College of Business and Law - Doctoral Theses

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    Reforming mental condition defences and procedures in the criminal justice system in light of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    (University College Cork, 2023) Noonan, Michael Luke; O'Sullivan, Catherine; Whelan, Darius; Irish Research Council
    The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (C.R.P.D.) is the first human rights treaty of this century. It aims to ensure that persons with disabilities have full and effective inclusion in society and are not the subjects of discrimination. Support for the C.R.P.D. was unprecedented, attracting widespread approval from states in all regions, and achieving the highest number of signatories to a U.N. Convention on its opening day. Whilst most of its provisions have been welcomed, the interpretation of several key articles by U.N. bodies has led to some unanticipated issues of compliance with areas of the criminal justice system. It has been argued that the C.R.P.D. requires the abolition of any criminal defence which relieves or mitigates liability because of a disability, and any procedures that declare an accused unfit to be tried based on mental impairment. The relevant mental condition defences for this study provide a defence based on a mental condition caused by an internal factor (insanity, diminished responsibility, and infanticide). No State Party to the C.R.P.D. has shown any inclination to abolish mental condition defences or procedures due to a perception that the interpretations advanced by the U.N. bodies are flawed and unworkable. The summary documents of the drafting process of the treaty show that the potential impact of the C.R.P.D. on criminal justice issues received almost no consideration during negotiations. This means that there has been very little consideration of how criminal law could be reformed in a way that is compliant with the C.R.P.D. As Ireland plans to ratify the Optional Protocol, which permits individuals to complain to the Committee about a C.R.P.D. violation, it is important to conduct a review of domestic law to identify what changes are required. This study establishes that mental condition defences and procedures can be reformed in a way that is C.R.P.D. compliant without the necessity of abolition. To identify whether the existing law requires reform, a normative framework is constructed from principles derived from the C.R.P.D. and used throughout the thesis to improve compliance. The normative framework’s key principle is the prohibition of the deprivation of legal capacity based on a defect in mental capacity. It also provides that determinations of criminal liability which fail to treat persons with disabilities as equals to others are discriminatory and must be abolished. It is determined that the insanity defence could be made compliant with the C.R.P.D. by the creation of several new mental condition defences. It is proposed that the cognitive limb of insanity should be replaced by a legal rule which allows for evidence of a psychosocial disability to negate mens rea. The evaluative and volitional limbs should be replaced with a new defence which focuses on the defendant’s ability to generate alternative choices. The third new defence is for crimes without a subjective mens rea. These offences pose a particular challenge as they do not require moral fault. It is identified that, in exceptional circumstances, other human rights need to take priority and defendants who are incapable of receiving notice about the law because of a psychosocial disability should not be found liable. It is also found that the partial defences of diminished responsibility and infanticide infringe an offender’s right to legal capacity by holding them to a lesser standard of behaviour because of a disability. It is recommended that both defences should be abolished and replaced by discretionary sentencing for murder. Fitness to be tried hearings should be replaced with an assessment of what support is necessary for the accused to participate effectively in the trial.
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    An analysis of firm dynamics and seedbed role
    (University College Cork, 2023) O'Leary, Daragh; Power, Bernadette; Doran, Justin; Irish Research Council
    Firm dynamics research can be considered an important area of study given the relationship between firm dynamics and economic growth. Firm births can increase economic growth and employment (Doran et al., 2016). Meanwhile firm deaths can reduce economic growth via increases in unemployment (Arcuri et al., 2019). However, firm deaths can also reallocate resources and create market room within the economy for other firms (Carree and Dejardin, 2020). Additionally, the post-entry growth of firms is an important aspect of firm dynamics for economic growth because most of the growth derived from entrepreneurship comes from a very small number of high-performing firms (Shane, 2009). As such, some have recommended the prioritising of investment into firms with fast-growth potential to achieve optimal economic growth (Du and Vanino, 2021). The importance of firm dynamics to economic growth is such that government organisations and policymakers look to promote entrepreneurship to achieve economic growth (BE, 2020; EU, 2021). Therefore, research concerning the birth, death, and performance of firms can be considered of interest to governments and policymakers as well as the academic literature. This Thesis looks to contribute to the small firm dynamics literature (Hopenhayn, 1992). Using Eurostat, OECD, and Irish Central Statistics Office data, econometric analysis is used to produce four empirical research papers which examine firm interrelationships, the regional determinants of firm births and deaths, and how the seedbed role influences the performance of new start-ups. This analysis provides several contributions to the literature. Firstly, the competition and multiplier effects set out by Johnson and Parker (1994) are examined and particular interest is paid to analysing these effects across different countries and over different periods of time. Secondly, the role of urbanisation and localisation economies as well as externalities related to regional diversification are examined in determining firm births and deaths across different countries while controlling for the mitigating effect of firm interrelationships. Thirdly, the role of relatedness is incorporated into firm interrelationships to see how competition and multiplier effects operate across different sectors (related and unrelated). Finally, a contribution is made to the literature concerning seedbed role, described by Beesley and Hamilton (1984), by analysing the influence of the seedbed process on the post-entry performance of new Irish firms. The findings of the analyses on firm interrelationships indicate that firm interrelationships can change across time and sectors. Evidence of the multiplier is observed over one year where firm births appear to increase firm births the following year. However, over two and three years, evidence for the competition effect is found whereby firm births can increase firm deaths in two- and three-years’ time and that firm deaths can increase firm births in two years’ time. Furthermore, multiplier effects appear more likely to occur between firms in related sectors and competition effects appear more likely to occur between firms in unrelated sectors. Significant variations in firm birth and death rates are also observed across countries. Findings regarding regional factors as determinants of firm births and deaths indicate that both urbanisation and localisation economies increase firm births and decrease firm deaths. Related variety appears to reduce firm births and increase firm deaths, while unrelated variety is found to increase firm births and decrease firm deaths. Finally, the seedbed process is shown to influence the growth of new Irish start-ups as firms set up by individuals who previously worked at firms which died are themselves more likely to die and more likely to have lower mean annual employment growth during their existence. However, they are also more likely to exhibit fast-firm growth at some point during their existence. Implications for policy and contributions for the literature are discussed in the Thesis.
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    The importance of non-bank lending to small businesses
    (University College Cork, 2023) McGeown, Eimear; Power, Bernadette; Shinnick, Edward
    This thesis investigates the role of non-bank debt in the SME finance ecosystem in Ireland. Non-bank debt is defined as external debt, contractually provided by formal institutions other than banks. An important source of funding to large firms, non-bank debt has more recently emerged as a significant source of SME finance, both nationally and internationally (CBI, 2021a; Gopal and Schnabl, 2022). This thesis examines the characteristic of SME lenders, borrowers and the impact of non-bank debt on firm performance. On the supply side novel data gathered through fieldwork with non-bank lenders is used to identify the characteristics on the non-bank lenders. On the demand side, secondary data from the Irish Central Statistics Office’s Access to Finance Survey is used to examine the characteristics of SME firms that use non-bank debt. In addition, secondary data from the Irish Department of Finance’s SME Credit Demand Survey is employed to examine the impact of the use of non-bank debt on SME firm performance. Despite its importance as a source of SME funding, there is little research on the SME non-bank lending sector. This is mainly due to the lack of data as the sector is not prudentially regulated. This thesis addresses this gap by gathering primary data in face-to-face interviews with 40 non-bank lenders from Q2, 2019 to Q1, 2020 to describe the characteristics of the non-bank lending market in Ireland. This study is the only supply-side study on SME non-bank debt. It generates a number of key findings. Specifically, it finds that (1) non-bank debt is reducing the funding gap for bank rejected borrowers; (2) non-bank lenders use both transaction and relationship lending technologies to screen and monitor borrower firms; (3) collateral is important to non-bank lenders in overcoming information asymmetry; and (4) non-bank lenders differ from bank lenders in their provision of more diverse and bespoke lending products. These features assist the non-bank lenders in closing the funding gap for small and medium SME firms but not for micro or young borrowers. On the demand-side the thesis contributes to the literature by examining the non-bank lending channel inclusive of all the non-bank debt lending technologies. The focus on non-bank debt reflects the SME preference for debt and the policy focus on reducing SME dependence on bank debt. Whilst banks are expected to continue as the dominant source of SME finance, the growth of non-bank lending, particularly for higher risk borrowers, appears to contradict the financial intermediation literature which asserts that banks are best able to monitor opaque firms through their lending relationships. However, it is reflective of the changing nature of the borrower-bank relationship and structural changes in the banking sector (consolidation and rationalisation) and developments in the use of transactional lending technologies, innovation and technology to screen and monitor borrowers. The thesis also examines the impact of non-bank debt on SME firm performance differentiating from previous studies examining the effect of fund sources on firm performance (Li et al., 2018; López-Gracia and Sogorb-Mira, 2008; Michaelas et al., 1999; Sogorb-Mira, 2005; Trinh et al., 2017) by differentiating between the bank and non-bank lending channel. This novel finding highlights the importance of controlling for credit risk when assessing the impact of capital structure on firm performance. This study highlights the negative impact of finance gaps on firm performance and the importance of a resilient debt sector for SME performance, allocative efficiency, and growth within an economy. Structural changes to the SME finance model were in response to the financial crisis. Given the importance of the SME sector and the challenges ahead including economic and environmental shocks, governments need to understand the non-bank sector and its impact on the supply and demand for funds to support business growth and the performance of small firms. Policy makers should consider addressing the micro enterprises funding gap using the credit union model. Governments need to engage with, and monitor, the non-bank debt sector to fully understand both the benefits and risks to the sector. In particular, the non-bank funding model should be reviewed for cyclicality and subsidised funding, particularly for SME investments in targeted areas such as greening supply chains and digitisation. SMEs need to be educated on the alternatives to bank finance and on financial literacy, so that they can signal their ability to repay and avail of non-bank funding products.
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    To build an information systems (IS) security controls integration and implementation roadmap for optimal security maturity
    (University College Cork, 2023) Akerele, Iretioluwa; Neville, Karen Mary; Woodworth, Simon
    With the advancement of technology for conducting business, organisations rely on information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) to enhance their business and create new opportunities. The main security goal of organisations globally is to reduce threats and vulnerabilities before they become a potential risk. As the world is connected digitally and IS security threats are unending, it is necessary for organisations to implement IS security controls to enhance their security posture and to protect their intellectual property and sensitive data. New and emerging technologies have led to the introduction of security tools and solutions to reduce the potential risks of cyber threats and attacks. To contribute to literature and industry practice by addressing the gaps in the IS community and enhancing organisation’s security posture to reduce potential risks, this research aims to build an IS security controls integration and implementation roadmap for optimal security maturity. The roadmap consists of six steps to guide organisations to identify their IS security controls, prioritise and use the controls, integrate the controls and implement actions, where necessary. To achieve the above objective, the researcher adopted the interpretivist paradigm and qualitative approach to gather in-depth insights into the gaps and current practice in the IS security domain. The qualitative approach used in this research comprises of four methods which are surveys, interviews, focus group sessions and document analysis. An initial assessment was conducted with 55 IS security professionals using a survey to ascertain the types of IS security controls that are used in their organisation. A field study was conducted for key informants in IS security across 13 sectors to ensure comprehensive data gathering that captures the richness of the findings. A focus group session was also conducted with 8 IS security practitioners to validate the outcome of some of the IS security controls from the interview. In addition, best practice documentation was reviewed, analysed, and compared with the IS security controls identified in this research. The findings of this research are summarised as follows. i) There is a lack of synergy between the IS academic community and industry practice in the research and usage of IS security controls. This finding was presented using an IS security landscape and framework. ii) The integration of IS security controls show that there are high and low priority controls in organisations. There are several limitations affecting the full integration of controls. These include cost, organisational sector, size, and context. iii) The design of security solutions is affected by challenges like security incidents and compliance issues. Additionally, some good practices that have helped organisations in designing security solutions were identified. The good practices are linked to the controls required for effective IS security implementation. This research contributes to the IS security literature by investigating the current state of the IS community with regards to information security and IS security; suggesting a balance between research and practice to tackle the prevalent threats in information security; identifying the domain areas in academic literature where more work is required and making suggestions to the IS community to contribute to these areas in solving bigger information security challenges faced in sectors. A final contribution of this research is an IS security roadmap that shows the integration of the IS security controls using a six-step process. The IS security roadmap addresses the research questions and overall objective of the research. The researcher proposes that the roadmap is applicable to any organisation, irrespective of its size and sector.
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    Motivations, incentives, and commitments: financial benefits and citizen participation in onshore wind energy in Ireland
    (University College Cork, 2023) le Maitre, Julia; Ryan, Geraldine; Power, Bernadette; Horizon 2020; Irish Research Council; Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
    Social acceptance of onshore wind energy is a fundamental constraint for the delivery of sustainable electricity supply (Wüstenhagen et al., 2007). For a country such as the Republic of Ireland, this is a significant impediment to the decarbonisation of the energy sector (Brennan et al., 2017; Hallan and González, 2020; Van Rensburg et al., 2015), since onshore wind energy is expected to increase from approximately a third of the electricity mix to 80% by 2030 (SEAI, 2023). In 2019, Ireland introduced the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme with the aim of quadrupling its supply of onshore wind energy. The policy introduced a variety of financial benefits directed towards local communities to facilitate social acceptance, including community benefit funding and incentives focused on households closest to the wind farm, in the form of ‘near-neighbour’ compensation (DECC, 2021). The scheme also opened consideration for a new mechanism to encourage citizen investment into wind farms (DCCAE, 2020). The novelty, scope, and value of these mechanisms underscore the need for detailed research to identify how they could be designed and implemented to enhance their fairness, benefit, and acceptance. This thesis asks how specific attributes of financial participation mechanisms aimed at enhancing social acceptance influence citizens' willingness to accept, or to invest in, wind farms in their community. This thesis is based on two specialised surveys to examine how Irish citizens trade-off between different features of wind farm developments and their associated financial benefits. The research provides detailed insights into the preferences of supporters, conditional supporters, and non-supporters for wind farm developments in the community and presents recommendations concerning distributive and procedural issues across each phase of project development. Firstly, the findings show that citizens’ preferences for the distribution of financial benefits from wind farms are affected by procedural factors over planning, construction, and operation. Community participation in the governance of the community benefit fund and in the ownership of the wind farm have particularly high relative importance for strong supporters of wind farms. In addition, the developer and the proximity of the wind farm strongly influence willingness to accept. Secondly, the thesis contributes new evidence towards the design of citizen wind energy investments, and reveals a strong relationship between community acceptance, the proximity of the wind farm, and citizen investment preferences. Overall, financial attributes including the level of risk and expected return on investment have the greatest influence on citizen investment. However, the structure of voting rights, ownership and administration of the investment are generally regarded as having a higher relative importance if the wind farm is within 2km of the community, or a respondent is supportive of wind energy development. Thirdly, familiarity with a wind farm, whether a result of its proximity or phase of development, is a significant determinant of residents’ willingness to accept further development in the community. Critical points for local support of wind farms are at the earliest pre-planning / planning phases of development, as well as for households within the 2km radius of a wind farm. Other latent factors, such as attitudes towards wind electricity, trust in information provided by a developer, or awareness of community energy initiatives significantly affect community acceptance. Lastly, a comparative case study analyses the design of financial benefits, citizen investment and near-neighbour incentives in Ireland with corresponding mechanisms introduced by Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Based on a critical assessment of the design and adaptation of policy mechanisms over time, the findings suggest that it is becoming more common for these governments to endorse the development of community trusts or municipality community benefit funds. It also suggests that community-led wind farms experience difficulties related to the competitive nature of the auction regime. The chapter recommends that when defining eligibility or boundaries on citizen financial participation, policymakers could use a phased approach, first prioritising residents closest to a wind farm, and then opening opportunities across a wider geography in the second instance. The research is relevant for policy and practice. It enhances the understanding of citizens’ preferences for financial participation mechanisms in onshore wind farms, which is conducive to social acceptance and fairer local energy transitions. It would be valuable for future studies to develop on this evidence in the context of offshore wind energy and demand-side response which are increasingly important for the Irish energy transition. The diffusion of these innovative technologies similarly depends on citizen participation, fairness, and ultimately social acceptance.