100 Years of T.K. Whitaker

Establishment of Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway Photograph by Aengus McMahon

T.K. Whitaker, voted the Irishman of the 20th Century, is widely regarded as the architect of modern Ireland. A brilliant and dedicated public servant, his seminal 1958 blueprint for economic development transformed the Irish economy and set the course for an open Ireland to prosper in a globalised world. Dr Whitaker also played a pivotal role in the search for peace in Northern Ireland, and in the modernisation of Ireland’s public sector.

Today marks a very special occasion as we honour and pay tribute to 100 years of T.K. Whitaker. In today’s Irish Times, I write about why Whitaker’s work is as relevant as ever to today’s Ireland. And at the Whitaker Institute, leading academics speak about Whitaker’s legacy. And there is this great video from the Central Bank of Ireland celebrating 100 years of Whitaker. Breithlá Sona!





Regional Studies Association Annual Conference

The Annual RSA conference is on in Trinity College, Dublin this year from the 4th to the 7th of June. The programme looks fascinating. Harvard’s Ricardo Hausmann is among the keynote speakers.

Given the extended discussions being had across Ireland on housing policy, on spatial modeling and on ‘balanced regional development’, it promises to be a good conference.

Irish Economic Association Annual Conference 2017 call for papers

The 31st Annual Irish Economic Association Conference will be held in the Institute of Banking in Dublin on Thursday May 4th and Friday May 5th, 2017.

Frank Walsh from the school of economics UCD is the local organiser

Conference email: ieaconference2017@gmail.com

The ESR guest lecture will be given by Professor Deirdre McCloskey (University of Illinois at Chicago) and the Edgeworth Lecture by Professor John Muellbauer (University of Oxford).

The Association invites submissions of papers to be considered for the conference programme. Papers may be on any area in Economics, Finance or Econometrics.

The deadline for submitted articles is the 7th of February 2017 and submissions can be made through https://iea2017.exordo.com

Please circulate the call for papers amongst your colleagues especially younger researchers who may not be on the mailing list.


Human Resource Practices & Innovation

Academics and policy-makers agree that innovation is of critical importance for business productivity and growth, explaining the substantial body of research in this area. There is broad consensus that factors, such as R&D spend, firm age, firm size, sector, ownership and location, influence innovation performance, with many studies finding evidence of these relationships in Irish firms. Recently, with my colleague Frank Crowley, I have begun to investigate the influence of human resource practices on innovation performance.

A crucial element in firms’ strategic decision-making is the identification and effective harnessing of complementarities between different managerial activities, optimising resource use. Using Irish workplace data, we investigate if human resource practices can benefit innovation, particularly when applied together. These practices are not generally introduced for the purpose of improving innovation outcomes, but we find some evidence of ‘unintended consequences’ for innovation. Our primary findings are that bundles of HR practices relating to performance management and appraisal, knowledge sharing and involvement, and empowerment in decision making all are positively associated with innovation in manufacturing and service firms, and bundles of flexible employment contracts practices positively influence innovation in service firms. The full paper will be published in the International Journal of Innovation Management 


Independent Ireland in Comparative Perspective

I gave the economics lecture at the recent national conference at NUIG commemorating the centenary of the Easter Rising. I had three main messages. First, the economic history of post-independence Ireland was not particularly unusual. Very often, things that were happening in Ireland were happening elsewhere as well. Second, for a long time we were hampered by an excessive dependence on a poorly performing UK economy. And third, EC membership in 1973, and the Single Market programme of the late 1980s and early 1990s, were absolutely crucial for us. Irish independence and EU membership have complemented each other, rather than being in conflict: each was required to give full effect to the other. Irish independence would not have worked as well for us as it did without the EU; and the EU would not have worked as well for us as it did without political independence.

There is a podcast available here. Since only audio is available, here is a link to my slides. I’m working on a paper version of the talk and will post a link to this as soon as possible.