Researcher biography

From the politics of climate change to defending democracy, Professor Daniel Nyberg is seeking to understand how corporations, governments, and citizens negotiate different priorities when facing key challenges of our time.

This qualitative researcher takes an interdisciplinary approach to his work across two main areas:

  1. climate change, where he interrogates the links between climate change and corporate capitalism, and
  2. defending democracy, where he seeks to untangle the relationships between industry and government.

“These are some of the biggest threats facing humankind,” he affirms.

“How could you not be interested?”

Climate Change

Professor Nyberg’s interest in climate change came from a growing sense of urgency. As public interest in green products grew, corporations were beginning to address climate change internally, through the design and delivery of green products and services. At the same time, the climate emergency led to attempts to contain or regulate polluting industries, for example through carbon offsets and other measures.

“It’s important to understand what corporations are doing in order to mitigate and/or minimise the effects of climate change,” Professor Nyberg explains.

“We also need to have knowledge about what they’re doing so we can regulate their activities.”

Working alongside Professor Christopher Wright from the University of Sydney's Business School, and Dr Vanessa Bowden from the University of Newcastle's School of Humanities, Creative Industries and Social Sciences, this ground-breaking research has been published in a number of leading international journals. The three colleagues collaborated on the book, Organising Responses to Climate Change: The Politics of Mitigation, Adaptation and Suffering (2022, Cambridge University Press), building on the success of Professor Nyberg and Professor Wright's book, Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction (2015, Cambridge University Press), which attracted wide attention across both the social and natural sciences.

Defending Democracy

Building on this work, Professor Nyberg has developed a strong interest in corporate political activity, both in how public policy is interpreted and implemented in practice, as well as in how corporations seek to influence public policy. This shift from the narrow focus on corporate outcomes to the broader understanding of democratic processes, is particularly relevant in the fraught debates around climate policy.

“I’m currently exploring how corporations influence democracy,” he states.

“The clearest example is the Labor Government’s super profit tax proposal of 2010, which the mining industry vehemently opposed. Even though it spent $22 million doing so, calculations by the Australian Financial Review suggest it saved $10 billion by agreeing to a truce with then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard. So, you can see it’s often much easier and cheaper for corporations to deal with public policies than it is for them to deal with their processes.”