Whitaker Institute COVID-19 Response Group

The Whitaker Institute, along with other research institutes at NUI Galway, have created a COVID-19 Response Group. The group, which is comprised of Whitaker members from a variety of research backgrounds, are working to contribute their expertise to the local, national and global COVID-19 response efforts.

A note from Whitaker Institute Director Professor Alan Ahearne:

The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down. The spread of the virus is having a profound effect on all our lives, and events are changing by the minute. While we have all moved to new ways of working, our commitment at the Whitaker Institute to supporting our research community in producing impactful research remains as strong as ever. That is why, along with the other Research Institutes at NUI Galway, we have established a COVID-19 Response Group at Whitaker to mobilise our research community to contribute to the local, national and global COVID-19 response efforts. At the Group’s first virtual meeting, we identified several areas of activity where we believe we can make expertise, knowledge and research contributions to fight against the spread and impact of COVID-19. We will keep you informed as these projects develop.


Prof Alan Ahearne Dr Ronan Kennedy
Dr Dmitry Brychkov Prof Alma McCarthy
Prof Mary Cawley Dr Michal Molcho
Prof Kieran Conboy Ms Angela Sice
Dr Christine Domegan Dr Umair ul Hassan
Dr Sinead Duane Dr Elaine Wallace
Dr Josephine Igoe Ms Courtney Yanta

If you’re interested in joining the Whitaker Institute COVID-19 response group, please contact Professor Alan Ahearne at alan.ahearne@nuigalway.ie.


Remote Working Employee Survey
Understanding physical distancing
Real-time analysis for policy making
Challenges and Opportunities for Ireland’s Major Ocean Economy Industries


Carroll, Noel and Conboy, Kieran. (2020). Normalising the “new normal”: Changing tech-driven work practices under pandemic time pressure. International Journal of Information Management, p.102186.

Doyle, Ronan & Conboy, Kieran. (2020) ‘The role of IS in the covid-19 pandemic: A liquid-modern perspective’ International Journal of Information Management. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2020.102184

Khoo, Su-Ming, (2020) ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic and Lessons from Global Citizenship and Development Education’ in Policy and Practice – COVID-19 and
Development Education, ISSN:1748-135X.

McCarthy, Alma, Ahearne, Alan, Bohle-Carbonell, Katerina, Ó Síocháin, Tomás, & Frost, Deirdre. (2020). Remote Working During COVID-19: Ireland’s National Survey Initial Report. Galway, Ireland: NUI Galway Whitaker Institute & Western Development Commission.

McCarthy, A., Bohle Carbonell, K., Ó Síocháin, T. and Frost, D. (2020). Remote Working during COVID-19: Ireland’s National Survey – Phase II Report. Galway, Ireland: NUI Galway Whitaker Institute & Western Development Commission.

O’Donoghue, Cathal & Sologon, Denisa Maria & Kyzyma, Iryna & McHale, John, 2020. “Modelling the Distributional Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis,” IZA Discussion Papers 13235, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

Ó Síocháin, T., Ahearne, A., Frost, D., Gantly, M., Kerins, E., O’Donoghue, B., McCarthy, A. (2020) Remote Working: Opportunities, Challenges and Policy Implications, Western Development Commission.

Samuli Laato, A. K. M. Najmul Islam, Muhammad Nazrul Islam & Eoin Whelan (2020) What drives unverified information sharing and cyberchondria during the COVID-19 pandemic?European Journal of Information Systems, DOI: 10.1080/0960085X.2020.1770632



Whitaker Institute Policy Briefs

Media & Press

Television and Radio

RTÉ Brainstorm

Blog Posts



On 11 February, the Whitaker Institute was delighted to host Understanding psychosocial determinants of adherence to physical distancing guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic by Dr Hannah Durand. Physical distancing is one of the best strategies that we have to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, keeping our distance from others is perhaps the most difficult and even unnatural behaviour that we must adopt. Understanding the complex factors involved in determining whether someone will or will not adhere to physical distancing guidelines, and addressing those factors in evidence-based, fully transparent, and fact-based public health campaigns, is therefore of critical importance. This seminar provided an overview of a Health Research Board and Irish Research Council-funded project, which aims to provide high-quality accelerated evidence on the barriers and facilitators of physical distancing to support COVID-19 policy strategy and communication in the Republic of Ireland.

The event is available to watch back below:


On 27 November, the Whitaker was delighted to host the live webinar COVID-19 and the Organization of Anthropocentricism. Recently there has been a lot of talk about the pandemic in academia. A compelling question not being asked, however, is ‘how on earth did we get here?’  More importantly, how can we stop ourselves from returning to such a situation in the future? We suggest that anthropocentricism (humans placing themselves at the centre of the world) lies at the heart of the multiple issues that created the conditions of possibility for COVID 19 to emerge.  Anthropocentrism is also linked to a profoundly patriarchal tendency to exercise domination over different Others and consider them as mere objects to be managed.

By drawing from different disciplines we may be able to disrupt and challenge damaging organizational and business practices, especially within the animal-industrial complex. Central to this is the question of whether academics in these disciplines are complicit in promoting a form of agnotology (the making and unmaking of ignorance) by endorsing approaches to corporate social responsibility, business ethics and sustainability, that obfuscate these issues.  The speciesism that underpins the animal-industrial complex has not received the attention that academia bestows on other ‘isms’. The consequences of this neglect are significant.

In this webinar we explore how posthumanist perspectives can be harnessed as an antidote to anthropocentricism and speciesism, to promote an awakening– or reconstitution– of how to live a good and sustainable life with all those we share planet earth with.  COVID 19 is one of many zoonotic diseases associated with our interference with animals specifically, and the biosphere in general. Such a disease was long predicted.  Without radical changes to destructive profit-maximising strategies, other zoonotic diseases will engender frequent and more severe pandemics, while the inseparable issue of climate change promises horrific events, even extinction.

The good news is that all these problems have been made by us, and so they can also be unmade by us.

The webinar included presentations from four experts followed by a question and answer period. The event is available to watch back below.

Charles Barthold
Senior Lecturer in HRM and Organisation Studies, The Open University, UK

Caroline Clarke
Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies, The Open University, UK

Daniel Nyberg
Professor of Management and Organisation Studies, Newcastle Business School, Australia

Matthew Cole
Lecturer in Criminology, The Open University, UK

Chaired by Professor Kate Kenny
NUI Galway


On 19 November, the Whitaker Institute hosted a live webinar Women, work and Covid-19: the beginning of the end for gender equality? As Covid-19 continues to affect the world of work, it is evident that the pandemic and its economic effects disproportionately affect women. Much of the pandemic’s unequal impact stems from the unequal distribution of unpaid caring work, exacerbated by the closure of schools and childcare facilities. Although these are now open again, children displaying potential symptoms of Covid-19 are likely to be excluded for several weeks, and schools and childcare facilities may also be closed at any time where there is a Covid-19 diagnosis, or where the government thinks appropriate. The ability to work therefore remains highly contingent for many women.

Women are also more likely to work in the sectors most affected by the pandemic, which are largely service-related, meaning that they are more likely to be impacted by lay-offs and job losses. However, even in less affected sectors, those with caring responsibilities have found it difficult to access work. Women’s overall employment participation is severely impacted, and the problem is compounded by women’s comparatively lower access to social security, which makes it harder for women to absorb economic shocks. For this reason, the International Labour Organisation has warned that Covid-19 could wipe out the ‘modest progress’ made on gender equality at work in recent decades.

While much attention has centred on the impact of Covid-19 on women’s employment generally, there has been less focus on other factors, such as disability and race, which significantly increase the disadvantage to some groups. Women with disabilities, Black women, and women from ethnic minorities are among the most likely to be excluded from employment at any time, and face particular challenges in the context of Covid-19. At a time when much of the focus is on simply ‘getting the economy running’ again, there is a danger that women will – yet again – be left behind, and that the compound disadvantage faced by some women will be overlooked entirely.

The webinar included presentations from four experts followed by a question and answer period. The event is available to watch back below.


Prof Joanne Conaghan, University of Bristol
Dr Nata Duvvury, NUI Galway
Dr Sara Louise Muhr, Copenhagen University
Dr Ebun Joseph, Director, Institute of Antiracism and Black Studies

Chaired by Dr Lucy-Ann Buckley, NUI Galway



On 12 October, the Whitaker Institute hosted a live webinar titled Leadership, Organizations and COVID-19. The webinar discussed the challenges of being a leader against a backdrop of radical uncertainty including the need to make rapid decisions. Available information changes fast, and is often based on contested evidence. Meanwhile anxious employees and stakeholders seek guidance and some sense of certainty amid the challenges.

These challenges have impacts on people’s lives. In politics, the ambiguity accompanying Covid-19 continues to be exploited by populist leaders worldwide. In business, the corporate social responsibility initiatives that many have celebrated over the past ten years, are now being tested to their limits. Demands of those with short-term, profit-driven interests are pitted against longer-term concerns including the health and well-being of employees, customers and other stakeholders. In the public sector including education, the implicit contract of public service is likewise being challenged, as traditional funding sources dry up.

In the event, established leadership theories were also questioned. For some, the pandemic marks the end of the traditional, masculine model of leadership in which power ought to be centralized, and decision-making unilateral. Instead, we see examples of strong feminine leaders coming to the fore, with collaborative and empathetic approaches winning out. For others, such claims of a paradigm shift are premature.

We were delighted to welcome three experts in the field

Gazi Islam, Professor of Business Administration at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
Jackie Ford, Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies, Durham University Business School
Dennis Tourish, Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies, University of Sussex

The event was chaired by Whitaker Institute member Professor Kate Kenny, cluster leader of Work, Organizations and Society cluster.


On Tuesday 8 September, the Whitaker Institute was delighted to host a live webinar titled Organizations in COVID-19: Embodiment, ethics and lockdown. The webinar discussed the implications of COVID-19 for organizational ethics, with a focus on embodiment. Workers’ bodies are central to recent changes with health and safety now critical concerns for many working on the front line. In other sectors, bodies are removed from relations between workers as we witness a mass-move towards digital work. Questions of ethics and embodiment are central to the reorganization of work that has accompanied the spread of this virus, with important and far reaching impacts.

We were delighted to welcome 4 international panellists who are experts in the field of the theory and practice of ethics and embodiment.

Professor Alison Pullen, Macquarie University, Australia

Professor Carl Rhodes, University of Technology, Sydney Australia

Professor Iain Munro, Newcastle University Business School, UK

Professor Marianna Fotaki, Warwick Business School, UK

The event was chaired by Professor Kate Kenny, cluster leader of the Work, Organizations and Society cluster.


On Wednesday 2 September, the Whitaker Institute was delighted to host an InterTradeIreland online event as part of the All-Island Innovation Programme. The event, which was titled Economic shocks and recovery: Comparing Covid 19 to 2008, was presented by the Whitaker Institute’s Director Professor Alan Ahearne, who was an economic adviser to the Irish Government during the 2008 financial crisis and has recently been appointed as an adviser to the Government in response to the COVID crisis.

In the event, Prof Ahearne discussed comparisons between the 2008 financial crisis and COVID-19 in the context of SMEs, offering insights into how SMEs can survive and prosper in the current climate. A recording of the event is available to view below.


As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts every aspect of our working lives, members of the Whitaker Institute continue to take part in a series of webinars including InterTradeIreland’s All-Island Innovation Programme, webinar masterclasses which the Whitaker Institute is a partner.  These webinars will offer a blueprint for action and future business resilience to strengthen SMEs that face disruption and uncertainty

This unique series of events offers you direct access to both national and international innovation experts.  The series will include talks by former Ireland rugby captain and successful start-up entrepreneur Jamie Heaslip; international expert on Innovations Management, Professor Oliver Gassmann and Director of the Whitaker Institute of Innovation and Societal Change and NUIG Professor of Economics, Alan Ahearne.

On 19 May, Dr Lisa Messina, Management Expert, Queens University presented the first masterclass where she identified some of the challenges and discussed the strategies that SMEs can employ to navigate the current Covid19 crisis.


Dr John Danaher, of the Technology and Governance cluster, participated in London Futurists webinar, ‘Could Covid-19 spark a Moral Revolution?’ on 3 May 2020.