Dr Felicity Kelliher reflects on her work with the Irish Research Council

Posted: 12 March, 2018

‘Meet the Council’ is a series of blog posts that will profile each of the twelve board members of the Irish Research Council who give their time and expertise to support our work. The blogs will feature their own background in research and why they #LoveIrishResearch.


My professional background…

I am a Senior Lecturer in Management at the School of Business, Waterford Institute of Technology and co-founder of the RIKON research group. I lecture on doctoral, master’s and executive programmes, specialising in business leadership, organisational behaviour and change management. I also supervise a number of PhD and DBA students, and co-deliver the MBA organisational change action research programme at WIT. Before entering academia, I worked internationally as a project manager in the technology sector.


I have a keen interest in sustainable rural business communities, having been raised in rural Ireland by parents who were also business owners. The vast majority of employers in the rural context are indigenous small and micro firms who may not know or have access to the support needed to engender success due to isolated geography or restricted access to governmental resources. It’s our responsibility to reach out to these firms to help optimise their potential. Through our research group, we have engaged with over 1200 small firms in service innovation, capability development and research-led learning initiatives, supported by Enterprise Ireland, INTERREG, Failte Ireland, and the Irish Research Council, among others.

My research focus is on management capability development, rural community engagement and learning in small and micro firms. Current research studies relate to the impact of trust on micro firm rural network engagement and the impact of facilitated networks on micro firm innovation capability development. These studies engage rural firms in retail, creative, tourism, production and agricultural sectors in Ireland, Canada, Wales and the U.S.  As an aspect of our management capability development research, we are also investigating practitioner–academic partnership in the design and delivery of small firm management development programs through applied teaching and learning tools.


My work with the Irish Research Council…

I’ve been serving on the Board of the Irish Research Council since September 2015 and am truly struck by the research diversity supported by the Council. Reflecting on the contents of the #LoveIrishResearch blog, it echoes the breadth of the research funded by the Council; the spectral artic, innovations in learning, smart farming and challenging violence through social media are all recent topics. I was equally struck by the inaugural researchers of the year acceptance speeches at the Council’s 15th anniversary celebrations in December. These young researchers are important advocates for social, political and medical evolution and reinforce my resolve that it’s our duty to ensure all research is supported, regardless of our own interest areas. Talent has no boundaries as we search for an optimised future.