Small grants programme

Research supported by the Marshall Institute.

We're committed to research that has world-wide impact.

In 2017 the Marshall Institute established an LSE-wide small grants programme. The committee awarded grants to eight LSE faculty members and to ten LSE PhD students from across 12 different Departments, Research Centres and Institutes. Since the funding was awarded the Marshall Institute has been engaging with recipients on the dissemination of their findings through the Social Business Hub blog. A series of research symposia convened faculty and PhD students from across the LSE to discuss their projects and identify potential for future collaboration.

Meet the recipients:

Members of faculty




Dr Adam Oliver

Social Policy   

Testing the ultimate game with earned money

The ultimatum game has produced one of the most robust findings in behavioural economics, and appears to show that people are often motivated by reciprocity, rather than by the standard rational choice theory assumption of selfish egoism. However, the ultimatum game is typically undertaken with money that is simply given to respondents, an occurrence that relatively rarely occurs in reality. The main objective of my study is to test whether the usual results of the ultimatum game hold up when money is instead earned, by asking respondents to construct Lego models, rather than given to them for ‘free’.

Alessandro Tavoni, Former Associate Professorial Research Fellow 

Grantham Institute

Peer effects, rewards, and image concerns in energy decisions (PRICED)

The PRICED project seeks to understand the role of social rewards and peer effects in encouraging private contribution to the public good in the context of green energy demand.  Alessandro Tavoni and Greer Gosnell of the Grantham Research Institute (LSE), together with Stefano Carattini (Yale University), will work in partnership with a green energy supplier to study the effects of increasing the visibility of otherwise invisible pro-environmental behaviours.

Professor Anne Power

LSE Housing &Communities

Tenants in action: how small scale voluntary community action brings public benefit

LSE Housing and Communities’ research project will explore the difference that tenants’ voluntary action can make in low-income neighbourhoods. As local authority budgets get tighter, NHS resources are increasingly stretched, and charities struggle to find resources to meet increasing need, tenant volunteers can play a vital role in enhancing the common good and improving the wellbeing of their local communities. The project will involve 20 semi-structured phone interviews with a cross-section of social housing tenants and 10 follow-up visits to local community projects, led and run by tenants. It will provide qualitative accounts of the hard-to-measure benefits of tenant action; quantify the number of direct beneficiaries of tenants’ action; develop a “financial value” on tenant volunteering; and explore wider and more indirect benefits that contribute broadly to the common good.

Dr Julia Morley


The impact of 'impact': the effect of social impact reporting on staff identity and motivation at UK social enterprises and charities

In this study, I will conduct interviews with staff at UK social enterprises and charities to examine how the use of social impact reporting affects their motivation. This research was prompted by anecdotal evidence suggesting that some staff might find financialized and business-like descriptions of their activities demotivating as these measures fail to express the moral and emotional components of their work.

Mary Martin Senior, Research Fellow 

LSE Ideas (International Relations)

Private sector contributions to Columbia's peace process

In the wake of a 2016 peace agreement to end more than 50 years of civil conflict in Colombia, 'Private sector contributions to Colombia's peace process' will examine the structures which encourage private companies to take part in the country’s transition to peace.

Through dialogues with companies, communities and public officials, the project will analyse how the peace process articulates a new social and political role for companies, as well as private sector responses to the challenge of public-private collaboration in implementing the peace agreement. The aim of the project is to contribute to developing understandings and typologies of actions by private actors for public good in a post-conflict setting.

Professor Mike Savage


Art, inequality and social change

The art world has sought to democratise artistic display over the past two decades, to limit the association with ‘highbrow’ culture and to encourage diversity in artistic form, and to encourage a wider range of audiences to engage with art. However, although these democratising moves have been effective in several respects, there has been less attention to the way that the rise of economic inequality, and the accumulation of wealth and capital might be an issue for artistic exploration and curation. We will be conducting a small scale project to explore how the practices of curators and artists in a series of leading London galleries are aware of current economic challenges associated with inequality, and how they understand the dynamics of contemporary social change. We will conduct a series of interviews with the curators of public art galleries and private galleries, and with a number of artists who have been identified as exploring current social issues. We expect to find that artists are developing important repertoires for comprehending current challenges and will use our findings to encourage a better understanding from social scientists of these innovations, and to enhance the public significance of art for current debates.

Professor Naufel Vilcassim


International Coaching via Skype: Connecting Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs Across Markets and Examining the Impact on Small Business Growth in Uganda

In this research, we evaluate the impact and effectiveness of an innovative non-profit organisation that seeks to improve societal outcomes in emerging markets by stimulating growth among small scale enterprises. Grow Movement (GROW) links motivated entrepreneurs with higher growth potential in emerging markets with volunteer business professionals around the world who provide free, one-on-one coaching to entrepreneurs remotely via Skype, mobile phone and email.  We will use a randomized controlled trial to rigorously evaluate the impact and effectiveness of GROW’s “remote international coaching” programme on the economic and social outcomes of 1,500 micro and small entrepreneurs in Uganda. Thus, through this project we aim to better understand and enhance the role that private actors (in this case, the volunteer coaches, as well as the entrepreneurs themselves) can play in stimulating economic growth in emerging markets.

Dr Richard Perkins

Geography & Environment

Standardising green bonds: actors, approaches and influences

Green bonds have recently emerged as a high-profile financial vehicle for private actors to contribute to public goals of climate mitigation and environmental protection. Within the context of debates about environmental governance, this project seeks to understand the evolution of private (and public) standards governing the transparency and environmental integrity of green bonds, and the influences which have shaped their configuration and usage.

PhD students

Name Department

Ara Jo

Geography and Environment

This research relates to the provision of global public goods such as climate change mitigation with a particular focus on the role of culture. 

Bastiaan Bouwman

International History

My dissertation analyses the work of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its members in the area of human rights, from the 1940s to the 1970s. Using archival and published source materials as well as interviews, I trace how this religious non-governmental organisation mobilized its vast membership – at present, 348 churches representing more than 500 million Christians of various denominations around the world – to engage with issues such as religious liberty, political repression, and racism. In doing so, I pay particular attention to how and why its human rights engagement changed over time.

Dana Kassem


This project aims at investigating the causal link between social networks and integration outcomes of immigrants. In collaboration with Together Project, a Canadian civil society initiative, we will match well-established Welcome Groups with newcomer refugees. Welcome groups are Canadian citizens who volunteer their time to help newly-arrived government assisted refugees with settlement. This will shed light on the mechanisms through which volunteering time to assist newcomers affects integration. 

Ganga Shreedhar

Geography and Environment

This project will examine the impact of different dimensions of social distance on giving. It focuses on a social group with the explicit social norm of altruism, i.e. social workers in the U.K. and India, with the objective of better understanding the social mechanisms that raise altruism amongst agents aiming to serve the collective good.

Jeanne Firth

Geography and Environment

As private funding is increasingly circulating in development and humanitarian aid, this project will identify the sources of knowledge that inform, inspire and produce such interventions. This research examines the substantial philanthropic activity in foodscapes and food systems in New Orleans more than a decade after Hurricane Katrina. Many projects in New Orleans have been funded or spearheaded by high-profile individuals, and this research seeks to understand the role that celebrity plays in processes of knowledge production.

Joel Suss

Social Policy, III

The UK and other developed economies have seen significant increases in economic inequality over the last several decades, however the economic and social consequences of this are still unclear. In particular, not much is understood about how inequality relates to pro-social behaviours such as charitable giving. This research project will conduct experiments to explore how the experience of economic inequality affects people’s propensity to donate money and time to charitable causes.

Kate Laffan

Social Policy

The overarching goal of this work is to shed light on the extent to which, and the conditions under which, interventions to encourage electricity savings behaviours spill over into other environmentally significant consumption behaviours. In particular, the work will explore whether incentivising electricity savings leads to the crowding out of further pro-environmental behaviours. The research will take place in a residential field setting and the interventions be evaluated using objective consumption outcomes relating to electricity, heating and water consumption. 

Paulius Yamin-Slotkus

Psychological and Behavioural Science

This project explores how behavioural change interventions based on social norms can be used to transform behaviours and create collective benefits in real world contexts. By testing different interventions to improve fuel consumption in a national-level transportation company in Colombia, the project tests strategies and tools to achieve greater impacts of these kinds of initiatives in both personal and organisational levels.

Rani Suleman


This research is focused on NGO trustee governance structures as much of the literature is normalised in nature with the practicalities of their duties not well understood. With the support of the Marshall Institute, this qualitative research project will focus on how trustees, as volunteers, shape and influence NGO financial governance in order to meet beneficiaries' needs. The overall goal of the research is to help strengthen the NGO governance model thus enabling state and non-state actors to operate effectively in a climate which may place significant demands on their operational capacity.

Tatiana Valeria Paredes Torres

Social Policy

The informational asymmetries between doctors and patients create strong incentives for misbehavior on the side of doctors. Liability laws attempt to prevent that these misaligned incentives translate into large efficiency costs for society as a whole. This research studies a natural experiment, a reform to the malpractice law in Ecuador, and its effects on the number of procedures performed and care provided by physicians.