Research Support

Sustainability research grants are available with a maximum award of $10,000 for a broad range of sustainability in business topics. Find the types of projects funded, the application process, and deadlines.


Smeal Sustainability Research Grants address business topics within and across management and organization, entrepreneurship, accounting, supply chain, marketing, finance, risk management, international business, law and real estate. 

What do we mean by “sustainability”?

We view the topic broadly. The Financial Times' definition of business sustainability provides guidance: “Business sustainability is defined as managing the triple bottom line – a process by which companies manage their financial, social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities. Business sustainability represents resiliency over time – business that can survive shocks because they are connected to healthy economic, social and environmental systems.”

A pool of funds is available from the Center, with a maximum award of $10,000 for an individual project. These funds are intended to cover expenses directly related to conducting the research. They can be used to pay wages for student assistance, but not faculty salary. The use of funds for travel will also be considered, but the need must be specified (in view of existing faculty travel funds). Proposals must be limited to five pages including any tables, images or graphics. Proposals must include a budget in sufficient detail so it is clear how funds will be spent.

For questions about the Smeal Sustainability Research Grants, please contact Dan Cahoy, Research Director for the Center for the Business of Sustainability.

Areas of research that are particularly appropriate for funding include:

  • Sustainable investing, ESG performance, sustainability reporting quality, and financial risk related to climate
  • Sustainable product development, consumer response to sustainable products, services, and behavior change
  • Sustainability in supply chains, optimization for supply chains, and operational impact of sustainability
  • Corporate Social Responsibility, sustainable business strategy, stakeholders and activism
  • Institutional change, social change, development
  • Legal incentives for sustainability and regulatory impacts

Other areas will be considered.

Proposals will be evaluated on their intellectual merit, the relationship of the research results to the business case for sustainability, and the involvement of faculty or students from different departments or colleges.

Tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty are encouraged to submit proposals. At least one Smeal faculty member should be an investigator on the project. 

Heilmeier offers useful guidance for preparing a proposal:

  • What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon
  • How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
  • What's new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
  • Who cares? If you're successful, what difference will it make?
  • What are the risks and the payoffs?
  • How much will it cost, How long will it take?
  • What are the midterm and final "exams" to check for success?

Requirements of Awardees

  • Mid-project report
  • Presentation 
  • End of project report and/or published paper

2021 Grant Cycle Timeline

 The 2021 grant cycle timeline will be announced by December 2020. 

Announcement January 29, 2021
Proposal Due April 2, 2021
Award Announcement April 23, 2021
Mid Year Report December 17, 2021
Final Report June 30, 2022
Funds Spent by June 30, 2022

Submissions should be made via email to with the subject line “Sustainability Research Grant Submission” by 5pm on April 2, 2021.

2020 Grant Cycle Timeline

Announcement January 31, 2020
Proposal Due April 3, 2020
Award Announcement April 23, 2020
Mid Year Report December 18, 2020
Final Report June 30, 2021
Funds Spent by June 30, 2021

Previously Funded Research


How do meta-organizations build sustainable global supply chain networks? The Case of the Responsible Business Alliance ($10,000)
Veronica Villena, Assistant Professor, Supply Chain & Information Systems
Charlene Zietsma, Associate Professor, John and Becky Surma Dean's Research Fellow, Management and Organization
Denny Gioia, Professor, Robert & Judith Auritt Klein Professor of Management, Management and Organization

Repair Services: Nudging Consumers to Repair Instead of Replace ($9,750)
Nathan Allred, PhD student, Marketing
Karen Winterich, Professor, Frank and Mary Smeal Research Fellow, Marketing

Does Water Scarcity Affect Environmental Performance? Evidence from Manufacturing Facilities in Texas ($6,908)
Suvrat Dhanorkar, Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management
Suresh Muthulingam, Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management

Hedge Fund Activism, Boardroom Composition, and Corporate Social Responsibility ($5,000)
Mark DesJardine, Assistant Professor, Management and Organization

Downsizing and Secondhand Markets ($2,800)
Lisa Bolton, Professor of Marketing, Frank and Mary Jean Smeal Research Fellow
Meg Meloy, Professor of Marketing, Calvin E. and Pamala T. Zimmerman Fellow
Gretchen Wilroy, PhD student, Marketing

Estimating Demand for a Corporate Ridesharing Initiative in Brazil ($1,500)
Aydin Alptekinoglu,Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, Robert G. Schwartz University Endowed Fellow in Business Administration, Director of Research of Center for Supply Chain Research
Sergey Naumov, Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management


Working Together or Apart? The Interaction Between Financial and Social Activists and Corporate Social Responsibility ($7,200)
Mark DesJardine, PhD, CFA, Assistant Professor, Management & Organization

Sharing Economy and Resilience to Natural Disasters: Evidence from Airbnb Markets ($10,000)
Brent W. Ambrose, Professor of Real Estate
Maxence Valentin, PhD Student in Real Estate
Jiro Yoshida, Associate Professor of Business


Cold Facts & Hot Emotions ($8,656) 
Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor, Professor of English and Women's Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies
Charlene Zietsma, Associate Professor of Management and Organization, John and Becky Surma Dean's Research Fellow. 
Raghu Garud, Professor of Management and Organization, Michael J. Farrell Chaired Professor of Entrepreneurship. 


Metrics for Disaster Relief Pre-Positioning: Theory-Driven Tools for Non-Expert Practitioners ($3,500) 
Jason Acimovic, Assistant Professor of Supply Chain and Information Systems, Penn State University

Corporate Elite Values and their Influence on Social Cause Priorities in the U.S. 2002-2013 ($6,500)
Razvan Lungeanu, Assistant Professor of Management and Organization, Penn State University
Klaus Weber, Associate Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University


Can Finance Alter the Environmental Decisions of U.S. Corporations? ($6,250)
David Haushalter, Associate Professor of Finance, Penn State University
Peter Iliev, Assistant Professor of Finance, Penn State University

Building Configuration, Sustainability, and Market Price: Investigating the Effects of Passive Solar Design on Housing Prices. ($6,780)
Jiro Yoshida, Assistant Professor of Business, Penn State University
Lisa Iulo, Department of Architecture, Penn State University
Sohrab Rahimi, PhD Student, Department of Architecture; Penn State University
Shahrzad Fadaei, Master Student, Department of Architectural Engineering, Penn State University
Thies Lindenthal, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge


Knowing What it Makes: The Effect of Recycling Outcome on Recycling Intentions ($7,000)
Gabriel Gonzales, PhD Student, Department of Marketing, Penn State University
Karen Page Winterich, Associate Professor, Department of Marketing, Penn State University

Accepted for publication - Journal of Marketing

Investing in Impact: Social Innovation in Finance ($7,500)
Razvan Lungeanu, Assistant Professor Department of Management and Organization, Penn State University
Timothy G. Pollock, Farrell Professor of Entrepreneurship, Department of Management and Organization, Penn State University
Klaus Weber, Associate Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University