NBER Call for Proposals - Economics of Supply Chain Risk

November 4, 2020

To promote research on the determinants and effects of lengthy global supply chains, which often span several continents, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), with the generous support of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and in collaboration with the DHS Science and Technology Center of Excellence for Cross-Border Threat Screening (CBTS) at Texas A&M University, is carrying out a research project on “The Economics of Supply Chain Risk.”  This initiative will be led by three co-organizers: Laura Alfaro of Harvard University and NBER, Greg Pompelli of CBTS, and Chad Syverson of the University of Chicago and NBER.  It will bring together researchers in various subfields of economics – international trade, industrial organization, labor economics, organization economics, productivity economics, and regulation -- to study issues of current importance and to frame the future research agenda.

This initiative will support up to eight research projects on global supply chain risk.  There is particular interest in studies of industries that DHS has identified as supporting National Critical Functions (NCFs). These functions, which involve supply, distribution, management, and connection in a number of industries, are described here:


Submission deadline: Dec. 2, 2020

Researchers should submit a proposal of no more than five pages, single spaced, including references, tables, graphs, and other supplementary material, in PDF format by 11:59pm EST on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.  Each proposal should describe the research question to be studied, the data and methods to be used, and the composition of the research team that will be carrying out the project, along with a conflict of interest statement describing any financial or other interests of the research team that might bear on the proposed work.   Proposals from early-career researchers, from members of under-represented groups, from individuals with disabilities, and from veterans are especially welcome.  

The co-organizers will review the proposals for scientific merit and feasibility.  Final project selection will be made in consultation with DHS collaborators and sponsors who will review the relevancy to issues in the DHS’ scope.   The research team for each project will receive funds for principal investigator support, a graduate research assistant, and travel.  Researchers whose proposals are selected for support will be notified by December 31, 2020. All research teams that receive support will be expected to participate in a video preconference in February 2021 and a capstone research conference in September 2021.

NBER affiliates should apply for support through NBER, and all NBER-supported projects must have at least one NBER-affiliated investigator.  Other researchers, provided they are eligible to receive federal research support, should apply to CBTS.    

To Apply to NBER:

Investigators and research assistants on NBER-supported projects must be eligible to be paid as NBER employees; the NBER will not make sub-awards.  Funding on NBER projects includes direct costs of $15,000 in investigator salary support and $9,000 in graduate student support. NBER grants are net of indirect costs.   Proposals should be uploaded to


For those submitting proposals to NBER, questions can be directed to Ms. Elisa Pepe (epepe@nber.org).

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