Smeal Sustainability Research Grants

Research grants for Smeal College of Business Penn State University


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

What do we mean by “sustainability”?

We utilize the Financial Times definition of business sustainability: “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 has been made available by the Dean, with a maximum award of $10,000. 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. 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 Erik Foley, Smeal Director of Sustainability (

An illustrative but not exhaustive list of topics in sustainable business includes:

  • policies and practices that companies and their supply chain partners can use to continue or initiate activities to reduce cost and risk by measuring and managing social and/or environmental impact from human rights to ecological externalities such as air and water pollution
  • encouraging consumers to purchase sustainable products or influencing them to engage in sustainable practices
  • government regulation and stakeholder actions that encourage companies to engage in sustainable practices or discourage them from unsustainable ones
  • organizational, industry, or market characteristics that support sustainability and the diffusion of practices
  • understanding the dynamics of subsystem decision making and local culture on the success of system­wide sustainability initiatives
  • relationship between financial performance, market valuation and sustainability performance
  • reporting and disclosures related to a firm's environmental and social risks

Other topics will certainly be entertained.

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. 

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


Announcement January 18, 2019
Proposal Due March 12, 2019
Award Announcement March 29, 2019
Mid Year Report December 20, 2019
Final Report June 30, 2020
Funds Spent by June 30, 2020

Previously Funded Research


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 ($8656) 
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