Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

How scientists interpret and address funding criteria: value creation and undesirable side effects

Lookup NU author(s): Professor James Cunningham



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Scientists and funding bodies are interdependent actors involved in an ongoing two-way signalling interaction; however, we lack insight on the social mechanisms underpinning this interaction. To address this issue, we examine how successfully funded scientists interpret and address criteria set by the funding body to maximise their chances of funding success. We also consider the possible adverse side effects that can arise from scientists’ competitive efforts to address these criteria. Our findings identify a portfolio of funding criteria—research feasibility, research alignment and team credentials—that scientists address when preparing grant applications. Effectively addressing these criteria enhances the prospects of funding success and value creation. However, we also find that scientists can over-address funding criteria, which is counterproductive and yields undesirable side effects. Our research therefore makes an important distinction between the possibilities for value creation and the value creation frictions that can unintentionally arise based on how grant-submitting scientists interpret and address the criteria signalled by the funding body. Our research has implications for policymakers, funding bodies and scientists which we also discuss.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Kane C, Zhang JA, Haar J, Cunningham JA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Small Business Economics

Year: 2022

Issue: ePub ahead of Print

Online publication date: 10/10/2022

Acceptance date: 20/09/2022

Date deposited: 26/10/2022

ISSN (print): 0921-898X

ISSN (electronic): 1573-0913

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s11187-022-00697-4


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
Science for Technological Innovation (SfTI) National Science Challenge