The Swan Group is an interdisciplinary research group formed in late 2007. Our research interests are in economic theory, education, legal systems, political economy and innovation policy. In January 2008 our group was granted funding support by the FBD Trust to investigate the Irish Government’s policies in education and innovation. Our topic is “Education Policy and Economic Growth – Perspectives for Development & Reform”. The group is publishing a series of working papers and related material on this website, and hosted a conference in October 2008 at which it presented an interim report. A final report will be delivered in October 2009.
On our name…
The research group choose this name due to the popular appeal of what has been termed “Black Swan Theory”. This is the theory focusing on highly uncertain, unlikely events that have a significant impact on financial markets. The research team has a deep interest in the question of uncertainty versus risk in innovation policy. Innovation policy in Ireland has had far-reaching educational and fiscal policy implications that are important to economic performance and the future development of Ireland. The research team members are Dr Charles Larkin (Project Coordinator), Trinity College Dublin, Ms Ailbhe Kenny, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Dr Daithí MacSíthigh, Norwich Law School, University of East Anglia, Dr Jacco Thijssen, Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin, Dr Stephen Kinsella, Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick.
The Group’s current project is:
Education Policy and Economic Growth – Perspectives for Development & Reform
Since the early 1990s Ireland has experienced an economic boom. One of the reasons given for this rapid expansion in the gross domestic product has been the increase in foreign direct investment. The attraction of Ireland for foreign direct investment, it has been argued, has been the quality of the human capital located in the Republic. The expansion of persons holding Leaving Certificate or Third Level qualification has expanded dramatically. Recent proposals by the Department of Education and Science, Higher Education Authority and Enterprise Trade & Employment have suggested that Ireland become a “Research Knowledge Economy” but we hypothesise that this may not the case. The development of “Fourth Level Ireland” is taking away scarce resources from Third, Second and Primary Level education. Existing economic research illustrates that these funds are better spent on the development of skills at the foundation levels of education allowing the workforce to be more flexible and allow for fluid entry and exit from the education system over a citizen’s life-cycle. Further, we investigate the potential areas for continued Irish economic development, such as financial services and other high value-added activities that can be delivered through low-cost information communication technology (ICT). Our group will attempt to investigate the linkages between education and continued economic growth in the unique Irish situation of a small open economy driven by trade. To this effect the group will provide a series of recommendations in their final statement of findings. Interim reports and media statements are added to this site as they are produced.