Commissioned research

The Institute provides commissioned work for a range of external stakeholders. Recent examples are provided below and include Ministry for Women, the Productivity Commission, United Nations Women, and MBIE.

Ministry for Women

The successful partnership between the Institute and the Ministry for Women has produced numerous ground-breaking findings over recent years. The Ministry for Women first engaged the Institute in June 2016 to conduct new research into the drivers of New Zealand’s gender pay gap. The Ministry commissioned this project to identify and focus on the right actions for reducing the gap. Subsequent to these research findings, the Ministry then recommissioned the Institute to explore the labour market outcomes of men and women as they have children. Results from this research provided insights as to the parenthood penalties that drive the gender pay gap.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

The Institute has partnered with MBIE on multiple occasions. In 2016, MBIE commissioned the Institute to explore youth's expectations of employment and employers’ expectations of work readiness in South Auckland. The challenge was hosted by the Auckland Co-Design Lab, where the team were able to collect insights about the attitudes, views and experiences of young people and employers, and to also quantify the economic costs of youth disengagement. Further in 2017, MBIE recommissioned the Institute to better understand the low pay sector within New Zealand, and the changing nature of this group in recent years.

Ministry of Education

In June 2017, the Ministry of Education (MoE) released an International student wellbeing strategy to promote safety and welfare of international students in New Zealand. This strategy includes four broad domains of interest – economic wellbeing; education; health; and inclusion. The Institute was commissioned by MoE to scope how useful administrative data can be in producing benchmark indicators to monitor outcomes under this new wellbeing strategy.

Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission have engaged the Institute on two projects over two consecutive years. In 2017, the Institute was commissioned to examine the substantial ethnic gaps in higher education in New Zealand. Then again in 2018, the Productivity Commission engaged the Institute to evaluate the implementation of Wellington’s Health Care Homes scheme on a range of health-related events.

United Nations Women

The UN Women National Committee of Aotearoa New Zealand commissions the Institute on an annual basis to conduct the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles Survey (UNWEPS). The UNWEPS aims to uncover policies and practices within New Zealand’s largest organisations on behalf of the UN Women, with a specific focus on the seven UN Women’s Empowerment Principles. Since 2015, the Institute has published the survey results for four consecutive years.


The Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (Superu) were one of the Institute’s key partners between 2016 and 2018. Superu aimed to increase the use of evidence by people across the social sector and commissioned the Institute to provide such evidence for two different projects. The first explored residential movement within New Zealand, which entailed the quantifying and characterising of NZ’s transient population. The second project examined the possibility of modernising the welfare and social assistance system to remove or reduce reliance on the couple-based unit of assessment in New Zealand.
Superu was disestablished on 30 June 2018. The Social Investment Agency now houses all Superu reports and resource in The Hub.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori (Maori Language Commission)

The Māori Language Commission funded the Institute for new research into subjective motivations for the inclusion of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori in business and organisations. This project includes a 1000 response survey and nine follow-up interviews to collect data on what motivates or impedes non-Māori organisations to use and promote te reo Māori; the value proposition that te reo Māori has with these organisations; their implementation pathways for the integration of te reo Māori in their business; and approaches to the learning and teaching of linguistic components of language revitalisation that are appropriate to the acquisition of te reo Māori.


Lifewise commissioned the Institute in 2016 to scope the cost of homelessness in New Zealand. The cost of homelessness to society and to the individual is difficult to measure, which in turn makes it difficult to formulate and evaluate meaningful policy change to address rising homelessness and housing deprivation.

The Blind Foundation

The Institute was commissioned by the Blind Foundation to provide insight as to the size and nature of the disabled population in NZ, and how their economic outcomes have changed over the last 15 years. The aim of the Blind Foundation’s project was to present an up to date summary of people with disabilities as such information is imperative for policy makers and support providers alike. The research scope of this report was to examine relevant overseas legislative models providing for accessibility for disabled persons and to distinguish therein provisions that might significantly advance current New Zealand accessibility laws.

View the campaign and other relevant information.

Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand (CCANZ)

CCANZ commissioned the Institute to assess the impact of new ways of working on diversity and wellbeing. This project researched outputs-based culture in the CCANZ workplace, and the relationship between this concept and greater flexibility across the organisation. Key staff within CCANZ were interviewed with the aim of providing organisational-specific recommendations.

Vodafone Foundation NZ

Concerned with the number of youth not in employment, education or training (Y-NEET), the Institute was commissioned by the Vodafone Foundation NZ to paint a comprehensive portrait of the Y-NEET population in New Zealand. This project also involved quantifying the cost of youth disengagement in terms the lost productivity, as well as the additional burden on public finances. View the video

Auckland Transport

With continuing advancements in digital technology, many organisations internationally have adopted virtual communication practices. Flexible and remote working is increasingly recognised as essential for employee engagement, productivity retention and wellbeing. Auckland Transport commissioned the Institute to explore the prevalence of such practices in Auckland in an attempt to understand the extent to which flexible working might impact worker travel behaviour and, with it, Auckland’s future infrastructure requirements.