Dr. Sheila Cannon
Assistant Professor, Trinity Business School
Sheila Cannon is Assistant Professor in Social Entrepreneurship at Trinity Business School. She conducts research on and teaches about the third sector, including social enterprises, nonprofits, and civil society organisations. Her research contributes to knowledge on how organisations influence and respond to socio-cultural change. So far, she has studied contexts including peacebuilding, LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, digital disruption, just transition, and sustainability.
Sheila has published in top journals in her field, such as Human Relations, 4-star and ranked 10th by the Financial Times (FT50), as well as the highest ranked nonprofit journal, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (ABS3). Her doctoral research, "Surviving the Peace: Processes of organisational identity work in response to deinstitutionalisation of Irish Peacebuilding," received the 2015 Rudney Memorial Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Nonprofit and Voluntary Research. She subsequently served as Chair of said committee in 2016 and 2020. She won Research and Teaching Excellence awards from TBS in 2018. She disseminates her research through The Conversation, Council on Business and Society, World Economic Forum, Newsweek, and others, making academic research accessible to a wider audience.
Sheila teaches social entrepreneurship to undergraduates and graduate students. She runs the Social Enterprise company project on the Trinity MBA; 14 social enterprises work with teams of MBA students each year on a project that is beneficial to the organisation, and provides applied learning experiences for the students. She uses learner-centred methods to help students engage with new ways of understanding often challenging contexts. She supervises student research at Masters and Doctoral levels, including funded research by Canadian Mitacs Global Link Award.
Sheila contributes to the Trinity community as well as the wider community in several ways. In 2021 she won the Trinity Civic Engagement Award for her work with Social Enterprises. She is Director of the Global Business Undergraduate degree programme, as well as Chair of Business Student of the Year Committee, and Foundation Scholarship Examiner. Sheila helped to design and create the Centre for Social Innovation, a TBS centre of expertise, and was appointed Associate Director responsible for engagement with practitioners in 2019. She connects research and teaching with practitioners in the third sector. For example, she has organised workshops on social impact in February 2021 and May 2019. She was part of the VIBE project (Vietnam-Ireland Bilateral Exchange) and created a case book comparing social enterprises in Vietnam and Ireland. She served as advisor on a project to measure Social Return on Investment for a nonprofit providing mobility services. She is member of Academic societies in her field of research, and participates in international research conferences by presenting papers, chairing sessions, and advising doctoral candidates in her field. She also provides policy advice to government on social enterprise as well as business and human rights.
As well as research and teaching, Sheila has expertise in project development and management, grant writing, and facilitating groups of practitioners. Before returning to academia, Sheila worked in the nonprofit sector in peacebuilding organisations for over 12 years, in the Balkans and in Ireland. She was Director of Development at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, and Programme Director at the Centre for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe. She was Research Assistant in the Centre for Nonprofit Management at TCD from 2011 to 2015. She has a Bachelor's degree in The Classics from Vassar College.
Publications and Further Research Outputs
Páramo Ortiz, Sergio; Cannon, Sheila M., Social Innovation Framework for Social Enterprises, Emergence of Social Enterprise in Europe Conference, EMES 8th International Research Conference, University of Zaragoza, Teruel, Spain, October 2021, 8, 2021, pp1 - 22
McQuaid, Siobhan; Esmee D. Kooijman; Mary-Lee Rhodes; Sheila M. Cannon, Innovating with Nature: Factors Influencing the Success of Nature-Based Enterprises, Sustainability, 13, (22), 2021, p25
Cannon, Sheila M. and Raymond Dart, Dramaturgy of technology: The start-up pitch, International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) 14th International Conference, Montreal, Canada, July 2020, 2020, pp1-18
Foreword: The Opportunity of Global Social Entrepreneurship in, editor(s)Tom Gamble; Guragam Singh , Social Enterprise: A focus on entrepreneurship for the common good, Paris, France, Council on Business and Society, 2020, pp6 - 6, [Sheila M.Cannon; Conception Galdon]
Wu, SH; Cannon, S; Coughlan, P., McNabola, A.; Novara, D.; Dreyer-Gibney, K., Sustainability-oriented process innovation and emergent social mission, EurOMA 2020, Managing Operations for Impact, Online, Warwick, 29-30 June, 2020
Cannon, Sheila M.; Alexandra Lamb, Paloma Raggo, Storytelling, Strategies, and Success: The Irish Reproductive Rights Movement, International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) 14th International Conference, Montreal, Canada, July 2020, 2020, pp1-20
Cannon, Sheila M.; Danielle Byrne; Mary Lee Rhodes; Gemma Donnelly-Cox; Raymond Dart, Social Enterprise in Ireland: A country case study, ARNOVA (Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action) 48th Annual Conference, San Diego, California, USA, November 2019, 2019, pp1 - 23
Cannon, Sheila M. and Raymond Dart, Digital Social Innovation: A new actor in the third sector?, ARNOVA (Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action) 48th Annual Conference, San Diego, California, USA, November 2019, ARNOVA, 2019, pp1 - 24
Truong T.N. Thang, Sheila Cannon, Cherrell Picton, Shivangi Sareen, Mary Lee Rhodes, Social Enterprises in Viet Nam and Ireland, First, Hanoi, Vietnam, Labor Publishing House (Nha xuat ban lao động), 2019, 1 - 144pp
Sheila M. Cannon, Legitimacy as Property and Process: The Case of an Irish LGBT Organization, Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Non-Profit Organization, 2019
Sheila M. Cannon; Raymond Dart, Digital platforms as strategy: Case study evidence of social enterprises using digital innovations for social change, ARNOVA's 47th Annual Conference. From Relief to Resilience: How Philanthropy, Nonprofits and Volunteers Bridge the Gap between Crisis and Sustainability, Austin, Texas, USA, November 2018, ARNOVA, 2018, pp1-16
Cannon M. Sheila; Karin Kreutzer, Mission Accomplished? Organizational Identity Work in response to Mission Success, Human Relations, 71, (9), 2018, p1234 - 1263
Cannon, Sheila M. and Raymond Dart, Real solutions or gimmicky distractions? Social enterprises using smartphone apps to address complex social problems, Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN), York, UK, May, 2018, pp1-15
Sheila M. Cannon, From Bad, to Good, to Redundant? A case study of an LGBT organisation in Ireland, European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Annual Colloquium, Copenhagen, Denmark, July 2017, 2017, pp1-25
Donnelly-Cox, G; S. Cannon; J. Harrison, Ireland Country Report: Eufori Study. European Foundations for Research and Innovation, Brussels, Belgium, European Commission, 2015, 597-634
Cannon, S. M.; G. Donnelly-Cox, Surviving the peace: Organizational responses to deinstitutionalization of Irish peacebuilding, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 44, (2), 2015, p360 - 378
Cannon, Sheila, Organizational identity work in response to deinstitutionalization, Annual Colloquium of the European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS), Rotterdam, The Netherlands, July 2014, 2014
Cannon, Sheila, Surviving the peace: Processes of organisational identity work in response to deinstitutionalisation of Irish peacebuilding, Trinity College Dublin, 2014
Cannon, S.; K. Kreutzer; G. Donnelly-Cox, Mission accomplished? Organizational identity work in Irish peacebuilding organizations, Annual Colloquium of the European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS), Montreal, Canada, July 2013, 2013
Cannon, Sheila M; Donnelly-Cox, Gemma, A Hidden landscape? Finding and exploring the changing field of peacebuilding organisations, 27th EGOS Colloquium, European Group for Organizational Studies, Gothenburg, Sweden, 7-9 July 2011, 2011, pp1-24
Donnelly-Cox, G; S. Cannon, Searching for solutions: Reactions in Ireland to crisis and altered conditions of support, Annual Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), Istanbul, Turkey, July 2010, 2010
Gemma Donnelly-Cox and Sheila M. Cannon, Responses of Non-profit Organisations to Altered Conditions of Support: The Shifting Irish Landscape, Voluntary Sector Review, 1, (2), 2010, p335 - 353
Cannon, Sheila M., Inter-ethnic Dialogue as a Personal and Collective Healing Process: Examples from Former Yugoslavia, Southeast Europe. Journal of Politics and Society, 53, (1), 2005, p38 - 45
Cannon, Sheila M., The MBA Social Enterprise Projects: Supporting Social Enterprises through Teaching, Regions for Social Economy Business Development - RESET, Support to Social Economy Business Development Workshop, Dublin, Ireland and online, 2 November 2021, European Union, 2021, pp20
Cannon, Sheila M., Civic Engagement: The MBA Social Enterprise Projects, Trinity Business School, Trinity Centre for Social Innovation, Trinity College Dublin, November 2021, 2021, pp20
Páramo Ortiz, Sergio; Cannon, Sheila M., Dimensions of Social Innovation: Radical versus Instrumental Approaches in Social Entrepreneurship, Centre for Social Innovation, Research Seminar, Trinity College Dublin, 17 November 2021, Trinity Business School, 2021, pp25
Cannon, Sheila M., Teaching and Learning the Process of Social Entrepreneurship, National Forum for Teaching and Learning, National Forum Seminar Series, Carlow Institute of Technology, Ireland, 23 April 2021, 2021, pp20
Sheila M.Cannon, Fair Supply Chains and Business Education, Council on Business and Society Insights, 23 October 2020, 2020, p2
Sheila M.Cannon; Kreutzer, Karin, Version 2.0: Are Nonprofits Allowed to Reinvent Themselves?, Global Voice, Council on Business and Society, 12, 2020, p35 - 38
Conception Galdon; Sheila M. Cannon; Edgard Barki; Adrian Zicari; Paula Cardenau, The Paradox of Our Times and a Key Role for Social Enterprise, Council on Business and Society, 2020
Blanco Sanchez, Azucena; Sheila M. Cannon (supervisor), Green Demarketing Taking Off: A new environmental CSR approach for airlines, Trinity College Dublin, 2019
Cannon, Sheila M., Climate Strikes: Greta Thunberg calls for 'system change not climate change' - here's what that could look like, The Conversation UK, 2019
Cannon, Sheila M. and Anne Shelly-Lacey, Submission on Social Enterprise to Oireachtas Joint Committee on Key Issues Affecting the Traveller Community, Dublin, Government of Ireland, December, 2019
Cannon, Sheila M., A top-down solution to the Irish border after Brexit undermines 20 years of peacebuilding, The Conversation UK, 2018
Cannon, Sheila M., What businesses taking a stand against Donald Trump can learn from NGOs, The Conversation UK, 2017
DescriptionSheila is a social scientist, who uses qualitative methods to contribute to organisational theory. Sheila's research focuses on the third sector: social enterprises, nonprofits, and civil society organisations. Her research contributes to knowledge and literature on neo-institutional theory, organisational theory, and organisational identity work. She focuses on how organisations influence and respond to social change, particularly in the social change associated with responding to the climate crisis. So far, she has studied contexts including peacebuilding, LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, digital disruption, sustainability, and corporate activism. Sheila has published in top journals in her field, such as Human Relations, 4-star and ranked 10th by the Financial Times (FT50), as well as the highest ranked nonprofit journal, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (3-star). Her doctoral research, "Surviving the Peace: Processes of organisational identity work in response to deinstitutionalisation of Irish Peacebuilding," received the 2015 Rudney Memorial Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Nonprofit and Voluntary Research. She subsequently served as Chair of said committee in 2016 and 2020. She achieved a Research Excellence award from TCD in 2018. She presents research at international conferences. She publishes in The Conversation, making academic research accessible to a wider audience.
- Value-Oriented Organising: Legitimising Social Change for Climate Adaptation
- The technical expertise and scientific knowledge already exist to mitigate the climate crisis. The barrier to an effective response has been socio-cultural beliefs, values and assumptions that legitimise how we organise. Climate crisis response focuses on national and international climate policies, business practices, technological solutions, and individual behaviour. Meanwhile, social purpose organising, including research and practice of nonprofit, nongovernmental, and civil society organisations, has been surprisingly fragmented, diluting the global civil society efforts to legitimise sustainable ways of organising, such as regenerative food systems, sustainable agriculture, green urban planning, circular economies, and transitioning to renewable energy. VOLSOCA will synthesise the different approaches to organising with social and environmental purposes, including civil society, third sector, social enterprise, and sustainable development studies, to deliver new theory and frameworks on value-oriented organising (VOO), a new concept that I have developed to test and refine in this project. VOO is the process of creating, capturing and sharing social, environmental and economic value, a trivalent nested model. Great efforts by many third sector organisations have developed new ways to create sustainable value, but they have not scaled. VOLSOCA will kick start the scaling up of civil society sustainability initiatives by delivering a new framework for the value they create, but also how they actually influence, or legitimise, what is valued. This project opens up new horizons to address the challenge of legitimising climate adaptation, the social changes that underpin successful change required to reduce the negative impact of human activity on the natural environment as well as adapt to climate change. With my multidisciplinary team, I will use key case studies and action research to create a new theoretical framework to illustrate how the process of organising to create value influences or legitimises what is valued, and thus influences social change. This will lead to new areas of research in the socio-environmental sciences and a fundamentally new understanding of climate adaptation.
- Funding Agency
- Enterprise Ireland
- Date From
- Date To
- Viet Nam Ireland Bilateral Exchange (VIBE)
- Sharing knowledge and resources on teaching and studying social enterprise and social innovation. We wrote a case book of social enterprises. We created a National Mapping project for Viet Nam, and a plan for one in Ireland.
- Funding Agency
- Irish Aid
- Date From
- January 2017
- Date To
- December 2019
- New Forms of Civic Engagement
- Across Canada and in many other countries, a 'new wave' of civic engagement is emerging (Molenveld, et al., in press; Edelenbos et al., 2018; Voorberg et al., 2014) in which communities, whether geographic or social, are working together to create major social change and provide services in different ways. This research project integrates several genres of literature to better understand how citizen initiatives succeed in social change and community building. It focuses on Ireland where major social change has occurred in recent years, notably related to women's reproductive rights and attitudes toward homosexuality. Situated at the Centre for Social Innovation, Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin, the project will also contribute to ongoing collaborative linkages of the Centre with the Masters program in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership (MPNL) at Carleton University - the only program of its kind in Canada. Alexandra Lamb conducted research at the Centre for Social Innovation in Trinity Business School as part of her Master's degree at Carleton University, under the co-supervision of Sheila Cannon (TCD) and Paloma Raggo (Carleton). The research focussed on the women's reproductive rights movement in Ireland that resulted in the 2018 referendum successfully repealing the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution, which had effectively outlawed abortion since 1984. We identified a new approach to issue framing, responsive framing, where activists worked together to understand and respond to public opinion. The results of this research form Alexandra's master's dissertation, a conference paper at ISTR (International Society of Third Sector Research) in Montreal, July 2020, and subsequently a peer reviewed publication.
- Funding Agency
- Mitacs Globalink, Canada
- Date From
- September 2019
- Date To
- December 2019
- Preparation Support for H2020 Grant proposal
- This project consisted of designing and writing a grant proposal for EU funding H2020 Excellent Science, for a project entitled: Social Innovation and Social Enterprise (SISE).
- Funding Agency
- Enterprise Ireland
- Date From
- July 2014
- Date To
- January 2015
TCD representative to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Nations Implementation Group for Business and Human Rights.
Member of Project Advisory Group for Vantastic Mobility Services Social Return on Investment Analysis
Faculty Advisor to Enactus Ireland, supporting student social entrepreneurship
Awards and Honours
Trinity Civic Engagement Award
Gabriel G. Rudney Memorial Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research
Mitacs Globalink Research Award
Research Excellence Award, Trinity Business School
Teaching Excellence Award, Trinity Business School
Enterprise Ireland. H2020 proposal grant awarded
European Commission EUFORI project grant awarded
Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA)
European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS)
International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR)
Social Economy Research Network of Ireland (SERNI)
Emergence of Social Entrepreneurship in Europe (EMES)