Corporate Australia needs to develop a 'culture of compliance', Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, told the launch of the Association of Compliance Professionals of Australia in Sydney today.

"Management literature is full of discussions about corporate culture which talks about predominant values sets which drive decision making and performance of the corporation," he said. "A company with a culture of compliance is one in which a dominant value from top to bottom favours activities which support compliance with laws. Such a culture doesn't exclude the ability to win markets through innovation and quality with goods and services."

Professor Fels said that effective and long-lasting compliance was not only about using the 'state of the art' communication techniques but also about changing the very culture of the way a company does its business.

"Despite the irreversible momentum towards a more competitive economy, some of the most recent cases and investigations by the ACCC have indicated that there is still a culture being demonstrated by some Australian managers that hankers for the 'old way' of doing business, particularly when the going gets tough: ways which stifle competitive through market sharing, price fixing and other anti-competitive conduct.

"If we are to be competitive as a nation this mind set must be eradicated and replaced by accepting the way to be competitive is to be customer focussed, to have adequate and continuous investment into research and development, to ensure that there is adequate investment into plant and other income producing assets, to ensure that the firm is operating efficiently, to employ 'ideas' people, and to develop products which are innovative and which represent value for money to consumers," Professor Fels said.