Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, School of Marketing, Technological University Dublin, 2021.


This study explored how local communities can increase their ‘self-help’ capacity and achieve locality development from a grassroots level, and from an Effectuation perspective. This study explored the micro factors that enable transformational activity and explored the effectiveness and relativeness of government policy in reducing barriers to locality development. Locality development in rural Ireland was then viewed through an Effectual Lens to develop a mechanism to cultivate transformational activity in rural communities. The findings identified three major themes across the four case studies: (1) locality development is achieved through integrated transformational activity (community, CDO and government level); (2) there are barriers to locality development at all three levels (e.g. government funding presented both opportunities and challenges for communities); (3) the findings suggested that the four case studies displayed evidence of the presence of ‘Effectuators’ (effectual entrepreneurs) in locality development. The analysis was developed by leveraging insights from successful communities in rural Ireland. The output of this research is a self-help framework for locality development. This produced a framework that could be applied to cultivate transformational activity across the country and bridge the rural and urban divides.

Effectuation Theory provides an alternative approach to viewing the entrepreneurial process and suggests that what makes entrepreneurs successful is ‘effectual logic’. This process starts with their ability to utilise the means available to them to imagine possible ends. Communities throughout rural Ireland (such as Ballyhoura Development) are utilising the means available in their locality to take control of the development process. This research explored a sample of case studies that have achieved locality development success and analysed if Effectuation was applied throughout this process. The findings suggested that all four case-studies applied the principles of Effectuation. However, the extent that each principle was applied varied across the case studies. The analysis also suggested that the first principle of Effectuation ‘Bird in Hand’ had the highest presence in locality development. This suggested a strong orientation to leverage the means available (e.g. local resources) was present in individuals involved in development initiatives.

The findings of this research suggested that Effectuation was applied in the locality development process and could be utilised as a mechanism to cultivate transformational activity and achieve self-help locality development. This research bridges the gap between community development and entrepreneurship, and identified the potential for entrepreneurial theory to be applied to solve community development problems.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust