Cullen Fellowship research on port performance metrics

Eammon O'ConnorEamonn O'Connor has recently completed his PhD through the J.E. Cairnes School of Economics and Business at NUI Galway.

Eamonn's research is focused on 'Understanding Port Performance in the Context of Policy Design' and consisted of a series of essays. His Cullen Fellowship was with NUI Galway and the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) section of the Marine Institute, based in Dublin. His supervisor at the IMDO was Liam Lacey and his supervisors at NUI Galway are Natasha Evers, Stephen Hynes and Amaya Vega. 

"My research involved examining means to evaluate the performance of Irish state ports in the context of policy design," he explains. "Ports are strategic national assets and essential for the capability of the nation to trade internationally. Ports are retained under state ownership as a means to safeguard the future supply of port capacity to the shipping market. To promote efficiency, however, the responsibility of development of the ports is devolved to commercialised state-owned bodies.

"My research sought to create a means for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to effectively monitor the performance of these state-owned bodies. The major challenge in my research was dealing with significant heterogeneity across the ports in regards to their development requirements and the manner in which they achieve performance."

Eamonn's research will help inform the advice that the IMDO gives to the Department regarding port policy.

He says there have been several benefits to being part of the Marine Institute's Cullen Fellowship.

"Being associated with the IMDO has benefitted me through providing access to industry practitioners both within the organisation and the industry at large. In addition, I have been well funded to attend conferences through funding streams such as the Marine Institute Networking & Travel Awards.

"The most memorable part of the Cullen Fellowship has been presenting my work at international conferences and presenting it to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport."

The Cullen Fellowship Programme builds marine research capacity and capability by equipping graduates with the skills and expertise in raising awareness about our ocean, as well as Ireland's rich marine biodiversity and ecosystems. The programme has provided grant aid to the value of €2.06 million supporting 24 PhD and three MSc students over the last five years. The research addresses a number of the 15 research themes identified in the National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021.

This project (Grant-Aid Agreement No. CF/14/01) was carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government.


National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017-2021: Published in 2017, the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy 2017-2021 focuses on the broad topics identified in existing Government policies and strategies and provides a framework that recognises the complexity of research funding in the marine domain.