Research Calls 2020

Call for Research Project Proposals 2020

In 2018 the Hellenic Observatory launched an exciting research initiative to further fulfil and develop its mission and study of contemporary Greece and Cyprus in the field of the social sciences. The programme became possible due to new funding granted for the specific purpose of furthering the Hellenic Observatory’s research agenda. The Hellenic Observatory would like to acknowledge grateful and sincere thanks to the A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation (ACLCF) and Dr Vassili G. Apostolopoulos for the provision of funding for this purpose. 

Research Themes & Level of Awards

The LSE’s Hellenic Observatory invited applications from researchers to conduct time-sensitive and globally competitive policy relevant research on contemporary Greece and/or Cyprus.

1. Researchers were invited to submit a research proposal on the following theme for an award of up to £20,000. One Project will be selected (1 award) and the successful project should run for a maximum of 24 months. 


Industrial renaissance and a new industrial policy for Greece

The global financial crisis has intensified a shift in both academia and policy that has encouraged a rethinking of the role of industry (manufacturing) and industrial policy for economic development, resilience and growth – revisiting the debate not only with regard to “whether industrial policy works” but mainly about “how / when does industrial policy work” (IMF, 2019 – “The Return of the Policy That Shall Not Be Named”). Across Europe, this shift is manifested in a range of policies and policy frameworks that are slowly taking shape both at the national (Germany’s “Modern Industrial Policy” in Germany, France’s “Industry of the Future”) and the supranational level (“Industrial Renaissance” document, EFSI programme, State of the Union 2017). In Greece, where industry has been historically less developed than in the EU, the crisis resulted in a steady rise of the share of manufacturing in the economy (as a share of GDP), raising expectations about the sector’s future. However – and despite the international experience that manufacturing is associated with higher wages, export growth, intensive R&D activities, incorporation into international value chains and strong forward and backward linkages with the rest of the economy – the Greek manufacturing sector is plagued with myriads of problems; both internal (such as the very small average firm size in comparison to the EU, resulting in limited economies of scale and scope) and external (such as limited access to finance as a result of the crisis).

In this call we invited research proposals for studies that will seek to address the strengths and weaknesses of Greek manufacturing (and its sub-sectors) and the scope for policy intervention to help steer the economy to manufacturing sectors and activities that will contribute to robust and sustainable growth for the Greek economy. This could include projects with a predominant focus on the structure of manufacturing in Greece (e.g., seeking to identify sub-sectors of manufacturing where Greece appears to have comparative advantage; highlighting the challenges encountered by Greek manufacturing firms; discussing appropriate policies to foster the growth of selected sectors without discriminating against other sectors of economic activity) or projects with a more direct focus on industrial policy and the balance (current and prospective) of state-market relations in the country (e.g., how this balance has been reshaped after the adjustment programmes and what this means for the Greek “variety of capitalism”; what type of framework conditions and specific measures/instruments of industrial policy could work in the Greek context, drawing from international experience; what are the different options for market regulation and how this would affect current and ‘latent’ comparative advantages of the Greek economy).

2. Researchers were invited to submit a research proposal on the following theme for an award of up to £8,000. One Project will be selected (1 award) and the successful project should run for a maximum of 12 months. 

Revisiting Greece’s Policies for the Balkans

At the end of the Cold War, Greece achieved high status in South East Europe. Greece’s relatively high GDP per capita and rates of growth, alongside its membership of the EU and NATO, made it a ‘leading light’ in the region as a: serious investor especially in the financial sector; trading partner; host of immigrant workers, and supporter of the region’s aspiration for Euro-Atlantic integration. The role of the private sector and active political support for the inclusion of the Balkans states in ‘western’ international organisations were not necessarily matched by a coherent policy of economic diplomacy. The onset of the Greek financial crisis had a serious impact on Greece’s regional economic and political roles. Greek firms proceeded to divest from the region, migrants were compelled to return to their home countries as the Greek economy contracted, and Greece’s diplomatic and political influence waned both in the region and in support of the region’s international ambitions.

This call for research invited an examination of Greece’s post-crisis role in the Balkans. The research would have to focus on Greece’s economic interests in the region and the conditions by which it might be able to influence the region’s European perspective. The proposal had to map out in empirical terms the changes that have taken place in terms of Greece’s commercial/financial role in the region and how this has affected both Greek and the region’s economic interests. The call welcomed an examination of the role of Greek economic diplomacy in the region, and the definition of alternative strategies. The call also welcomed research into Greece’s renewed political and diplomatic role in the Balkans in a broader regional context.

3. Researchers were invited to submit a research proposal on one of the following themes for an award of up to £8,000. One Project will be selected (1 award) and the successful project should run for a maximum of 12 months. 

i. The impact of IT on the Greek public sector

The implementation of IT in the public sector is expected to result in efficiencies, effective delivery of public services, better interaction of citizens with government agencies and reduction of corruption. Such effects are not a direct consequence of IT implementation, but require effective organizational change interventions. Public sector re-organization has been difficult and ineffective in Greece: starting with big promises but often achieving little substantive change. Consequently, while successive generations of information systems are implemented across agencies, they do not amount to the transformative effects expected from IT.

We invited research proposals for case studies that will seek to understand the course of digitalization in public sector agencies in relation to public sector reforms in the last ten years. The research should trace the relationship of an ambitious IT strategy/IT implementation project in a public sector agency and relevant re-organization strategies/interventions. It should assess the extent to which the IT/reorganization project achieved its intended effects and identify enabling and constraining conditions. It should also explore the connection of agency-specific IT implementation and re-organization with the context of the country’s broader public sector reform efforts. This involves historical research of completed IT projects. Successful proposals should have a good understanding of theory about information systems and organizational change in government administration. They should be competent in historical methods and have good qualitative analytical skills. 


ii. The Greek “gig economy”

Across the world, platform-based business models offer new entrepreneurial opportunities for innovative consumer services but create mostly precarious and insecure work. Network economics and data driven business development often result in near monopolies that disrupt established industries and challenge existing regulation for competition, taxation and employment. Most visible are platforms with international reach, such as Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Amazon, etc. Less known are the clusters of digital start-ups that have been formed in every country. While few achieve international scale, they are important for meeting local consumer needs and for developing digital skills for the broader economy. Their disruptive and developmental capacity are poorly understood.

We invited proposals for studies of the diffusion of platform-based business models in Greece. These had to include:

• Analyses of the extent of use of international platforms and the emergence of local platform firms; case studies of indicative or exceptionally innovative digital business platforms.
• Examples of ‘creative destruction’.

• Assessment of enablers and inhibitors for successful platform-based business, for example infrastructure, skills, regulation.

Successful proposals should demonstrate in depth understanding of platform-based business models and the political economy of platform capitalism. They should aim to shed light on the ‘creative destruction’ of platform business innovation in Greece and inform relevant policy.

Useful Information


Eligibility and Procedure

The projects should result in international research and policy-relevant reports.

The Call was open to all researchers with a university affiliation, who hold a doctorate (PhD degree) and have at least two years of post-doctoral research experience. This criterion does not apply to the research assistants appointed on the project.

Applications from groups of researchers were also eligible. The PI and lead members must fulfil the eligibility criteria.

Applicants who have previously been awarded funding from the Hellenic Observatory’s research calls cannot reapply in the same academic year that the previous project finished.

Applications are limited to one application per person/group each year.

Eligible costs include salaries, travel, research assistance, impact and knowledge exchange, and publications.

How to apply

Applications are now closed!

Proposals were invited for projects which would commence in 2020. These were to be submitted electronically in Word format to 

Applicants were asked to submit proposals of no more than 2,500 words (Calibri font, size 11, justified alignment, 2cm margins, single spaced). Proposals had to address the five evaluation criteria laid out in the Selection Process below and had to be structured under the following sub-headings:

  • Summary: project title, name of the PI (and other lead researchers together with a structure of the team and the allocation of tasks across its members), start and end dates, total budget figure
  • Research objectives and project outline (including literature review)
  • Methodology
  • Time-Line
  • Planned Publications (other than the Policy Brief and the Research Paper- see Deliverables below): format, content, publisher, date of submissio
  • Impact
  • Annex 1: Personnel (including short biographies). Full CV’s should be attached as separate documents together with a listing of cited references.
  • Annex 2: Detailed Budget - see Budget below. Please complete the Excel budget template provided


The budget should justify the costs identified for the project. Eligible costs include salaries, travel, research assistance, impact and knowledge exchange, and publications, in so far as they can be accepted as essential parts of the proposed research. Overhead costs of up to 15% of the total budget are allowed, but these should be included in the budget (the total budget cannot exceed (1) £20,000 or (2) £8,000. The selection committee has the right to request additional information regarding budget costs and to award a smaller amount than the one requested or advertised. Awards must be used solely for the purposes set out in the application. An amount of up to 20% of the total budget can be transferred between budget headings without reference to the Hellenic Observatory. Requests for budget transfers in excess of this amount should be addressed to the Hellenic Observatory.

Selection Process

Proposals will be selected by the Hellenic Observatory and members of the Research Advisory Group according to the following criteria:

  • Originality, significance, rigour and impact of the research
  • Evidence that the individuals involved have the capacity to execute the proposed project and deliver on stated outcomes
  • Contribution towards policy-relevant challenges facing Greece and/or Cyprus
  • Value for money
  • Compatibility of the research with the broader work of the Hellenic Observatory

The Hellenic Observatory and the Research Advisory Group are solely responsible for approving the eligibility of applications and reserve the right to request additional information from the applicants. Shortlisted applicants may be asked to participate in a telephone/SKYPE interview. In all cases, the decisions of the Hellenic Observatory and the Research Advisory Group will be final. The Hellenic Observatory and the Research Advisory Group reserve the right not to make any awards or to adjust the number of awards they make.


The successful researcher / research team is required to provide:

  • Progress Report: A Progress Report of up to 2,000 words (after 6 months where project run is 12 months and after 12 months where project run is 24 months)
  • Policy Brief: A Policy Brief of 2,000 words at the end of the project
  • Final Research Paper: A Final Research Paper of up to 10,000 words at the end of the project
  • Other: Scholarly publications and publications in other outlets, stemming from the research project will be a significant criterion for the evaluation of the applications submitted

The researcher / or research team will be obliged to give full acknowledgement to the Hellenic Observatory in all publicity and outputs related to the project, copies of which should be sent to the Hellenic Observatory. The Hellenic Observatory also retains the right to publicise a summary of the results, with full acknowledgement to the authors of the research, on its website and in its other publicity outlets.

Award of Funds

What happens next?

  • A collaboration agreement between LSE and your institution is set up. It is hoped that the agreements will be drawn up and signed by all parties by the beginning of September 2020. The successful applicant(s) must provide a relevant research account in their host institution for the transfer of the grant.
  • Funds are transferred in two equal instalments - the first on commencement of the project and the second on completion of the defined outputs to the satisfaction of the Hellenic Observatory.


Application Deadline                      26 April 2020 (23.59 GMT)

Successful Projects advised         June 2020

Contracts drawn up                      June – July 2020

Project Commencement               1 September 2020