Let's suppose you're the fund manager and you want to maximize impact of your dollars. But there are too many researchers applying for grant. What do you do? You divest rather than invest, and hope that one of the projects will churn out useful outcome.
If you want to focus your money for deeper impact, people will definitely accuse you of favoritism. It is hard to prove innocent because research is, intrinsically, a very specialized craft, and only very specialized people understand the qualifications. Sometimes experts don't agree on the qualifications either. Once you are accused and unable to prove yourself innocent, your career as a fund manager would be ruined due to academic misconduct allegations. If you distribute your funds fairly and squarely, people can still accuse you of favoritism, but at least you have plausible deniability.
From a researcher's point of view, research is really about begging money to do things you want to do. Or if you end up not doing what you want to do, simply begging money. Historically only the nobles have the time and money to do research. This is what I always tell my friends:
- If you have no money and no time, make time.
- Now you have time but still no money. Make money with your time.
- Now you have money but no time. Make money smarter so you save time.
- Now you have both time and money, do whatever you want.