UBC, SFU join to tackle gov't, business issues

A joint SFU-UBC Centre for the Study of Government and Business will study the role of governments in the Canadian economy and the relationship between government and business in Canada.

The centre is the first of its kind in Western Canada, and promises to become the western Canadian voice of academic public policy research, according to its co-directors Prof. Thomas Ross of UBC's Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration, and Prof. Aidan Vining of SFU's Faculty of Business Administration.

Ross said that while non-academically based western research groups like the Fraser Institute are doing respected work, the SFU-UBC partnership, as an academic centre, will have greater freedom to pursue the truth no matter what direction it takes.

"There's a real need for better, academically oriented, public policy research on questions like privatization, competition policy, the role of the government in the modern developed economy, and measuring the effectiveness of government in managing the economy," he said.

Vining added that there's an urgent need for more policy research at the provincial level and closer ties between government and business.

"The interaction between academia and the provincial government is much closer in other provinces," he said.

The collaboration is also remarkable as the first between the two faculties.

"SFU and UBC together have some of the strongest people in the business, government and public policy area, not only in Canada but in North America," Vining said.

Funding is currently being sought for new research projects such as measuring the performance of privatized Crown corporations and the efficiency of public enterprises.

The centre will also oversee ongoing projects like the popular UBC Election Stock Market, which successfully predicted the outcomes of the last two federal elections.