Business academic awarded Fulbright Scholarship

School of Business
Dr. Tom O'Toole with Una Halligan, Chair, Fulbright Commission at the Fulbright Awards Reception on 15 June 2012

Dr. Tom O'Toole with Una Halligan, Chair, Fulbright Commission at the Fulbright Awards Reception on 15 June 2012

Waterford Institute of Technology’s Head of the School of Business, Dr. Thomas O’Toole, was among the recipients of the prestigious Fulbright scholarship at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin last week.

A record number of 37 Irish Fulbright Awards were officially announced today. The awards are jointly funded by the Irish and US governments under the Ireland-United States (Fulbright) Commission for Educational Exchange. Fulbright scholarships have provided Irish students, scholars and professionals with the opportunity to study, lecture and research at top universities and institutions in the U.S. since 1957.

Dr. O’Toole will undertake research at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in the area of inter-firm collaborative capability to model growth lessons for Irish software firms from the embedded interconnected ties that appear to characterise their US counterparts.

According to Dr. O’Toole, “Ireland’s entrepreneurs do not tend to grow their businesses into larger firms which is evidenced by the country’s dependence on multinational firms for its exports (over 70%). Ireland is a hub for international software firms and has a huge range of its own firms in this area. One of the key reasons that Ireland does not have its own set of international software firms may be how they are networked in the early stages.

“US firms seem to start with much more network capability and this process enables firms to share inter-organisational resources and routines which are necessary to grow and succeed in many industries.”

Dr. O’Toole’s research will examine how this capability emerges and, in doing this, will build a model of the process which will represent a contribution to the academic literature. The study will also have major relevance to the growth of Ireland’s indigenous software industry, which will have application to other firms. In addition, the findings from the research should provide insights for policy makers into how they can adapt current policy to improve the network capability of Irish entrepreneurs.

Dr. O’Toole added, “Atlanta Georgia is in the top three locations in the US for new software firms and, as a hub, will be a good place to access and understand how network capability emerges. 

Dr. O’Toole is one of only two academics of the 37 to be awarded the scholarship from the Institute of Technology sector. WIT has received two other Fulbright scholarships in the past: Dolores Gilhooly won it in 1975 for work in the Human resources area at New York State University and Dr. John Nolan for Macular Pigment Research at the Medical College of Georgia.

Speaking about this year’s Fulbright Awards, Ms Una Halligan, Chair of the Fulbright Commission said:

“The reputation of Fulbright continues to grow as the international value and influence associated with being a ‘Fulbrighter’ becomes more widely recognised in both academic and professional contexts.

“The breadth of each recipient’s field of expertise highlights the innovative nature of Fulbright which values all disciplines equally. Although their subjects are varied, each of these recipients has one very important trait in common - outstanding leadership ability. This is the true essence and purpose of Fulbright. 

“We have no doubt the collaborations and accomplishments they make while in the US will impact enormously on future growth across all realms of Irish society well into the future.”

More Information on the Fulbright Commission, go to

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