Research Projects

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

Karen Alexander

Developing Best Practice in the Design of Business Incubation: A Processual Case Study of CoLAB

Supervisors: Dr Simon Stephens, Dr Isobel Cunningham, Dr Anne Burke

This project will present an overview of the recent literature on entrepreneurial experiences and capabilities to assess the need to (re)design the process of business incubation. This study will identify key business incubation supports and the associated entrepreneurial activities and outcomes. We will examine structures, linkages and joint initiatives involving business incubation as they relate to entrepreneurial activities. The experiences of entrepreneurs and their evolving expectations will be examined in terms of the changing nature of business incubation. The findings will be presented as a conceptual framework which will be developed in conjunction with a Delphi Panel of Business Incubation Centre (BIC) managers. The framework will facilitate an improved understanding of the benefits and evolution of entrepreneurial capabilities, activities and outcomes as the result of engagement with a BIC. The results will be disseminated at conferences and in appropriate academic journals. This research will enhance the existing literature on business incubation and entrepreneurship. 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.

Grainne Breslin

The role of SOP’s in intra and inter organisational knowledge transfer in the hospitality industry along the Wild Atlantic Way

Supervisors: Dr Conor McTiernan, Dr Ciarán ÓhAnnracháin

Contemporary innovation research emphasises the importance of linking knowledge management to the strategic objectives of the organisation. Modern hospitality organisations aspire to being knowledge-generating, knowledge-integrating and knowledge-protecting entities. This requires the creation, diffusion, storage and application of either existing or new knowledge. Knowledge management improves the ‘wisdom’ of the organisation, facilitates decision making and enhances innovation and performance. Hospitality knowledge is embedded in interactions between people, tools and tasks and research has centred on two themes; the role of knowledge within an organisation and secondly, the movement of knowledge between and within organisations. This knowledge transfer requires an ability to learn, to transfer that learning and act upon it to gain competitive advantage.

Explicit and tacit knowledge can be transferred through standard operating procedures (SOP’s), where SOP’s are defined as the written aims at standardising general activities. SOP’s allow all parties to be aware of specific rules and guidelines and ensure the smooth and efficient running of an organisation. Yet poorly written or ambiguous SOP’s can frustrate knowledge transfer. This proposal explores the dyadic relationship between the codification of knowledge and utilisation of an appropriate taxonomy of knowledge transfer and the implications for SOP’s in the Irish hospitality industry.

Brian Harkin

An Ethnographic Study of Parkrun Participants: Motives, Experiences & Perceptions

Supervisors: Dr Suzanne Kennedy, Humphrey Murphy

The parkrun movement is a highly effective international public health exercise intervention that involves free weekly, community based 5 kilometre runs/walks in public spaces for all ages and abilities across twenty countries. It is co-ordinated and organised by local volunteer teams who provide the necessary weekly supports for exercising together. There are 123 official parkruns in Ireland, one of which is based in Letterkenny.

Whilst large statistical investigations dominate parkrun research, the subjective experiences of participants, including their personal motives, are less evident. Insights into how participants manage their adoption of regular physical activity, and their loyalty to the parkrun phenomenon is equally important in our understanding of the effectiveness of community-led physical activity interventions. Identifying experiences and elements that participants find important or beneficial could help inform the design of future health promotion initiatives, particularly those relating to physical exercise.

This proposal therefore seeks to investigate the parkrun as a cultural phenomenon, and to explore the motives, experiences and perceptions of individuals that participate regularly in a local parkrun, with the aim of identifying elements that encourage initial participation and contribute to sustained involvement in community based health-enhancing physical activity.

Conor McDaid

Industry readiness measurement for implementing closed-loop supply chain: an Irish dairy industry perspective.

Supervisors: Dr Amir Azadnia, Dr George Onofrei

Milk processing, dairy products manufacturing and packaging along with transportation are responsible for a huge amount of GHG emissions and wastes in the world (Thoma et al., 2013, Zucali et al., 2020). There are several sources of waste in the dairy industry supply chain such as products, production remains, and packaging. The closed-loop supply chain (CLSC) concept is seen as one of the strategies towards attaining a sustainable supply chain, on which the product returns and wastes are transformed into resale products (Gardas et al., 2019, Govindan et al., 2020). Therefore, designing and implementing a practical and CLSC for the dairy industry could help companies to reduce waste and other environmental impacts and improve their financial performance. However, not all firms have been successful in their CLSC implementations (Bhatia et al., 2020). Therefore, there is a need for performing readiness measurement to ensure the successful implementation of a CLSC. Although several studies have been accomplished in the field of the CLSC, less attention has been devoted to developing a comprehensive framework for measuring the dairy industry readiness for implementing CLSC. Considering the aforementioned gap, this research aims to develop a comprehensive framework for measuring the readiness of the Irish dairy industry for implementing CLSC.

Maria McKeever

Generation Z: Exploring their interaction preferences and the impact on marketing communications strategies.

Supervisors: Dr Sarah Diffley, Dr Vicky O’Rourke

An increasing body of literature has drawn attention to need for marketers to gain a fundamental and detailed understanding of Generation Z (see for example Fromm and Read, 2018; Kitchen and Proctor, 2015; Southgate, 2017; Williams and Page, 2011). This new generation of customer presents even greater challenges to marketers than their Millennial predecessors. (Fromm and Read, 2018). Mobile-first, socially conscious, information rich and technologically savvy (Fromm and Read, 2018; Kitchen and Proctor, 2015), Generation Z gather information utilising both digital technologies and face-to-face interactions. As such, marketers must develop strategies that target these customers using both these approaches (Spears et al., 2015).

The size of this market is growing significantly, Generation Z account for 32% of the total population of 7.7bn and by 2025 it is projected that they will make up 50% of the total spend in the personal luxury market (Forbes, 2020). Yet despite the size and power of this generation, they are often overlooked (Fromm and Read, 2018). This research aims to fill this gap, exploring the unique characteristics of Generation Z and key differences that exist between them and their predecessors in relation to buying behaviour. Given that Generation Z represent a powerful consumer group both now and in the future, this research is essential.

Aoife O’Dalaigh

Building Supply Chain Resilience through Lean Practices.

Supervisors: Dr George Onofrei, Dr Amir Azadnia

Volatile business environments are becoming the norm, as global disruptions and competitive forces create additional uncertainty. Over the last two decades, individual businesses are no longer competing as stand-alone entities, but rather as supply chains (Christopher, 2000). Companies has moved towards supply chain management (SCM) as a mechanism to increase their organisational effectiveness, competitiveness, customer care and profitability (Rajesh, 2018). Managing development of supplier partnerships and strategic alliances is becoming a critical issue since it impacts companies and overall operational and supply chain (SC) performance. Lean practices focus on eliminating all types of waste, reducing or minimizing the variability from demand to supply (Onofrei et al., 2019). Companies must adopt lean philosophy internally (their own operations) and externally (customer and supplier’s operations), in order to achieve a maximum return.

In the last five years, various disruptions and unexpected events (earthquakes, floods, droughts, pandemics, wildfires, etc.) have disturbed the regular flow of service, products, and materials along the SC (Ruiz-Benitez et al., 2019). Thus, the SC risk management has become one of the most researched topics in operations and supply chain literature. Although various studies have proposed practices for companies to adopt in such turbulent times, the current pandemic has highlighted the fact that when it comes to putting into practice, very few are applicable.

The proposed study aims to investigate the impact minimisation of such unexpected events, by focusing on building SC resilience, through the implementation of lean practices. From a practical perspective, this research will provide empirical evidence on how to improve the overall SC performance using different paradigms (lean, agility and resilience). Theoretically, the proposed study will add to the debate related to the synergies/trade-offs between lean practices and resilience in the supply chain.

Emily O’Flynn

Developing Best Practice in the Design of Entrepreneurial Universities: A Processual Case Study of LYIT.

Supervisors: Dr Simon Stephens, Dr Isobel Cunningham, Dr Anne Burke, Michael Margey

This project investigates the concept of the entrepreneurial university and examines the roles of academic entrepreneurship in driving regional economic development outcomes. While there is a wealth of research on the conceptualisation of an ideal entrepreneurial university there are only a few case studies which focuses specifically on the dynamics both within the university and between the university and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Due to the paradigm shift of universities towards knowledge transfer, innovation, and commercialization, universities are increasingly expected to deliver tangible outcomes, for example through academic spin-outs, material transfer agreements, patents, or licenses. Such a shift has changed the nature and scope of academic entrepreneurship within universities and public research organizations. The development of entrepreneurial competences in the education system has become an urgent topic in the European policy discourse and related academic literature (Mets et al., 2017). Higher Education is generating significant value across multiple dimensions financial, social, cultural and environmental. As a both an economic and social entity a University plays a vital role in anchoring investment and generating economic activity, jobs and contributing to the growing success of our region. This research with explores the fundamental question of: which organisational conditions are needed to establish an entrepreneurial spirit and academic entrepreneurship across entrepreneurial ecosystems? The results will be disseminated at conferences and in appropriate academic journals. This research will enhance the existing literature on entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial universities and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Furthermore, this research will inform best practice and thus, should be of use to entrepreneurs, support agencies, sponsors and academics.

Una Quinn

Letting the community have it’s say in setting out its future: An evaluation of a large scale, multi-faceted community participation initiative in Co. Donegal.

Supervisors: Paul McCusker, Dr Padraig Gallagher

This research project seeks to evaluate a planned community engagement initiative currently being proposed by Donegal Local Development CLG (DLDC) whereby community representatives and stakeholders from three communities situated in the DLDC area will be recruited, trained and supported to generate community action plans for their areas. This activity will take place between May 2020 and December 2021. Each community will be allocated a facilitation team who will use a different facilitation approach. The specific purpose of this research is to critically evaluate the effectiveness of each of the three approaches used and to develop a model of best practice in the form of community engagement guidelines and programme manual for DLDC.

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.