College of Business and Law - Doctoral Theses

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    Mutual fund performance: timing and persistence
    (University College Cork, 2023-04-24) Yin, Zhengnan; O'Sullivan, Niall; Sherman, Meadhbh; University College Cork; China Scholarship Council
    We apply the nonparametric methodology of Jiang (2003) to examine whether bond mutual funds can time the bond market by adjusting their portfolios' market exposure based on anticipated market movement. This approach has several advantages over the widely used regression-based tests such as Treynor-Mazuy(1966) and Henrikkson and Merton (1981). Using a large sample free of survivorship bias from the US, UK, and China, we find some evidence of positive market timing of bond funds at the individual fund level. On average, bond funds show neutral to slightly negative market timing ability. After controlling for public information, we find that a number of bond funds successfully time the market based on private timing signals. In terms of categories, we find strong evidence of positive market timing for Government bond funds as a group, consistent with the findings of Huang and Wang(2014). We apply a nonparametric methodology to test the liquidity timing skills across individual equity mutual funds in three countries(the US, UK, and China). We calculate the monthly stock market liquidity using simple averages and the asymptotic principle analysis(APCA) method based on six stock liquidity measures. Using an across-measure of market liquidity from APCA, we find a relatively small number of funds demonstrate statistically positive liquidity timing skills at a 5% significance level for the period of 2000-2021. After controlling the lagged market liquidity information, we still find a small number of mutual funds that have conditional liquidity timing ability using the nonparametric method. We analyze the performance of asset allocation funds based on the best-fit multifactor model, including both stock and bond market factors. Using US and UK data, we find asset allocation funds do not outperform their benchmarks on average. We use both Treynor and Mazuy(1966) and Henrikkson and Merton (1981) methods to test the stock and bond market timing ability of allocation funds. As groups, US and UK asset allocation funds have neutral to perverse stock market timing ability. However, UK allocation funds have positive bond market timing ability. At the individual fund level, there is a range of funds that demonstrate positive stock market timing as well as bond market timing ability for both markets. We then test the performance persistence of these funds using an innovative bootstrap method to control for the non-normality issue in fund returns. We find little evidence of performance persistence for US funds for both decile portfolios and small-size portfolios. There is some evidence of performance persistence for UK funds using decile and small-size portfolios.
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    Regional cooperation for the establishment and management of transboundary marine protected areas: a reflection on normative shifts in international environmental law
    (University College Cork, 2022) Enright, Sarah Ryan; McIntyre, Owen; O'Hagan, Anne Marie; Havforskningsinstituttet; Irish Marine Institute; Science Foundation Ireland
    The purpose of this thesis is to examine the extent of the legal obligations of States under international law to conserve marine biodiversity via the establishment of transboundary marine protected areas (MPAs) across international jurisdictions. The main argument presented will demonstrate that while the science underpinning conservation of marine biodiversity and ecological connectivity has evolved to recommend transboundary networks of MPAs, the relevant international legal framework has not evolved in parallel to support their designation and implementation, resulting in limited and ad hoc approaches globally, ranging from traditional legally binding multilateral options under the United Nations Regional Seas Programme to non-legally binding voluntary agreements. In particular, this thesis sets out to examine to what extent international environmental law and the law of the sea facilitate and support cooperation between States in creating transboundary MPAs, in particular at the regional level.
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    The critical success factors for Security Education, Training and Awareness (SETA) programme effectiveness: a lifecycle model
    (University College Cork, 2023-01-09) Alyami, Areej; Sammon, David; Neville, Karen Mary; Mahony, Carolanne; Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau
    Security Education, Training, and Awareness (SETA) programmes are one of the most important cybersecurity strategies to protect the valuable assets of any organisation, raise awareness, change behaviour, comply with Information Systems (IS) security policy, and minimises IS security threats. The significance of SETA programmes is widely accepted by both academics and practitioners. However, more research is needed to improve SETA programme effectiveness in organisations. A review of the relevant IS/cyber security literature reveals a lack of research into the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for SETA programme effectiveness. Therefore, this research study explores the CSFs for SETA programme effectiveness. A multi-stage research design is adopted for this research study. Stage One involves the gathering and analysis of lived experiences (using semi-structured interviews) from 20 key expert informants. Emerging from this stage are 11 CSFs for SETA programme effectiveness. These CSFs are mapped along the phases of the SETA programme lifecycle (design, development, implementation, evaluation). Furthermore, 9 relationships between these CFSs are identified (both within and across the lifecycle phases). This research output is a Lifecycle Model of CSFs for SETA programme effectiveness. Stage Two of this research involves an evaluation of the importance of the 11 CSFs for SETA programme effectiveness (emerging from stage one). This evaluation is achieved through administering a short online survey questionnaire (completed by 65 respondents - IS/cyber security professionals) and a series of follow-up probing interviews (with 9 IS/cyber security professionals – 4 key informants for stage one, and 5 survey respondents for stage two). Emerging from this stage is a ranked list of CSFs and 5 guiding principles to overcome the challenges of delivering an effective SETA programme. This research output is an evaluated Lifecycle Model of CSFs for SETA programme effectiveness. Overall, this research provides a depth of insight contributing to both theory and practice and lays the foundation for further research.
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    Democratising data governance: theorising workaround-centric data activities as patterns of action
    (University College Cork, 2023) Wibisono, Arif; Sammon, David; Heavin, Ciara; Higher Education Authority; University College Cork; Kementerian Keuangan Republik Indonesia
    Data issues are detrimental and costly for organisations. So, this study investigates how employees pragmatically execute patterns of action to fix data issues. Each pattern is built upon linked workaround-centric data activities (WCDA), which are overlooked in current data governance and workaround research. Five field studies in Indonesian organisations are conducted to achieve this objective. They include a plantation company, a furniture manufacturer, a hospital, a government agency, and a university. As the research roadmap, this study conceptualises workaround-centric data issues (WCDI) and activities (WCDA) from workaround literature as taxonomies. Next, it extends a narrative network approach to model WCDA. In the end, it investigates five organisations to capture two things. First, it captures WCDA patterns of action to fix data issues. Second, it captures how employees identify data issues before fixing them. This research reveals several findings. First, workaround literature suggests that data availability and accuracy are the most frequently occurring issues. Second, the empirical work suggests that data availability and accuracy issues introduce six action patterns. It reveals that evaluate data (part of WCDA) is the common denominator for these patterns. Third, as part of evaluating data, employees execute five "checking" approaches to identify data issues: check data templates, check supervisor validation, check data accuracy, check data consistency, and check data completeness. There are three significant contributions to data governance and workaround research. First, this study challenges the mainstream assumption in data governance research. It suggests that addressing data issues must be preventive practices (e.g., pre-determined, top-down, and before the data are produced). This research shows that curative practices (e.g., reactive, bottom-up, and after the data are produced) are the norm. They exist to address immediate data needs such as managerial reporting. Second, this research challenges two widely held assumptions in workaround research: 1) a workaround is an atomic process, and 2) a workaround is an isolated process. It opens the workaround black box and shows that a workaround can consist of interlinked WCDA (e.g., a pattern of action). So, a workaround is neither atomic nor isolated. Third, this study progresses our understanding of WCDA and their relationships (as patterns of action). It identifies WCDA types from the literature. After that, it identifies WCDA patterns to address data issues from field studies. These patterns provide non-managerial employees with plausible pictures to govern data with minimal top-management intervention. These patterns allow employees to reflect on their work and present these creative practices to top management whenever necessary. Therefore, these patterns democratise data governance in organisations by making governance meaningful for operational employees. In the end, this research discusses theoretical contributions and managerial implications for data governance research and practices.
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    Developing indicators of the social sustainability of farming using the Teagasc National Farm Survey
    (University College Cork, 2022) Brennan, Mary; Hennessy, Thia; Dillon, Emma; Teagasc
    The emergence of agricultural and food sustainability as a major societal objective has resulted in a considerable shift in the focus and design of EU policy relating to agriculture, food, and rural development. As such, the dimensions of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) are reflected in the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2027. The monitoring and evaluation of policy is a key element of the new CAP and consequently, there exists a need for harmonised multidimensional indicators to gauge progress towards specific sustainability targets. Moreover, the transition of the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) to the Farm Sustainability Data Network (FSDN) reflects the commitment of the European Commission to enhancing sustainable farming practices, and this necessitates an expansion of existing farm level indicators to improve policy monitoring and evaluation, particularly with regard to social and environmental metrics. In response to this policy need, this thesis aims to contribute to the ongoing development of sustainability metrics at the farm level, cognisant of evolving policy themes and drivers impacting Irish and European agriculture, and focuses on social indicators of sustainability. Indicators to assess the economic, and more recently, environmental sustainability of agricultural systems have dominated much of the sustainability discourse to date, with little on the assessment of social sustainability. The broad nature of social sustainability does not lend itself readily to measurement by conventional, quantitative means. An extensive review of the literature suggests that agricultural social sustainability can be considered as either ‘internal’ (relating to farmer wellbeing) and ‘external’ (at societal level)’, encompassing animal welfare and community wellbeing. Expanding on this ‘internal’ and ‘external’ classification, and following consultation with stakeholders, this thesis categorises social sustainability into dimensions reflecting farmer, animal and community wellbeing, and identifies relevant indicators for each dimension. Farmer wellbeing incorporates elements relating to quality of life (i.e. working hours, stress etc.), animal wellbeing consolidates herd level welfare data, while community wellbeing examines indicators measuring multifunctionality, service accessibility and heritage and culture (including generational renewal). Statistical analysis of data collected through a special survey, in addition to supporting socio-demographic data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) relayed key information on the social sustainability of Irish farms. From a farmer wellbeing perspective, this research finds that dairy farmers are more likely to experience farm related stress relative to operators of cattle, sheep or tillage systems. In addition to a stress assessment, this thesis assessed farmer wellbeing levels through the development of a composite index, the Farmer Sustainability Index (FSI), comprising indicators which reflect farm continuity, community and social connections, and farmer comfort. The FSI indicates that farmers working in the cattle sector, of older age profile, and residing in more peripheral regions experience relatively lower levels of wellbeing. Indicators assessing community wellbeing reveal regional variation, with communities in the Border and West performing less well in terms of wellbeing compared to other regions. In terms of farm continuity, a higher proportion of dairy farmers have identified a successor. Moreover, in terms of animal wellbeing, representative data from the NFS finds that welfare on dairy farms has remained relatively stable during an expansionary phase following EU milk quota abolition in 2015. These findings indicate that farm level social sustainability varies considerably by farm system and subsequently region. Variations in the FSI scores and those of its components reveal the extent to which farm heterogeneity influences wellbeing levels. Additionally, the underlying farm economic and socio-demographic attributes are influential. This serves to highlight difficulties in applying a common policy approach in the pursuit of improved social sustainability across farm systems with differing wellbeing needs. As the FADN expands its remit to better encapsulate sustainability through the FSDN, it is imperative that additional social sustainability indicators are developed. This thesis finds that, with modifications, the FADN framework retains the ability to effectively assess and collect social sustainability metrics for European farms. Indeed the Teagasc National Farm Survey has been at the forefront in this regard, devising a bank of social sustainability indicators and providing a roadmap for data collection and analysis. This research contributes to the discourse on agricultural social sustainability measurement, through the development of a range of indicators reflective of farmer, animal and community wellbeing dimensions. Recommendations for future data collection and research are also provided.