Anti-Monopoly Fund Academic Open Call

ACADEMIC OPEN CALL

We're Hosting an Open Call for Academic Research on Anti-Monopoly Issues.

The ongoing trends of this past year — the global COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis, nationwide protests for racial justice, and so much more — have exposed deeply ingrained fractures in our society. These events build on a history of rampant inequality along racial, gender, and class lines, and have led to the erosion of public institutions and the increasing reliance on private institutions and markets to solve public problems, leaving individuals, families, and society vulnerable to the threat of concentrated private power. One thing is clear: we cannot return to “normal,” and instead must rebuild an economy that provides a shared sense of agency, opportunity, and security.

The Anti-Monopoly Fund is providing academic research grants to scholars interested in studying concentrated economic power and the evolving economy. Research plays a critical role in supporting policy development, narrative and cultural change, and litigation. There is an increasing body of empirical evidence demonstrating the effects of concentrated markets. Recent research, for example, reveals increasing profits for firms and shareholders alongside stagnant wages for working people — against a context of corporate concentration that overcharges typical American households over $5,000 annually. All of this work has been integral to informing the emerging ecosystem around anti-monopoly enforcement, legislative change, and grassroots organizing. Yet there are still many unanswered questions in this field of work, including questions about how antitrust law can be used to promote racial inclusion and equity, as Acting Chair of the Federal Trade Commission Rebecca Slaughter has raised. To start, we need more data on the impact of concentrated economic power on marginalized communities, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color and poor and low-income earning people.

We are seeking innovative research proposals across a variety of fields and disciplines to gain insights and effectuate policy. Proposals need not be tethered to the ongoing crises, but we are particularly interested in exploring the gender and racial dynamics of economic concentration and the pandemic’s impact on market concentration and supply chains. We are focused on the U.S., but we are open to proposals that examine other geographic regions with implications for the U.S. context. We are focused on tech, pharma and healthcare, food and agriculture, finance, and energy, but proposals are not restricted to any of these sectors. Although we’ve identified a few potential areas for research below to serve as examples of research questions we would be interested in exploring, we welcome research proposals investigating concentrated private power outside the scope of these areas as well.

In recognition of the disparate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous, and people of color; women; and early career scholars, we are offering one-time supplemental productivity grants in an attempt to counter some of the negative consequences of the pandemic on diversity, equity, and inclusion in academia. For more information, please refer to the “Supplemental Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grants” section below.

Funding for this research call is provided by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and Knight Foundation. The Anti-Monopoly Fund is funded by the Ford Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Chris Hughes, Justice Catalyst, Knight Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Omidyar Network, Open Society Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, and Way to Win.

To apply, complete the application here.

Areas of Interest

Market Structure, Competition, and Alternative Models:

  • What is corporate power and which elements of corporate power should be of regulatory concern?
  • How does market power manifest itself in certain industries? Are these new forms of market power cognizable under antitrust law? And if not, what policies, regulations or laws should be altered to address these blindspots?
  • What is the impact of market power and anticompetitive harms on other (non-consumer) actors in the wider ecosystem, such as small businesses or “trading partners,” and on marginalized communities like Black, Indigenous, and people of color; workers; and low-income consumers? Is antitrust capable of preventing harms to these trading partners and small competitors?
  • What guidelines should be in place related to vertical mergers? How does vertical integration harm consumers? Workers? Innovation? Competition? Small businesses? How does it deepen racial inequality? Geographic inequality?
  • What is the relationship between racial, economic, and geographic inequality and corporate concentration, market power, and consolidation?
  • How can we measure the impact of corporate concentration, market power, and consolidation on racial, economic, and geographic inequality? What is the relationship between income/wealth inequality and antitrust enforcement? What theoretical approaches to studies of capitalism help explain these trends?
  • How do regulatory tools or alternative models for markets, such as public options, public provision, and public ownership, address economic power? What are the tradeoffs between different approaches to market power? What structural remedies are available and to what extent are they effective in different markets?
  • Is there a nexus between tackling monopoly power and preventing environmental collapse?
    How has antitrust and competition policy enhanced or harmed innovation? Is there evidence that market power means a reduction in R&D spending and innovation?
  • How did the so-called “deregulatory” turn in industrial policy affect the relevant market structures? What were its impacts on marginalized populations? What role should traditional antitrust laws play in the presence of alternative regulatory regimes?
  • What kinds of overlooked “efficiencies” (that could benefit consumers, the public, the natural environment, and/or the macroeconomy) might flow from non-traditional business enterprises or market structures that the law may not currently encourage, such as worker-run firms, cooperatives of small producers or service-providers, and other arrangements?

Law and Policy, Institutions, and Regulatory Interventions:

  • What are the values that inform the laws and policies that construct markets (e.g., antitrust law and competition policy, monetary policy, sectoral regulation, labor laws, and more) and their enforcement?
  • What is — or what could or should be — the role of government in constructing markets in general or in specific sectors? What role do/should courts and judges play? How does jurisprudence shape enforcement and regulatory solutions?
  • What is the scope of anti-monopoly beyond antitrust?
  • What is the role of decentralized, democratic mechanisms of price coordination (e.g., fair trade boards, or the like) in promoting small business, economic democracy, and an anti-monopoly vision? How might these mechanisms be in tension with competition?
  • What metrics can enforcement agencies use to determine whether they are successfully implementing an anti-monopoly policy?
  • How can industrial policies — such as procurement, domestic investment in specific sectors like clean energy — be designed to ensure competition or increase public or democratic power rather than further concentration?
  • How does concentrated power harm national security?
  • How should intellectual property rules — legally protected exclusive rights that can generate monopoly power — be reformed? Are there ways to reform IP law to curb harmful forms of private power, or ensure that IP rules enhance competition over time?
  • How can the Small Business Administration be reformed so that it promotes anti-monopoly activities?

As well as sector-specific questions such as:

  • How has the rise of competition for attention affected technology users? Does excessive harvesting of attention contribute to psychological and social problems? What legal and regulatory framework would be optimal for attention markets?
  • Under what conditions do interoperability rules deepen consolidation and when do they enhance competition?
  • What rules should be placed on data collection and use to prevent problems of concentrated power?
  • How should agriculture policymakers think through the benefits of competition versus price controls? E.g. consider the different approaches taken to the milk sector in the U.S. versus Canada.
  • Has defense consolidation increased costs to the federal government? What has been its impact on innovation? Supply chain resilience?

U.S. Anti-Monopoly Policy in the International Context

  • How does antitrust policy in the US impact anti-monopoly policy in the rest of the world and vice versa?
  • What can be learned from anti-monopoly strategies around the world to inform policy in other jurisdictions?
  • How does the global presence of some monopolies impact regulatory strategy? Is anti-monopoly a global project? What have been the consequences of trade liberalization and the Washington Consensus in the Global South on global anti-monopoly interventions?
  • To what extent can and should corporate power be fought at local, national, regional and international levels?
  • What is the interaction between anti-monopoly and trade policy?
  • How has consolidation and outsourcing combined to weaken global supply chains, with implications for the U.S.?

Labor Markets and Workers:

  • How do law and policy — including antitrust law, labor & employment law, intellectual property, franchising regulations, and beyond — mediate labor markets, allocate economic coordination rights, and balance or reinforce employer power?
  • How do employers exercise power over workers beyond setting wages and benefits (i.e., through control and surveillance, or by controlling or repressing workers’ political or expressive action beyond the workplace)?
  • What challenges do the gig economy business model, or “fissured” business structures more broadly, present? How can policy-makers adjust existing allocations of economic coordination rights in order to improve outcomes for workers and small businesses in these segments of the economy, or to promote alternative viable business models (e.g., worker-run cooperatives)? How does fissuring present itself in the economy, particularly among groups of workers who may be overlooked in conventional discussions of the “gig economy” and the tech sector?
  • How does worker bargaining power change based on their positionality (the social and political context that creates one’s identity — i.e., race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status) in the context of monopsony power and labor market power more generally?
  • How can workers build countervailing power? How do unions and other forms of workplace organizing build worker power? How can labor institutions and proposed labor law reforms serve broader goals of fostering both political and economic democracy?
  • What is or should be the role of re-allocating economic coordination rights within firms and enterprises, and not only within markets (e.g., worker role in corporate governance, works councils, modifications to shareholder primacy, or promoting worker-owned firms)?

Society, Social Movements, and Culture:

  • How are activists, organizers, and practitioners on the ground driving and responding to the moment to push for long-term social and policy change?
  • How are politics responding to social movements and pressure? How can we build on and learn from anti-monopoly movements of the past?
  • What is the nexus between anti-monopoly and civil rights? What is the historical relationship between the anti-monopoly movement and the civil rights movement? How can we imagine a more synergistic relationship between the two contemporary movements today?
  • What role(s) do monopolies play in shaping, replicating, and/or exacerbating social norms and systems of power — such as racialized social and political orders — in the workplace, society, and popular culture?
  • How do we frame the public interest and does the public interest have relevance to the design of anti-monopoly policy?
  • What is the relationship between market power and the power of people as civic participants, patients, students, and other non-consumer roles?

Democracy, Politics, and Governance:

  • Outsized economic power has direct implications for political power. What is the relationship between concentrated private power and regulatory capture? Between concentrated private power and democratic responsiveness?
  • How does the public participate in key decision-making processes that govern private power? Are there new locations or sites where public participation might be incorporated?
  • How can regulatory interventions move our society toward a more egalitarian democracy?
  • How do new developments in markets (for instance, algorithms) change and present new challenges for systems of governance?
  • What are the implications of rule of law for anti-monopoly policy?
  • How did the New Dealers and Marshall Plan advocates see the relationship between consolidation and fascism?

Eligibility

Grants are available to professors, postdocs, or PhD candidates affiliated with academic institutions. Applicants may submit individual proposals or joint proposals with other principal investigators. Researchers affiliated with research institutions such as think tanks may also apply with the expectation that the end deliverable is an article for submission and publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal. Grants must be administered through the affiliated university or research institution.

We especially want to hear from early-career and/or first-generation scholars as well as scholars of color who are underrepresented in their field. We encourage these applicants to apply.

What We Fund

To apply for funding, one of your major outputs should be an article for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal. You may have other outputs associated with the grant application. Funding is available for a wide range of research activities, including researcher salary and benefits, research assistance (including support for postdocs, PhD candidates, and law students), data collection, participation in conferences, and other research-related activities and deliverables to work toward an article to be published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. We are flexible on other supplemental deliverables to complement academic articles. We are also open to providing dissertation improvement funds if applicants have plans to publish an academic journal article based on their dissertation.

We are especially interested in research with important policy implications for enforcement or new regulatory solutions to counter corporate concentration.

Grants range from $10,000 to $100,000 across a period of up to two years. We are open to grant deferral periods of up to one year to account for the uncertain realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How To Apply

Applications are open and will be accepted through July 2021. We will review applications in two rounds, with a first round deadline on Monday, May 17 and a second round deadline on Monday, July 19. We may defer applications submitted by the first round deadline or ask applicants to revise proposals based on review.

  • To apply, please submit for each principal investigator on a proposal a CV, a short writing sample (10 pages max, published or unpublished material is acceptable), a disclosures statement, and a (joint) concise 2-3 page statement of grant purpose that addresses the following questions:
  • What is the problem statement? What research questions are you seeking to answer? How does this research intersect with anti-monopoly work?
  • How are you best positioned to conduct this research?
  • What impact do you anticipate this research having?
  • What is your methodological approach and timeline for completion?
  • What deliverables do you anticipate from your research?
  • What is your preliminary budget, based on total expected cost of the project and costs breakdown (i.e., salaries, research assistance, data collection, etc.)?

Email us at antimonopoly@economicsecurityproject.org with questions. Applications will be reviewed by members of our Advisory Committee. We may contact applicants for additional information.

Advisory Committee

Jonathan Baker
Brandi Collins-Dexter
Amy Kapczynski
Michelle Meagher
John Newman
Sanjukta Paul
Dania Rajendra
Hal Singer

Committee members may differ for the second round of the research call. Advisors will also recuse themselves from reviewing proposals that pose potential conflicts.

Supplemental Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grants

The fallout from the ongoing pandemic is exacerbating existing inequities in academia. Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American/Pacific Islander communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Additionally, research confirms that women’s research productivity has been negatively impacted by increased caregiving and other gendered responsibilities during COVID-19. These public health implications also mean that scholars from these backgrounds — especially women of color who are more likely to care for aging parents while also caring for their own children — are more likely to experience professional disruption, even as they navigate pre-existing disparities regarding merit, tenure, and promotion. We are also aware of the disruption early career scholars face at this critical time, as many institutions have implemented hiring freezes or brought new research projects to a standstill. The pandemic may have long-term ramifications on racial and gender equity in academia for years to come.

In acknowledgement of these current realities, the Anti-Monopoly Fund is committed to providing additional support to counter these long-term effects on equity in the field. We are offering one-time $1,000 grants for individuals who have been impacted by these trends. These funds are meant to address COVID-19-related disruptions given public health racial disparities, increased caregiving responsibilities, and other pandemic-related trends, and are meant to complement academic research grants from the Anti-Monopoly Fund; in other words, these productivity grants must be paired with work outlined in the scope of the Anti-Monopoly Fund academic research grant proposal, and must be used during the same time period. We especially encourage applications from researchers who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and other people of color; women; people who identify as gender non-conforming; people with disabilities; and/or junior scholars or early career.

These funds may be used toward meals, work spaces, childcare, eldercare, application fees for research fellowships or other professional development opportunities, or other purposes. We recognize that many of these suggested forms of support would not be possible without Black and brown workers on the frontlines, and encourage applicants to consider these racial and class implications. To apply, please indicate your interest on the application form and include a budget line item detailing how you intend to use these funds in your application.

We recognize that these accommodations are modest, as they are meant to bolster institutional support from universities, employers, and government. In the absence of institutional and societal norms for these types of support amid our ongoing crises, we’ve decided to offer these funds and resources as an interim measure to respond to immediate needs even though we believe that the burden to do so should not fall on philanthropy primarily, but on government, universities, and other employers. We hope that our decision to do so encourages other actors to follow our lead and implement more race-, gender-, and disability-conscious accommodations and policies to build toward a more equitable and inclusive society.

Disclosure and Ethics Policy

We are committed to robust norms and expectations for transparency through 1) disclosures to the Economic Security Project (ESP) as part of the application process and 2) disclosures to the public by ESP grantees if we award an academic research grant. Disclosure represents a commitment to transparency and does not necessarily indicate a bias or conflict. We view disclosures as a critical part of building public trust in scholarship. The credibility of research depends in part on how transparently researchers’ relationships and activities are disclosed throughout the planning, execution, writing, peer review, editing, and publication stages. In this spirit, we ask applicants to disclose their relationships, activities, and interests as part of their application for funding from the Economic Security Project.

Your disclosure forms will be read by ESP staff and may be shared with members of the advisory committee. Disclosure forms will be kept confidential. We and other people, including the general public, may disagree on whether certain relationships, activities, or interests represent conflict of interests when it comes to specific research proposals, but we believe that it is only with transparent, complete disclosures that the audience can make their own judgments about whether a researcher’s relationships, activities, or interests are pertinent to the research proposal — and the final research outputs and outcomes — at hand. These relationships, activities, or interests do not necessarily indicate a problematic influence on the proposed research project, but we know that even the perception of conflict through non-disclosure may erode trust in the research process and outcomes as much as actual conflicts of interest, and so opt for full and complete disclosure here.

This disclosure policy builds on those established in the field, such as the Academic Society for Competition Law, American Economic Association, American Sociological Association, and International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

Applicants are asked to complete the following disclosure form and upload it as their disclosure statement as part of their application. We ask that you complete this disclosure form using information that pertains only to the specific content/topic of the research proposal for which you are submitting an application for funding from the Economic Security Project, and that you provide information on any relevant relationships, activities, or interests that you, a close relative, or a spouse/partner hold. Applicants would only need to agree to adhere to this disclosure policy at large for the duration of their ESP grant term should they receive a research grant from the Anti-Monopoly Fund for activities related to their ESP-funded research proposal and the research activities content of that proposal.

As part of a grant award, recipients agree to fully disclose all relevant relationships, activities, and interests in accordance to these principles in publications and speaking engagements discussing the content of their ESP-funded research, including:

  • academic journals,
  • op-ed pieces,
  • newspaper and magazine articles,
  • radio or television commentaries, and
  • testimony before federal and state government bodies.

Full and complete transparency through this practice recognizes that researchers must be cognizant of potential bias and conflicts of interest, or even the appearance of such conflicts. Appropriate disclosures may also be made on the researcher’s publicly-available web page.

For research proposals that involve the collection of data on human subjects that are funded by the Economic Security Project, the principal researcher(s) should obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and disclose whether they have done so; if no IRB approval was obtained, the reason should be stated in their disclosures when publishing their research results.

Disclosure Form

To help the committee and staff make informed decisions in evaluating proposals, please complete this form to disclose all relationships, activities, or interests related to the content of your research proposal in the goal of transparency. Disclosure represents a commitment to transparency and does not necessarily indicate a bias or conflict.

Any relation with a third party whose interest may be affected by the content of this proposal should be disclosed, but sources of financial support need only to be disclosed if they sum up to at least $2,000 in the last three years. Disclosures should be precise and should include, to the extent legally permitted, information on the party that has provided funding or in-kind support. An “interested” party is any individual, group, or organization that has a financial, ideological, or political stake, broadly defined, related to your research proposal. Principal researchers should identify all affiliations that could reasonably be perceived as a source of potential bias. 

Disclosure also includes in-kind support, such as providing access to data. If the support has been channeled through a law firm, a non-governmental organization, a public relations or communications firm, or an advocacy or political pressure group, the original source should be stated.

If there are specific circumstances that prevent disclosure, the reason for that should be disclosed, along with as much information and context about that relationship, activity, or interest as possible. For instance, if an activity comes with a non-disclosure obligation, you should disclose as much information as the obligation permits, along with the fact of the obligation. 

If you are not sure about whether to disclose a relationship, activity, or interest, we would prefer that you err on the side of over-reporting, rather than under-reporting, and opt for full disclosure. Please reach out to antimonopoly@economicsecurityproject.org should you have any questions about what you should disclose.

Examples of disclosures to keep in mind as you’re completing the disclosures form (these examples are meant to serve as guidance and are not inclusive of the types of relationships, activities, and interests broadly defined you should include in this form):

  • To borrow an example from the ICMJE, if your proposal pertains to the epidemiology of hypertension, you should disclose all relationships with manufacturers of antihypertensive medicine, even if that medication is not included in your research scope. 
  • If your research proposal implicates a company or market under investigation by U.S. regulatory or other government institutions, you should disclose any relationships, activities, or interests with companies that could be reasonably perceived to have a stake in this work. For instance, if your research proposal pertains to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, or Google — which have been the targets of a the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee investigation — we request that you disclose relationships, activities, or interests with any of these companies with as much context as you can legally share (e.g., the area of expertise that an applicant consulted on — for instance, a copyright dispute involving x company).
  • If there are concerns about potential retaliation should disclosure alert a party about a forthcoming lawsuit or other enforcement action, we ask that you disclose as much information and context as possible while also respecting your affiliated party’s anonymity. 

Each principal investigator affiliated with a proposal should complete a separate form, and is responsible for the completeness and accuracy of their declarations. Each principal investigator should also disclose any relationships, activities, or interests held by any close relative or spouse/partner. We ask that you complete this disclosure form using information that pertains only to the specific content of the research proposal for which you are submitting an application for funding from the Economic Security Project.

Please declare all entities with whom you, a close relative, or spouse/partner have the following types of relationship pertinent to the content/scope of your research proposal over the past thirty-six months, unless otherwise specified, and specify whether the support was given to you or your institution or any additional context that would be relevant to helping reviewers and the ultimate audience for your research evaluate your disclosures.

If there are no such sources of funds summing to at least $2,000 over the last three years or relationships, that fact should be stated explicitly.

  1. Since the initial planning of the work (with no time limit), all direct and indirect support for this specific research proposal/study (e.g., funding, provision of study materials such as data, etc.) and any parties that will review the paper prior to publication or circulation
  2. Grants or contracts from any entity, including prior or scheduled industry affiliation or employment with interested parties
  3. Consulting fees
  4. Retainers
  5. Payment for expert testimony
  6. Consultation with regulators, legislators, or other public/local authorities
  7. Payment or honoraria for lectures, presentations, speaking opportunities, educational events, or other writing
  8. Support for attending meetings and/or travel
  9. Royalties or licenses
  10. Patents planned, issued or pending
  11. Paid or unpaid leadership, fiduciary, officer, or board member roles in relevant non-profit or for-profit entities, including corporations, colleges and universities, research centers, civil society, or advocacy groups. A “relevant” organization is one whose policy positions, goals, or financial interests relate to the article.
  12. Stock or stock options
  13. Receipt of equipment, materials, products, gifts, or other services
  14. Other financial or non-financial interests
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