Denise O'Leary, Assistant Head of School

Dr. Denise O’Leary is Assistant Head of School of Hospitality Management and Tourism. As well as working in management roles, she has worked as a lecturer and researcher in a number of third level institutions in Ireland and the US. She also worked for almost 10 years in a consulting capacity in the private sector, during which time she successfully facilitated a broad variety of evaluation, strategic planning, team development and inter-organisational relationship development activities.

Her research focuses on collaboration at both an organisational and inter-organisational level and she has worked with practitioners from across diverse sectors, integrating action research and action learning into organisation development and team development. Her research explores collaboration in networks, including food tourism networks. She is also interested the role of tourism in supporting community development.

She has been both a lead and co-applicant on a number of successful grant proposals including an FP7 project on developing SME competencies in eight European countries. She supervises post-graduate students and is a reviewer for a number of journals. She is an active member of the action research/action learning community and is on the steering committee for the annual Action Research Colloquium.



Food tourism

Community development

Inter-organisational collaboration

Destination development

Action Research

Action Learning

Chapters in Edited Books

Coughlan P., Coghlan D., O’Leary D.F. and Rigg C. (2016) Supporting Sustainability through Developing a Learning Network among Traditional Food Producers: Applications of Action Learning in Organizing Supply Chain Processes for Sustainable Effectiveness, Vol 5, 59-81. Emerald: Bingley, UK

Journal Articles

O'Leary D.F, Coughlan P, Rigg C. and Coghlan D. (2016) Turning to Case Studies as a Mechanism for Learning in Action Learning. Action Learning Research and Practice. Available at

O’Leary D.F. (2016) Team Psychological Safety: a significant factor in the development of interprofessional collaboration. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 30(1), 29-34.

O’Leary D.F. and Ni Mhaolrunaigh S. (2012) Information-seeking behaviour of nurses: where is information sought and what processes are followed? Journal of Advanced Nursing 68(2), 379–390.

O’Leary D.F., Coughlan P., Coghlan D. and Rigg C. (2016) Using case studies as tools for learning in action learning. Action Learning Research and Practice Annual Conference Ashridge, UK.

Coughlan P., Coghlan D., O’Leary D.F. and Rigg C. (2014) Facilitating collaborative process improvement through network action learning. 21st annual EurOMA conference, Palermo

O’Leary D.F. & Rigg C. (2014) Facilitating interagency collaboration – creating a space for learning in a ‘wicked’ world. Action Learning Research and Practice Annual Conference Ashridge, UK

Coghlan D., Coughlan P., O’Leary D.F. and Rigg C. (2014) Structuring and implementing action learning. Action Learning Research and Practice Annual Conference Ashridge, UK.

O’Leary D.F. & Stafford M.R. (2014) Using an iconic story to bring communities together to develop a tourism experience. Tourism and Hospitality Research Conference, Cork.

O’Leary D.F. & Stafford M.R. (2013) An exploration of the motivations behind committee membership in food networks. Winner of Best Paper Award. International Council for Hospitality Management Education Conference. Edinburgh

O’Leary D.F. & Stafford M.R. (2013) An exploration of power dynamics in tourism network governance. Travel and Tourism Research Association Conference, Dublin.

Stafford MR & O’Leary D.F. (2012) Managing Food Tourism Networks. Fáilte Ireland Research Forum, Dublin.

O’Leary D.F. (2012) Outsider Positioning in Action Research: Struggling with being on the Outside Looking in. Action Research Colloquium, Waterford Institute of Technology.

O’Leary D.F. (2011) Team Psychological Safety and Interprofessional Team Development. Action Research Colloquium, Waterford Institute of Technology

O’Leary D.F. (2009) An Examination of the Research-Practice Gap in Nursing and a Proposed Means of Bridging it. European Group for Organisational Studies Conference, Barcelona.


Non-Peer Reviewed Articles

O’Leary D.F (2013) Developing Food Tourism. Why Get Involved? Irish Academy of Hospitality and Tourism Newsletter, March 2013.

O’Leary D.F. (2013) Where’s the Evidence? Nursing Standard 27(46) 61-61.


Industry Reports (not refereed)

Coughlan P., O’Leary D.F. and Coghlan D. (2015) Report on Tools for Network Based Collaboration. The European Commission.

O’Leary D (2015) Improving Collaboration through Action Learning: Guidance for Children's and Young Person's Services Committees in Ireland. Department of Health and Children

O’Leary D (2015) Demographic Data Relating to Deprivation and Inclusion for The Eight CYPSC Regions In Kerry. Health Service Executive

Coughlan P., Coghlan D., O’Leary D.F. and Rigg C. (2014) Report on Action Learning Training in the TRADEIT project. The European Commission.

O’Leary D.F. (2014) The Potential of Developing Tourism around the Life and Legend of St Brendan the Navigator. Fáilte Ireland

O’Leary D.F & Stafford M.R. (2013) Report on Food Tourism Networks: An Action Research Study. Fáilte Ireland

Stafford M.R. & O’Leary D.F. (2013) Managing Food Tourism Networks: A Practical Manual. Fáilte Ireland.

O’Leary D. (2012) An Evaluation of the Strengthening Families Programme, A Summary Report. Kerry Education Services

O Doherty C., Farrelly T & O’Leary D.F. (2012) Development of Child Well-Being Indicators for Kerry. The Kerry Children’s Services Committee, Tralee.

O’Leary D.F. (2010) Report on the Tralee RAPID Areas Quality of Life Initiative. Kerry County Council, Tralee.