conference. Shalom Schwartz and serendipity. Papers and website. Funding grants and dollars raised.
00:29:10 Management of UWA. The growth of the university and systemic issues. Collegial environment in the early days. The university club and a staff club. Senior management and academics. Thoughts of UWA today. WA a crucial part of W.A economy. Ranking UWA. Top group of university internationally. Providing quality for the students. Significant research provided by UWA
00:34:25 Memories of the America’s Cup. CABR. Grove House. Labour of love. Big projects and the benefits to the communication. Foundation Research. Government and Events Corp. Publications community perceived value. New product development. Awards.
00:40:30 Looking at career. Very fortunate and a fortunate life. UWA central to academic life. Reflecting on the Academic Staff Association. Academic working conditions and lack of resources. First industrial award. Terry Quickenden. Connection with the Association. Disbelief that the staff would behave that way. Thoughts of the chancellor. Court government changes the law. Federal court. Outcomes. Superannuation issues and academics. Various related schemes. UWA potentially dying under the costs of the supplementary pension scheme. The 1983 scheme. Staff make money out of the changes. Uni super scheme. Significant decisions being made. UWA as a place for academic staff. Sitting on committees. Seeing UWA’s future. Revolution and evolution.



Soutar, Geoff, “Geoff Soutar interview, 12 October 2012,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed July 13, 2024,