Research Projects

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

Helen Mc Cready

The efficacy of a physical and emotional health and wellbeing programme for people with intellectual disabilities.

Supervisors: Dr. Ken van Someren, Prof. Ben Fitzpatrick

This study will evaluate the impact of a health and wellbeing educational programme on the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of participants with intellectual disabilities. The programme is designed and delivered by the No Barriers Foundation in conjunction with Donegal Community Inclusion Training Services and the HSE. The partnership between the agencies and ATU Donegal has made this research project possible, with the common goal of best practise service delivery towards the increased physical and emotional health and wellbeing of people with intellectual disabilities.

People with intellectual disabilities experience more health problems than the general population, with an increased likelihood to have multi-morbidities, including diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease & asthma, obesity and are more likely to be admitted to hospital. The study will evaluate a health and wellbeing programme that offers participants with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to maximise their health & fitness through physical activity, exercise opportunities and health education modules via active learning and peer discussion. The study is based on the premise that promoting a healthy lifestyle programme may increase emotional wellbeing and reduce the cardiovascular risk for people with intellectual disabilities in community settings.

The study will quantitatively evaluate biometric and wellbeing changes in the participants of the programme. This research will provide an evidence base for future iterations of the No Barriers Foundation programme and inform the prescription of novel health and wellbeing programmes for people with intellectual disabilities throughout the Donegal Community Inclusion Training Services and the HSE. The application of research will bridge the gap that exists in the provision of dedicated and evidence-based health and wellbeing education opportunities specifically for people with intellectual disabilities. The research will be disseminated to people with intellectual disabilities, stakeholders and service providers, health policy makers and to the wider research community via publications and presentations.

Abbey O’Keeffe

The Effects of Physical Activity, Sedentary Time and Nutritional Practices on Pregnancy Outcomes.

Supervisors: Dr. Maria Faulkner, Dr. Lizzy Derry, Dr. Sinéad Currie and Dr. Gemma McMonagle

There is compelling evidence to suggest that regular physical activity and healthy nutritional practices have positive outcomes, physical and psychological, in pregnancy for both mother and baby (Mills et al 2019). While globally these policies have received recent attention (World Health Organisation, 2020) disparity remains between policy and implementing guidelines into real world practice, particularly within an Irish setting (HSE 2018 and 2022, Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists et al 2019).

This research aims to assess the current and past experiences of pregnant people with respect to physical activity, sedentary time and nutritional practices and their relationship with pregnancy outcomes. The study will then implement and examine the effects of a theory based, behaviour change physical activity and nutrition intervention on pregnancy outcomes.

Suzhou Wei

Investigating into the formation and evolution of social enterprises and the social entrepreneurship eco-system in the North West.

Supervisors: Dr Isobel Cunningham, Dr Laura Bradley

Social enterprises are supported by the Government (Lyon et al, 2019) and are prioritised by the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship and the European Commission through, for example, the Social Business Initiative (2011), Europe 2020 Strategy and European Social Fund, (Teriez et al, 2020). This study aims to better understand the formation, needs and map social enterprises in the North West region.

There are criticisms that social enterprises do not have the necessary skills and experience to deliver quality public services effectively putting public services in danger of not meeting the needs of their multiple stakeholder groups (e.g., Powell and Osborne, 2018; Powell, Gillett, and Doherty, 2019). As has their over-reliance on grant funding which can stifle their ability to innovate and develop a sustainable business model. The study draws on previous studies conducted which explored social enterprise practitioners’ views on business support provision (Mazzie et al, 2020) and will focus on the pre-start up, start up and established stage of social enterprise development. This enable policy holders and decision makers across the local entrepreneurial eco system to better understand how to aid the start up and development of social enterprises.

Overall aim is to investigate the formation and evolution of social enterprises/entrepreneurs in the North West region.


  1. To build a demographic profile of entrepreneurs
  2. 4P Social” Entrepreneurs for People, Profit, Planet and Place
  3. Identify the motivations and challenges they encounter at each stage of formation and evolution
  4. Identify the importance of local entrepreneurial ecosystem in the process
  5. Outline the importance of intermediaries, hubs, HEIs to the process.

Fariha Quamar

Industry 5.0 and lean practices: a new paradigm?

Supervisors: Dr George Onofrei, Prof Graham Heaslip, Dr Amir Azadnia, and Prof Paul Humphreys

Industry 5.0 or the fifth industrial revolution is focusing on delivering personalised products and services, by harnessing a better interaction among humans and machines. This new era provides a new approach to personalization, and it aims to solve complex problems. Lean implementations have been successful, and the operational benefits are well established. However, with the advent of digital technologies, there is a lack of research that examines their impact on lean manufacturing. Researchers have raised the integration issues of Industry 4.0 in lean implementations and there is a scarcity of empirical studies as to how they support lean principles and add value to the process.

Recent studies have highlighted the need to reimagine the future production systems and investigate how to use technology to connect the workforce to the new digital advancements. One key pillar of lean manufacturing is focusing on people, therefore understanding the positive and negative impacts of such digital tools on the attributes of their work is paramount to a successful implementation. Managers must be cognisant of the implications of deploying new technologies and their interaction with lean manufacturing.

The proposed study will explore how the industry 5.0 can connect humans and new technologies, to achieve synergies and contribute to enhance operational performance. From a practical perspective, this study will inform managers as to how the industry 5.0 can enable the lean implementation and the supports required to improve the operational performance.

Wankya Ronald Kiduma

Developing Value added and market-oriented sea vegetable products for the Irish SMEs.

Supervisors: Dr Ciaran O hAnnrachain, Dr Elizabeth Mckenzie, Dorothy Bird

The seafood sector in Ireland is worth approximately €1.1 billion a year and is characterised by a high proportion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Over 30,000 tonnes of sea vegetables are harvested in Ireland every year and can contribute an array of nutrients including of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fibre and can be easily incorporated into a variety of food products to elevate them to value added food products. A strong market orientation and a consumer driven new product development (NPD) process are critical NPD success factors. Successful NPD requires knowledge exchange between the food related organisations, supply chain partners and the consumer. The Irish seafood industry lacks a market-oriented approach to its NPD activities. The Irish seafood industry is not in a position to capitalise on global trends as there are too many SMEs working in isolation.

As a result, there is a lack of coordination and cooperation between supplier, producers and a lack of connection with the consumer and customer. This study aims to examine the use of consumer insights in the development of more sustainable and value-added, new sea vegetable product concepts. Including products with sea vegetables as an ingredient, this process aims to increase consumer acceptance. The methodology employed will be qualitative and quantitative. If this innovation, data and other information gathered is managed correctly, in a formal process, then there is a significant opportunity for Irish food businesses to capitalise on the value-added market. This research highlights appropriate methods of gathering and managing customer insights during the NPD process, specifically the initial stages and applying it to the development of a seafood concept that uses sea vegetables.

Belinda Boyle

Online alcohol sales – consideration of the impact on minors of the current legal provisions and the public health consequences

Supervisors: Dr Brónagh Heverin, Dr Grainne Ketelaar

The transition towards online shopping has been accelerated by the pandemic and this has included online alcohol sales. The traditional retail platforms are under threat but there are additional risks associated with the online sale of alcohol. Excessive or inappropriate alcohol consumption poses significant negative public health implications and is therefore subject to extensive regulation to minimise the potential harm. The advent of online sales has presented a potential circumvention of these regulations with a consequential risk to public health. Underage drinking is a key concern in Ireland and there is a perception that online sales is exacerbating this issue through weak age verification processes. This research aims to consider this issue from two perspectives taking a collaborative multidisciplinary approach. Firstly, from a social and health perspective, where anecdotally the purchase of alcohol in this way can avoid the regulatory provisions and increase the risk to consumers and the likelihood of harm to underage consumers, and secondly from a regulatory perspective, to ascertain whether this alleged circumvention of the licensing legislation is arising as a result of potential gaps in the legislation or lack of enforcement of the current legislation.

There is a lack of any Irish research exploring frequency with which young people are accessing alcohol via both licensed and unlicensed alcohol delivery services. In an Alcohol Forum and ICAAN REDC Attitudes to Alcohol Licensing poll last May, 54% of adult respondents indicated that they were concerned that unregulated online/over the phone sale of alcohol is facilitating underage drinking in Ireland. Further research is needed in this area. Such information would support legislators to make decisions based on current and substantiated evidence.

Olivia Finnerty

Entrepreneurial orientation and its impact on social sustainability: The role of organisational learning

Supervisors: Dr George Onofrei, Prof Graham Heaslip, Dr Roisin Lyons, Dr Simon Stephens

There is a deficiency of research on social sustainability in relation to corporate entrepreneurship. This is surprising, considering that when sustainable methods fail, entrepreneurial efforts frequently provide solutions to those failures. The growing relevance of sustainable development presents challenges and risks which can be transformed into new opportunities for corporate entrepreneurship and innovation. Despite the necessity of corporate entrepreneurship and innovation for success, many organisations struggle to develop effective methods to engage their employees in these activities.

Entrepreneurial enterprises (EO) spend resources in innovation through building internal operational techniques and processes, as well as cultivating organisational learning (OL). EO conceptually aligns with OL, organisations with EO will aim to establish new procedures and practices from within the organisation’s limits. This enables organisations to overcome the learning hurdles posed by their internal sources of innovation and emphasises the significance of intra-firm collaboration as a method for promoting social sustainability.

A set of research hypotheses and a conceptual framework will be established through a thorough examination of the literature. The hypotheses and framework will be statistically assessed, and the policy and management consequences will be examined. This study’s data will be gathered from service and manufacturing enterprises on the island of Ireland. This research will add to the literature on corporate entrepreneurship, inventive behaviour, entrepreneurial businesses, and organizational learning, as well as communicate various theoretical and practical consequences.

Johanne Harrold

Measuring the impact of supply chain innovation on sustainability performance

Supervisors: Dr Vicky O’Rourke, Dr Aurora Dimache, Dr Michael Barrett, Dr George Onofrei

Firms who demonstrate an ability to innovative outperform competition in terms of sales growth, financial performance, and employment. Over the past 30 years, how to manage innovation successfully is of keen interest to academics and practitioners. Innovation management is now referred to as a managerial skill and should be executed as such. The competition has moved from company to supply chain (SC) level, and firms use SC capabilities to outperform their competitors.

SC innovation has received increased attention within the SC management domain, due to its potential to impact sustainability performance, effectiveness, and operational efficiency. Recent studies have highlighted three main SC innovation activities: marketing-oriented innovation activity (MOIA), technological development-oriented innovation activity (TDOIA), and logistics-oriented innovation activity (LOIA). There is a lack of empirical research that investigates the impact of such activities on sustainability performance. Studies have measured the impact of individual activities, however no study to date has taken an holistic approach and measured the impact of all three on the SC sustainability performance.

This study will contribute to the SC literature by developing a complementary and multidimensional conceptualisation of SC innovation and will empirically assess the impact on sustainability performance. From a practical perspective, the conceptual framework will enable SC managers to better understand the SC innovation and evaluate the degree to which investments in innovation impact organisational outcomes. Moreover, it will provide insights as how SC innovation enables companies to improve their sustainability performance.

Amy Hegarty

The development and validation of a multi-modal Model of Student Engagement

Supervisors: Dr Lydia Devenney, Dr Simon Stephens

As a result of a global pandemic, higher education practitioners have adopted novel teaching strategies to deliver lessons online and in a blended environment. Student engagement approaches and teaching and learning environments are evolving at speed. Therefore, it is increasingly important for policy makers, practitioners and researchers to measure and monitor student engagement and learning in an accurate and timely manner.

Common data sources used to make inferences about student engagement and learning include virtual learning environment (VLE) and student survey data (Nistor & Hernández-Garcíac, 2018). Learning analytics of each data source often operate in isolation and offer insights into idiosyncratic factors of student engagement and learning. A strategic multi-modal model of student engagement that combines subjective and objective measures will provide a comprehensive understanding of the tertiary journey (League of European Research Universities; LERU, 2021). In addition, the model will apply a multi-dimensional framework that incorporates the often cited behavioural, cognitive, and affective elements of student engagement (Balwant, 2018; Maroco, et al., 2016).

This MBS by Research will apply a top-down approach to learning analytics in accordance with the Society for Learning Analytics Research recommendations (Kitto et al., 2020) and a review of current computational models of student engagement will be carried out. Following this, items will be selected to represent factors of student engagement and subsequent validation will take place. The outcome will include behavioural, cognitive and affective factors that will shape a theoretical and evidence driven multi-modal method of measuring student engagement in higher education. This aligns with the recent Higher Education Authority Bill (2022) in which the Irish government lists student engagement and the use of student surveys for enhancement as a priority for future higher education enhancement endeavours (, 2022).

Zayad Muhammad Jibrin

Exploring digital academic entrepreneurship in 3rd level institutions in Ireland

Supervisors: Dr Sarah Diffley, Dr Isobel Cunningham

The development of academic entrepreneurship in a digital perspective provides valuable opportunities for universities to enhance the student learning experience and develop an entrepreneurial mindset among students (Secundo et al., 2021). For both universities and industry, the opportunities for relationships that give way to research, funding, the development of new offerings and the education of employees exists (Secundo et al. 2020:a). Research such as the proposed acts as a means of developing theory in this emergent area and capitalising upon the opportunities offered by digital academic entrepreneurship.

This study is addressing gaps in the field of digital entrepreneurship. It is recognised as an important area of research within the field of entrepreneurship however, research remains fragmented (Garcez et al., 2021) and inadequately addressed (Secundo et al., 2020:b). HEI Innovate (2022) outlined the importance of fostering a digital culture to further help develop and support innovation and entrepreneurship. This research will contribute to this under researched area, exploring digital academic entrepreneurship in third level institutions in Ireland. Specifically, digital academic entrepreneurship activities currently being undertaken, opportunities and industry perspectives will be investigated. The findings of this research will be disseminated at a conference and seminars.

Saima Karim

Investigation and mapping the presence of clusters in the North-West region of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Supervisors: Dr Isobel Cunningham, Dr Laura Bradley

Research Project Information: Clusters have become a global policy tool/instrument used by Governments and regional development organisations to encourage competitiveness, innovation and growth in a region or a nation. Clusters development initiatives are an important new direction in economic policy. They provide a way to understand the interplay between location, regional value chains and local specialisation patterns. The concept of clusters has been well known for a long time, however the advances in the way clusters are identified and measured has opened up new insights into their role and value in modern economies.

The Cross Border Centre recognises that the North West region boasts world class clusters in a variety of sectors including Fintech, professional and business services, life sciences and marine (2020). This however has not been quantified or researched. This study aims to identify, map and measure clusters which are located in the cross-border region in the North West of Ireland with a focus on fintech (financial technologies) clusters.

Much of the initial research on clusters is driven by case studies. Over the last decade, however, the development of comprehensive datasets on the presence of clusters through ‘cluster mapping’ has opened the potential to a new phase of research. The V-Linc Cluster Group, based in Munster University, has built on this research and focused on implementation of cluster initiatives around the world.

In this project we build on previous research by investigating the presence of clusters in the North West region of Ireland including cross-border. It will analyse and map the cluster(s) utilising the V-LINC methodology and will articulate the strengths of the clusters and its membership benefits.

Ruth Keogh

The Role of Contemporary Design Pedagogy in Tertiary Education – Design Thinking or Design Skills?

Supervisors: Cróna O Donoghue, Dr Tena Patten

This research project will explore the role of design pedagogy in tertiary institutions within the Department of Design and Creative Media. With the creative industries continuing to evolve and change in a relatively unpredictable design future, it seeks to evaluate the pedagogical systems in place for students in design-led courses by investigating the creative processes, design-thinking skills and practical skills currently employed by educators and ensuring that they are meeting the needs of design-specific employers. It will also explore how design pedagogy could potentially be adapted to be more discipline-specific within the creative media sector.

It will involve an extensive review of current pedagogical literature and will adopt a qualitative research approach by linking with both graduates and design-specific employers through a variety of interviews, focus groups and surveys. There is potential for an auto-ethnographic approach to research to critically compare the different educational approaches demonstrated by third level educators in various design-led courses.

The findings will be published in appropriate academic journals with a primary outcome of enhancing current literature on design pedagogy, increasing the employability of design graduates and informing best practice for design educators, on both a local and national level. The research will be disseminated at appropriate design conferences, and both internally and externally in the university – strengthening an already robust design department here in ATU.

Lorcán Mason

The Relationship Between Sleep, Nutrition, and Injury Risk in Elite GAA Academy Players.

Supervisors: Dr Rónán Doherty, Mr Karl Lacey, Dr James Connolly, Dr Lydia Devenney, Dr Jim O’Donovan

Adequate sleep and nutrition habits are vital for recovery and adaptation from training. Adolescent athletes have increased sleep needs and require adequate nutrition to support not only adaptation, but also growth and development. Sleep requirements differ across the lifespan but for sleep to have a restorative effect on the body, it must be of adequate duration and quality. Previous research has suggested that inadequate sleep (<8h) and poor diet are linked to injury risk in adolescent athletes.

The aim of this study is to assess the sleep and nutrition habits of elite underage Gaelic footballers and investigate potential links to injury risk.

The players will wear a sleep monitor (Actiwatch 2) for 7 days and complete the abridged Nutrition For Sport Knowledge Questionnaire (A-NSKQ). A subset of the sample will also have their sleep habits assessed using the gold standard polysomnography (PSG [Cerebra Prodigy portable PSG system]).

As sleep is vital to maintain physical and mental health, recovery, and performance, the results of this study could be used to inform both training structure and the recovery protocols of elite GAA academies. An assessment of the sleep and nutrition habits of adolescent athletes in relation to injury risk could inform the development of an athlete development curriculum designed to educate coaches and young athletes about the importance of sleep and nutrition in recovery, adaptation, and performance.

Demi Buchanan

Can telecollaboration revitalise language teaching in the Donegal region?

Supervisors: Dr Úna Carthy, Dr Ruth Lennon, Robert O’Dowd

The government’s Languages Connect Strategy has prioritised linguistic skills as having a major role to play in Ireland’s future prosperity, setting ambitious targets for both second and third level education. In addition to increasing the numbers learning languages, the strategy has also prioritised the role that international mobility plays in motivating and encouraging language learning. Traditionally, however, Ireland’s participation is Erasmus Plus mobility programmes has been low and innovative pedagogical practices will be required to promote it. Since it first emerged 20 years ago, telecollaboration has provided authentic communication channels for learners of many languages, enabling them to enhance their linguistic and intercultural skills on virtual platforms. In addition to the intercultural and linguistic skills acquired through virtual exchange, prior studies have also highlighted the role it plays in developing digital skills, as learners navigate around virtual platforms.

However, the full potential of these platforms has yet to be realised in the Donegal region and could be harnessed by introducing virtual exchange to pupils at second level. This proposal seeks to align the Donegal region with the national strategy, by investigating knowledge of and attitudes towards telecollaboration among both teachers and learners in second level schools. The findings of this study will lead to the upskilling of language teachers in the competencies required to engage in virtual exchanges and to the revitalisation of language learning in the region, thereby ultimately equipping Ireland’s workforce with 21st century skills.

Michael Leadley

Generation Z: Exploring trust building strategies for marketing communications in the e-retailing sector

Supervisors: Dr Vicky O’Rourke, Dr Sarah Diffley

By 2030, Gen Z’s income is expected to research $33 trillion, a five-fold increase in the space of a decade, surpassing that of Millennials (McKeever, 2020). Literature illustrates that as the first ‘true’ digital natives, Gen Z differ to other generations in terms of consumption activities and brand relationships (Francis, 2019). Despite these differences, Gen Z are often treated in the same manner as preceding generations (Priporas et al., 2017). As outlined by Conick (2019) “Many brands market to Gen Z as if they are Millennials. This is largely due to both generations being technologically savvy, as most Millennials and Gen Z members can manoeuvre the digital world with ease. However, these two generations should never be lumped together. Millennials are cord-cutters while Gen Z never had cords to cut. Their use of devices that aren’t tethered to a physical location is a symbol of the freedom Gen Z feels from traditional social norms”. This is borne out in their changing consumption behaviour. Gen Z are sceptical of social media appeals, while also reluctant to trust traditional media sources
(Deloitte, 2019).

In 2020, e-commerce revenue for retailers grew by a 159% (Coleman, 2021). Online-only brands and fast fashion are succeeding while some of most recognisable high street retailers are struggling. A greater degree of research is necessary to understand how retailers can develop strategies that enable the building of trust among Gen Z consumers, supporting their unique information search and purchase behaviours.

Liam Porter

Expanding the horizons of Design Thinking

Supervisors: Dr Tena Patten, Crona O’Donoghue

This research will explore the range and depth of Design Thinking methodologies deployed by organisations in Ireland. It will involve: an extensive literature review; a large scale survey of organisations currently deploying Design Thinking methodologies; and in-depth engagements with practitioners of Design Thinking, using think-aloud and diary-based qualitative research methods. Research participants will be selected from existing data sets such as American Chamber of Commerce, national Chambers of Commerce, BIC/Colab companies, ISME and IBEC, all of whom will offer further depth to the understanding of the research topic. An adaptable framework for organisations interested in implementing Design Thinking philosophies will be designed. The results of the research will be disseminated at conferences and in appropriate academic journals. The operational framework which will be designed as an outcome of this research will be of use regionally and nationally in a variety of commercial and community sectors. This research will enhance the existing literature on Design, Design Thinking, and related business philosophies and, thus, should be of use to organisations, and to support agencies, sponsors and academics.

Brian Walsh

Embedding experiential learning into an accounting programme

Supervisors: Suzanne Roarty, Dr Deirdre McClay

Recent literature in accounting education questions its relevance to students, to the accounting profession, and to stakeholders in the wider community, due to the advent of the 4th industrial revolution (Artificial Intelligence). There is a new focus in the accounting profession on the skills needed in our rapidly changing world with studies finding that core competencies to be successful in this era are different from those from the 3rd industrial revolution and that accounting students are not being adequately equipped with these (Djankov and Saliola, 2019; Wolff and Booth 2016). Employers are calling for a shift in what is taught and how it is taught and suggesting more pedagogies that immerse students in active and effortful work (Andrade, 2016) including experiential learning (IFAC, 2021).

This study seeks to address work readiness competencies of undergraduate accounting students on the Bachelor of Business (Hons) Accounting programme at LYIT by designing and piloting a tailored experiential learning intervention based on advice from key stakeholders (academics and industry) and in partnership with accounting students. It will introduce innovative pedagogies using an action research methodology whose iterative cycles will facilitate development, piloting, delivery and evaluation of initiatives.

The project builds on knowledge and research from past funded projects in both Law and Business in LYIT which can be disseminated internally and externally. It will help to empower and engage accounting students, enhance both the programme and team knowledge/research experience, and strengthen links with regional accounting professionals.

Catherine White

Best practice in the creation of authentic and creative cellar-door visitor experiences in the Irish craft beverage tourism sector

Supervisors: Dr Conor McTiernan, Dr Elizabeth McKenzie

With over 9.5 million overseas visitors and c13 million domestic trips within the island of Ireland, tourism contributes over €9.5bn to the Irish economy, supporting 177,700 jobs in 2019 or 7.6% of total employment. In terms of food and beverage tourism, Fáilte Ireland estimate that one-third of all tourism expenditure relates to the purchase of foods, beverages and, importantly, food and beverage experiences such as visits to producers and food festivals. An increasingly important element of such experiences is the visitation to craft beverage tourism visitor centers such as micro-breweries and micro-distilleries. As of 2019, there were 137 craft beverage producers in Ireland, an increase 105% since 2008. In a 2018 study of 50 sample craft producers, 8 had and 36 planned to develop a tourism visitor center, subject to the Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2018.

As the Act clarifies and defines the guidelines for craft beverage tourism providers, the rationale for this study is to explore best practices in the development of craft beverage tourism at both the single business unit and collectively at a sectoral level. Through the collection of desk-based research and quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, this project contributes to the development of an internationally recognised, authentic and sustainable niche tourism offering that is desired by a growing number of dedicated food and beverage tourists and the culturally curious visitor. The project will benefit not only the craft beverage tourism sector, significantly it will also positively contribute to their host communities.

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, Dr 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: Dr 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.