NUI Galway Business School Academics Awarded €1.1 Million SFI Grant Scheme

Professor John McHale, Dean of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics and Dr Alma McCarthy, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Discipline of Management of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway
Mar 14 2018 Posted: 12:05 GMT

Two senior academics from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, have been awarded €1.1 million by Science Foundation Ireland’s Science Policy Research Programme, facilitating doctoral degrees that will generate important new policy insights that can help to bolster Ireland’s knowledge economy.

Professor John McHale, Dean of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics and
Dr Alma McCarthy, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Discipline of Management, have been awarded grants, aimed at aligning the policies behind Irish science with current best practices. The funds awarded through the research scheme will support research positions for both postdoctoral researchers and PhD students for a period of up to four years.

Professor John McHale’s project titled ‘The Impact of International Star Scientists on Irish Science’ was awarded €856,000. The research will explore how the arrival of a star researcher (high profile and renowned for their research) affects institutional performance in terms of inspiring incumbent scientists and the quality of subsequent research recruits. Professor McHale notes that the recruitment of a star researcher can have far-reaching impacts on an organisation and on regional innovation clusters. At a time of heightened interest in scientist mobility due to Brexit, this project aims to evaluate the effect of star recruitment policies on the performance of Irish science and the broader national innovation system.

Dr Alma McCarthy’s research project titled ‘Achieving Scientific Excellence and Impact in Ireland: The Role of Talent and Human Capital Management in National Science Foundations’ was awarded €255,000. Dr McCarthy’s project will research, develop and evaluate a talent management model for Science Foundation Ireland, drawing on best practice from four international science foundations globally. These organisations tend to differ from typical public sector organisations as they are characterised by high turnover, contract employment, and highly skilled staff.

Therefore, these organisations merit particular research attention in order to better understand specific organisational and contextual factors impacting talent management. The human capital of these leading science funding agencies allows them to impact their nation’s economic and social development effectively and efficiently. Dr McCarthy’s project will employ a cross-national research design across five small advanced and larger economies to set forth a guide for best international practice. The project will also assist Science Foundation Ireland in meeting its Agenda 2020 objectives through effective talent management.  

Speaking about the grant in the context of her research project, Dr Alma McCarthy from
NUI Galway, said: “The availability and development of talent and human capital is a key strategic Human Resource issue facing most knowledge-intensive organisations in developed economies such as Ireland. This research grant will enable us to examine how Science Foundation Ireland can attract, manage and develop talent and human capital to positively impact Ireland’s research capacity, infrastructure and impact.”

Commenting on the awards, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland added: “These awards will build critical knowledge to enable us to develop effective policies on how we fund, evaluate and disseminate scientific research. Building Ireland’s research capacity in science policy will help to solidify Ireland’s position in developing international best practice and encourage collaborations with international experts in the field.”


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