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Teagasc PhD Walsh Scholarship Opportunity - The role of Human Resource Management in Small Business: The Case of Irish Dairy Farms

University College Cork

Walsh Scholarship Ref Number: 2020203

Project Outline

It is increasingly acknowledged that effective people management plays a vital role in business success with a considerable literature that examines the links between human resource management (HRM) practices and various individual and organisational outcomes. Noteworthy is that this research overwhelmingly focuses on large organisations with much less work and debate surrounding small businesses. Consequently, there is limited understanding of the practice of HRM in small business and the link to key performance indicators. This knowledge deficit is especially apparent in the case of farming. This raises concerns given the increasing footprint of farms as small enterprises and the significance of this sector to economic and social well-being across the world. In Ireland, dairy farming represents an ever-important part of the small business sector with employment having risen by 40% in the 2010 to 2016 period. Dairy farming is an especially interesting small business context to examine people management issues because it tends to have a significant family member dimension alongside increasing numbers of non-family workers. Hiring staff outside the family is a new challenge for many farmers which may see many as ‘reluctant employers’ and which brings substantially new responsibilities, difficulties and opportunities.

It is therefore timely to pursue research that investigates HRM issues in these small businesses which will assist in identifying the characteristics of high-performing dairy farms from both the employer (farmer) and employee perspective. In using, both qualitative and quantitative methods this project seeks to better understand the HRM practices that may help differentiate superior performance on Irish dairy farms. One possible avenue that the successful scholarship applicant may pursue would be investigating the relevance and applicability of high-performance work systems. This refers to a group of separate but interconnected HRM practices (e.g. training and development, incentivised pay) which are designed to enhance individual competencies, and increase employee and organisational performance.


Applicants should have a good primary degree (First or Upper Second Class Honours) in an appropriate discipline (e.g. Agri-business, Human Resource Management, Labour Economics, Agriculture, Business Management, Psychology, or other relevant degree). An MSc in appropriate discipline would be preferable, though not essential. The successful candidate should be self-motivated and have a keen interest in small business, HRM and agri-business. The successful applicant will be required to visit farms by car therefore a full EU driving licence is required. A car will be provided by Teagasc for each of these visits.

If English is not your first language you will need to satisfy the English language requirement:

IELTS: 6.5 - with no individual section lower than 5.5
TOEFL: 90 - with minimum scores as follows: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 17

Scholarship Details:

The PhD Scholarship is a joint research project between the HR Research Centre at Cork University Business School, University College Cork (UCC), and Teagasc, Moorepark. The student will work under the supervision of Prof. Anthony McDonnell and Dr. Ronan Carbery at UCC, Dr. Marion Beecher, Mr. Paidi Kelly and Dr. Emma Dillon at Teagasc. The student will be based initially at Cork University Business School, UCC Cork but periods of work will be undertaken at Teagasc Moorepark, Co. Cork. The scholarship will start as soon as possible after October 1st 2020.

The scholarship funding is €22,000 per annum and includes University fees of up to a maximum of €6,000 per annum and is tenable for 4 years.

The successful applicant will receive a laptop for the duration of the scholarship, be provided with appropriate desk space. as well as being able to access funding to support registration and travel costs for appropriate conferences. The successful applicant will be offered the opportunity to gain teaching experience. The appointee will be provided with learning and networking opportunities to attain the highest standards of research excellence and support his/her career development.

Further Information/Applications

Please contact any of the following for more information and guidance regarding the scholarship and making an application:

Prof. Anthony McDonnell, Cork University Business School, Cork, University College Cork

Dr. Ronan Carbery, Cork University Business School, Cork, University College Cork

Dr. Marion Beecher, Teagasc, Moorepark, Co. Cork, Ireland

Application Procedure

Submit an electronic copy of the completed application form based on the background provided above, Curriculum Vitae (including the contact details of two referees) simultaneously to: Prof. Anthony McDonnell (; Dr. Ronan Carbery ( and Dr. Marion Beecher (

The successful scholarship awardee will then have to submit a formal application through the University applicant system where qualifications will need to be validated.

Closing date
Friday 21st August 2020.  Interviews for shortlisted candidates will take place in late August/early September.

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cork - Ireland
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: €22,000
£18,557 converted salary* - please see advert
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 13th July 2020
Closes: 21st August 2020
Reference: 2020203
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* Salary has been converted at the prevailing rate on the date placed
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