Research Projects

Our research students are engaged in a diverse range of subject matters.

Aisling Bonner

Examining the influence of Social Capital Configurations on Operational Performance

Supervisors: Dr George Onofrei, Prof. Paul Humphreys, Michael Margey

Operations have long been tested by internal and external challenges and uncertainties in their environments. The legacy of the latest financial crisis and increasing pressure from low-cost competition has forced many companies to respond by focusing more on their intangible assets, such as social capital, to enhance their operations (Cohen et al. 2014; Zhang et al. 2016; Wiengarten et al. 2017; Onofrei et al. 2019; Zhang et al. 2019). Social capital is composed of entrepreneurial and cooperative configurations (Kang and Snell 2009). Entrepreneurial social capital is described as a work style which seeks the advancement of the individual (Swart and Kinnie 2013), while cooperative social capital emphasised team work and collective trust (Kang et al. 2007; Kang and Snell 2009).

Underpinned by the knowledge-based view (KBV) (Grant 1996), this study aims to examine knowledge resources shared through internal employee relationships and their subsequent impact on operational performance in terms of cost, quality, delivery and flexibility. The KBV sees knowledge as the prime resource of an organisation and employees are key stakeholders in its transfer (Grant 1996; Hsu and Sabherwal 2012).

Given the increased dependence of firms on their knowledge assets (Rammal et al. 2014), this study seeks contributes to existing social capital knowledge and literature by providing insights into the configurations laid out by Kang et al. (2007) and proposes the social capital framework as a useful mechanism than can enable companies to improve their operational performance.

Sara Connolly

Designing Support Systems for Creative Industry Entrepreneurs

Supervisors: Dr Tena Patten, Dr Simon Stephens

This research will explore the design and implementation of business supports and business incubation for entrepreneurs from the Creative Industries. The research will involve: an extensive literature review; a large scale survey of Creative Industry entrepreneurs; and interviews with business and creativity support agencies. The use of existing theoretical and policy frameworks allows this research to be situated in national and international settings by using the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) definitions of entrepreneurs, and the Department of Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) framework for the creative industries, both well-established models for research purposes. In addition, research participants will be selected from existing data sets (for example, the Creative Entrepreneur Database, the New Frontiers scheme, or Creative Edge) offering further depth to the understanding of the needs of Creative Industry entrepreneurs. The results will be disseminated at conferences and in appropriate academic journals. This research will enhance the existing literature on entrepreneurship, the Creative Industries and the appropriate support structures. Furthermore, this research will inform best practice in the design of supports to entrepreneurs from the Creative Industries and thus, should be of use to entrepreneurs, support agencies, sponsors and academics.

Claire Marie Curran

Knowledge Transfer in Irish Food Tourism Networks: Adding Value Through Trust Based Co-operation

Supervisors: Dr Conor McTiernan, Dr Ciaran O’hAnnrachain

It has long been recognised that an organisation’s ability to acquire and use external knowledge is related to its level of innovativeness. Research has shown that the acquisition of knowledge is often tied to networks of relationships, on different spatial scales, between those working in similar or quite different organisations. Not surprisingly Fáilte Ireland have invested resources in establishing and nurturing relationships between themselves and other tourism actors and, in recognition of the importance of peer-to-peer learning, have facilitated networks between organisations within particular destinations. This research explores what is seen as a critical element in productive food tourism knowledge networks, namely the trust shared between actors.

Damien Duddy

Energy expenditure of various exercise protocols using the Exoskeleton in Neurological Rehabilitation

Supervisors: Dr Maria Faulkner, Rónán Doherty, Dr James Connolly, Stephen McNally, John Loughery

Neurological rehabilitation specialists using an exoskeleton must determine appropriate dosage, consisting of frequency, intensity and duration of specified treatments. To determine these parameters, we must first understand the metabolic cost of each programme the exoskeleton can deliver.

The objective of this research is firstly, to investigate the effectiveness of various treadmill training programmes using the exoskeleton on energy expenditure in normal subjects. Secondly, to perform an analysis related to dosage (frequency intensity and duration) for exoskeleton rehabilitation in an adult population based on the energy expenditure of each programme.

Paul Fisher

Monitoring Training Load to understand fitness and fatigue in elite Gaelic Footballers

Supervisors: Rónán Doherty, Dr Maria Faulkner, Dr Mick McCann

Monitoring athletes’ training load is essential for determining adaptation to training programs, assessing individual responses to training, monitoring fatigue and the associated need for recovery and minimising the risk of non-functional overreaching, injury and illness. Given, the relationship between athlete workloads, injury and performance, athlete monitoring (e.g. global positioning systems [GPS]) has become crucial within high-performance sport. An integrated multidisciplinary approach to athlete monitoring is common in high-performance sport whereby internal and external loads are analysed to determine if an athlete is ‘fit’ or ‘fatigued’. Performance responses to training are nonlinear and influenced by a myriad of training and non-training related factors. Similar to injury risk the systems model approach can be used to improve understanding of the training process and predict individual athlete performance. Understanding the demands of a sport is therefore of paramount importance for programing training. Limited data is available on the match play demands of Gaelic football and to date no longitudinal research has been conducted to assess the training load across an entire season. The aim of this project is to complete an athlete monitoring program in training and competition across an entire competitive season.

Tara Gallagher

Retention: Experiential learning as a solution to addressing retention in Year One law students at LYIT

Supervisors: Dr Deirdre McClay, Dr Brónagh Heverin

Undergraduate student retention is a significant issue nationally (HEA, 2019); in the Technological sector, 65% of student drop-out occurs in year 1 (HEA, 2019). In Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT), 64% (2017/18) of total deregistration is in year 1 with 63% (2017/18) of students passing all year 1 modules (LYIT, 2019). There are currently two law programmes at LYIT; student retention is particularly problematic on the BA in Law with Criminal Justice for which the CAO admission points are lower. According to HEA (2019), there is a strong link between prior academic achievement of students and their likelihood of completion.

This research posits that the use of experiential learning from Year 1 will support and engage all students, including those with lower CAO points, to complete the programme while maintaining legal learning and enhancing professional identity. The project will explore the introduction of experiential learning initiatives in Semester 1, building on knowledge from past and currently funded projects. It will introduce innovative pedagogies using an action research methodology whose iterative cycles will facilitate development, piloting, delivery and evaluation of initiatives.

Clementine Hegarty

Restart: Second-time Entrepreneurs

Supervisors: Dr Padraig Gallagher, Dr Isobel Cunningham, Dr Lynn Ramsey

The study presents a rare opportunity to provide an understanding on the perceptions and experiences of second chance entrepreneurs. The dynamic capability approach to entrepreneurship will form a back drop to the study. The research design and methodology used in this study is exploratory, in-depth and qualitative in nature and is influenced by the phenomenological genre. The research will focus on second chance entrepreneurs in Ireland, but there is the potential to extend to other countries in Europe. The study will confirm why entrepreneurs decide to form a new business after succumbing to business failure and what are the main challenges in setting up a business second time around. The study will also allow recommendations at government/policy level to be made on how the support structure for second chance entrepreneurs can be optimised. The study will interest economic development agencies and administrators, policy makers and organisations interested in eliminating the barriers to second chance entrepreneurship. Future research opportunities are considered. The outcomes of the study are also important to the Higher Education Sector where there are increasing expectations that they collaborate closely with Industry and support entrepreneurship and economic development.

Claire Henderson

The use of reflection as a form of assessment – What are we assessing? Input, process or product

Supervisors: Dr Brónagh Heverin, Dr Meadbh Ruane

Recent developments in curriculum design and development in both law and business programmes have resulted in more emphasis on the value of learning through application and reflection – experiential learning. Experiential learning theory is founded on a constructivist theory of learning where knowledge is created and recreated in the personal knowledge of the learner, in direct contrast to the transmission model where pre-existing fixed ideas are transmitted to the learner (Kolb and Kolb, 2005). Notably in experiential learning, the learning is a process that happens apart from experience, and conscious reflection is imperative (Evans, 1999). However if reflection is an integral part of the experiential learning cycle, the issue of its assessment arises.

Use of reflection as an assessment method provides an ideal opportunity for simultaneous assessment of learning, assessment for learning and assessment as learning. However, the practice of assessment of reflection is not as easily categorised. The purpose of this research is to consider the practice of reflection as assessment in LYIT with a view to developing a comprehensive and robust framework. Modules in the business and law programmes where reflection is a cornerstone of the assessment schedules will be the focus of this research, with potential for transfer to other disciplines.

Yousra Kabir

Case Studies of Female Entrepreneurs – Evidence from Donegal

Supervisors: Dr Isobel Cunningham, Dr Simon Stephens, Prof Roisin Lyons

This research will explore the experiences of Female Entrepreneurs in Donegal. The primary outcome will be design and implementation of business supports and business incubation for entrepreneurs; and as necessary specifically, for females. The research will involve: an extensive literature review; a year-long case study with twenty entrepreneurs. The use of existing theoretical and policy frameworks allows this research to be situated in national and international settings by using the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) dataset. In addition, research participants will be surveyed on their experiences of: networking; business incubation and entrepreneurial education. The results will be disseminated at conferences and in appropriate academic journals. This research will enhance the existing literature on entrepreneurship; female leaderships; and allow for novel cross industry comparisons. Furthermore, this research will inform best practice in the design of supports to entrepreneurs and thus, should be of use to entrepreneurs, support agencies, sponsors and academics.

Lorraine Kennedy

From posting to purchase – The impact of social media networks on intentions to purchase and WOM behaviours in the tourism and hospitality industry

Supervisors: Dr George Onofrei, James Kearns

Literature has highlighted the fundamental impact of social media on both industry and practice (Ngai et al., 2015). Despite their pervasiveness, social media technologies remain in their infancy, highly unpredictable, (Leitch and Merlot, 2018) and new to academia (Ngai et al., 2015). An extensive call for research has emerged in the area of social media in the tourism and hospitality industry (see for example, Ge and Gretzel, 2018; Harrigan et al., 2017; Hudson et al., 2015; Kandampully et al., 2015). This research will test a framework investigating the impact of social media networks on consumer’s intention to purchase and WOM behaviours in the tourism and hospitality industry. In doing so, this research will provide critical insight into capitalising upon social media as a means of marketing to customers. Given the significant impact of social media on the tourism and hospitality industry (Hur et al., 2017) and the central role of social media in the creation of the customer experience in tourism and hospitality (Sigala, 2016), this research is essential.

Leah Ryan

Case Studies of Tourism Entrepreneurs: Evidence from Donegal and Murcia

Supervisors: Dr Simon Stephens, Dr Manuel Catena, Prof Pablo Ros

This research will compare and contrast the experiences of Entrepreneurs in the Tourism Industry from the Wild Atlantic Way and the Region of Murcia. The primary outcome will be design and implementation of business supports and business incubation for entrepreneurs from these regions. The research will involve: an extensive literature review; a year-long case study with twenty entrepreneurs. The use of existing theoretical and policy frameworks allows this research to be situated in national and international settings by using the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) dataset. In addition, research participants will be surveyed on their experiences of: networking; business incubation and entrepreneurial education. The results will be disseminated at conferences and in appropriate academic journals. This research will enhance the existing literature on entrepreneurship; the Tourism Industry and allow for novel cross country comparisons. Furthermore, this research will inform best practice in the design of supports to entrepreneurs and thus, should be of use to entrepreneurs, support agencies, sponsors and academics.