The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University is a regional and national leader in theoretical and applied research in agricultural, environmental, and natural resource economics. Our faculty and graduate students are involved in a wide variety of research projects in these fields, and are committed to disseminating the results of this research to both academic and non-academic audiences.
Agricultural Economics and Marketing Research
The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University is engaged in many research projects regarding demand, supply, and agent behavior in the agricultural and food sectors. In addition to the traditional study of agricultural production, management, and finance in the field, DARE faculty and students are also engaged in research related to marketing, consumer behavior, risk and decision analysis, and industrial organization. In addition, our focus on applied research results in a considerable body of policy-relevant research. Our location along the Front Range of Colorado provides ample opportunities for applied research on Colorado and other Western agricultural sectors, including local and organic food systems, the beer and wine industries, fruit production along the Western slope, potatoes in the San Luis valley, livestock and animal ID systems, cooperatives, and agricultural management under resource scarcity.
Agricultural marketing and price analysis is an area of economic study that assesses the performance of agricultural markets from several perspectives. This field emphasizes analysis of marketing systems, food processing, and underlying institutions needed to achieve vertical coordination and supply chain management in the agricultural and food marketing system. DARE faculty look at the behavior of prices across time, form, and place. We also look at the influence of industrial organizations and food businesses on the performance of agricultural markets, where competition can determine the level of prices to a degree.
Some of our studies of price behavior have looked at retail pricing in numerous fruit and vegetable markets, including products such as potatoes and canned fruit, and also looked at issues in cattle markets related to price transmission across vertical stages in the marketing system and retail meat price linkages across products in the meat case.
DARE faculty members involved in research in the area of agricultural marketing and price analysis include Dr. Marco Costanigro, Dr. Steve Davies, Dr. Steve Koontz, Dr. James Pritchett, Dr. Dustin Pendell, and Dr. Dawn Thilmany.
As consumer preferences for food products become increasingly diverse, agents in the supply chain face greater challenges and opportunities when marketing their products and services. Economics provides a theoretical foundation and analytical tools to understand today’s complex, dynamic market place. DARE faculty members work with various local producer groups and retailers, providing analyses that aid them to competitively market their products and services to a more demanding customer. Specifically, consumer demand, preference, and trend analysis can assist with new product development and placement, forming pricing strategies, and making a wide variety of marketing decisions; promotion evaluation can aid groups in determining where their advertising dollars go the furthest; and value chain analysis can suggests areas of potential cost savings and value creation. Econometric tools used to conduct these investigations may include hedonics, conjoint analysis, contingent valuation, and sophisticated regression analysis, among many other techniques.
Dr. Dawn Thilmany assists numerous local producers and industry groups in assessing marketing opportunities including specialty market analysis and value-added agribusiness feasibility studies. Dr. Greg Graff has developed a Value Chain analysis of the agricultural and food systems in Colorado to highlight opportunities for innovation. Dr. Marco Costanigro has published works on product attribute valuation and market segmentation, particularly as they apply to the U.S. wine industry and devised innovative econometric methodologies to account for consumer heterogeneity, product differentiation, and market segmentation in hedonic modeling. Other DARE faculty members who research in the area of consumer demand include Dr. Dustin Pendell, and Dr. Steve Davies.
Almost everyone in the department is involved in agricultural and resource policy in some way or another. Research interests cover a broad spectrum of contemporary issues from the local level to the national level. CSU is uniquely situated near the headquarters or hubs for several Federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service, which expands the range of projects we work on. Dr. James Pritchett, Dr. Andy Seidl, Dr. Dawn Thilmany, Dr. Greg Graff and Dr. Dana Hoag, for example, conduct research on the national farm policies including commodity support programs, conservation, food and nutrition, research, technology and development, and rural development. Working locally with USDA, Dr. Dustin Pendell looks at animal identification systems. In cooperation with the State Department of Agriculture and USDA, Dr. Dawn Thilmany has a research program about product labeling and farmers markets. Dr. Steve Koontz is concerned about whether cattle markets need government intervention to stay competitive.
Since there is an emphasis in the department on natural resources and the environment, several faculty also work on policy issues where agriculture has an impact on or is influenced by the environment. Dr. Chris Goemans, Dr. Marshall Frasier, Dr. James Pritchett, Dr. Dana Hoag, Dr. John Loomis, and Dr. Andy Seidl have looked at water use and conservation, organic foods, wildlife (e.g. prairie dogs, elk, deer), ecosystem function, sustainability, public and private land use, water pollution from agriculture, conservation easements and agricultural preservation. Our department cooperates with faculty in several other departments including Soil and Crop Sciences, Animal Sciences, Natural Resources, Engineering, Sociology, Psychology, and Family and Consumer Sciences.
Given the competitive nature of production agriculture, much of the research in this area is focused on determining the efficient use of resources in the production process. These resources include both fixed and variable input factors involved in producing products. Examples would include land, water, labor, capital used to purchase operating inputs (seed, fertilizer, fuel, etc.) and capital used to invest in producing assets (cows, ewes, irrigation systems, etc.).
Often research in production agriculture entails a multi-disciplinary approach to account for the many ramifications of the decision outcome. For example, research into beef herd expansion has animal nutrition, genetics, feed and forage, financing, and marketing implications associated with the decision. Thus, agricultural production research can involve a myriad of questions requiring an interdisciplinary interchange to properly address the many issues facing today’s producers.
A key area of the Department’s research into Agricultural Production is related too limited irrigation systems. The Limited Irrigation Agriculture Project, with Drs. James Pritchett, Ajay Jha, and Marshall Frasier, is a multi-disciplinary project with the objective of developing integrated water, weed and tillage management techniques that efficiently use limited irrigation water supplies to enhance economic sustainability. In addition to field trials, economic analysis of the results will be used to develop decision support systems for limited irrigation in the Great Plains. Benefits and methods of site-specific weed management will be evaluated, and the regional economic activity generated by limited irrigation will be quantified and analyzed.
All economic analysis is a form of Decision Analysis. Researchers in DARE are looking at risks in markets, production and institutions. Marketing professors are looking at how producers at every level of the supply chain make decisions and how market institutions, like the futures market, effect decisions. For example, currently researchers are looking at the role of individual identification for livestock. Production professors examine how producers make decisions about tillage, water, labor, pesticide and other inputs as they relate to farm viability and community health. Institutions of interest include government agencies that attempt to influence farming systems such as the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
One major risk effort is the research and outreach program called RightRisk, involving Drs. Dana Hoag and Jay Parsons. The program includes a ten-step management program and a computer simulation workshop that puts users in realistic agricultural management scenarios. Another that is becoming more widely discussed as well as accepted by agricultural producers in Colorado is insurance. Utilizing insurance as a revenue, income protection tool involves understanding one’s ability to bear or carry risk as well as analyzing the level of coverage and selecting the appropriate insurance product to meet the needs of the individual producer is very important.
Finally, many researchers are looking at risk indirectly through decision analysis. Economic theory provides a rich tapestry for explaining behaviors like when and why farmers and ranchers adopt technologies, why politicians advocate one policy over another, or why some people adopt environmental protection measures more readily than others. Knowing why people donate land for conservation easements can help society better protect land. Likewise, understanding how markets work can help a decision maker use the futures market to manage risk.
Our core research in management and finance considers how small and medium sized businesses allocate their physical, human and financial resources. Research encompasses many dimensions including entrepreneurial activities, strategic positioning, direct and niche marketing, evolving consumer preferences, investment analysis and succession planning. Many business forms are examined including sole proprietorships, limited liability companies and cooperatives.
Faculty that work in this area include Dr. Norm Dalsted who has extensive experience in the area of financial reorganization, Chapter 11 and 12 bankruptcy, financial mediation, financial statement preparation and analysis. Moreover, Dr. Dalsted has developed materials explaining succession planning and estate planning while working with a number of Colorado farm and ranch estates. Dr. James Pritchett’s applied research considers firm level risk management, crop insurance and marketing plans, investment analysis using real options, strategic planning for cooperatives using benchmark data, best management practices for nutrient recycling, manure, and the adoption of limited irrigation practices. Dr. Dawn Thilmany’s applied research program includes feasibility analyses for value-added and alternative enterprises, as well as analysis of how financial performance may vary across regions and areas with more or less urban influence.
Graduate students in management and finance receive valuable, hands-on training when working on applied management and finance issues. These students have recently completed internships with a Fort Collins agricultural marketing cooperative, the USDA Agricultural Research Service and CoBank, the national bank of cooperatives. As part of the research team, graduate students interact extensively with agribusiness and government stakeholders including Colorado’s Potato Advisory Committee, the Colorado Association of Wheat Growers, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Colorado Livestock Association, the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, Colorado Homestead Market, Western Sugar, Inc. and many more. Students are actively engaged in research presentations at national meetings and many have the opportunity to develop their teaching skills through assistantships in our undergraduate agribusiness program.
Industrial Organization research focuses on the strategic behavior of firms among different stages of the food marketing supply chain. Work in the department is primarily focused on effects of contracting relationships Drs. Steve Koontz and James Pritchett; potential market power exerted because of consolidation, Dr. Steve Koontz; and coordinated activities to retain value and product identity through supply chain relationships, Drs. Marco Costanigro and Dawn Thilmany.
Natural Resource and Environmental Economics Research
Many faculty and students in DARE are engaged in cutting-edge research in the fields of environmental and natural resource economics, with an emphasis on non-market valuation, water economics, natural resource economics and policy, recreation economics, public lands management, and invasive species. Our location along the Colorado Front Range provides exceptional opportunities for applied local and regional analysis of environmental and resource issues, and we partner closely with the U.S. Forest Service and other state and federal agencies to develop research projects that help inform decision-makers and shape public policy.
Non-market valuation is a sub-field within environmental economics that deals with theoretical and practical aspects of estimating monetary values on non-marketed environmental goods and services. Research in this area typically involves statistical analysis of primary data collected via survey methods to quantify the welfare gains or losses associated with change in levels of environmental quality. Through these methods, economists recover the economic benefits of goods not traded in formal markets, thereby providing essential information for environmental policy and management decisions. Specifically, techniques include the travel cost method of recreational demand, the hedonic property pricing model, averting behavior analysis, contingent valuation, contingent rating/ranking, and stated choice experiments.
Dr. John Loomis is a leading scholar in the field, and has completed a wide range of valuation projects on such diverse resources as rivers, recreational fisheries, public lands, endangered species, water quality, and forest fires. Dr. Dana Hoag has done similar research on farmers’ preferences for private and public good attributes of irrigation systems. Dr. Dawn Thilmany has applied these techniques to attributes related to food products, such as the valuation of organic beef or nutritionally-enhanced foods.
At its most basic level, economics is simply the study of how scarce resources are allocated among competing uses. With regard to water, societies must make choices involving how to allocate existing supplies, as well as determining the level of resources that should be dedicated to expanding the quantity, quality, and access to existing supplies. Understanding the impacts of these choices has become increasingly important in the face of severe drought, rapid population growth and the future uncertainty associated with climate change.
Economists who study water resources apply standard economic tools to, for example, estimate the costs and benefits associated with various water supply projects (e.g. dams, water re-use, etc.); determine the effectiveness of particular water demand management programs (e.g. price, restrictions, etc.); and identify the value of improving water quality.
The work of Drs. Christopher Goemans and James Pritchett provides examples of ongoing water resource related research within the department. Dr. Goemans has conducted research relating to municipal water demand management and understanding the potential effects of climate change on municipal water systems. In collaboration with the City of Parker, Dr. Pritchett was part of a project aimed at developing alternative irrigation strategies for farmers faced with limited water supplies. For more information on ongoing research within the department specific to water, contact Dr. Christopher Goemans.
Natural resource economics is traditionally concerned with the allocation of natural capital used as inputs into production systems. Examples include non-renewable resources such as minerals and petroleum, renewable resources such as forests and fish, and more specialized resources such as land, water, biodiversity, wildlife, and other ecosystem services. In addition, the relationship between developing countries and resource use is a major area of study. A key component of many natural resource allocation problems is that decisions are linked from period to period; in other words, the decision environment is dynamic, rather than static.
Environmental economics is the study of flows of residuals from economic activities, both production and consumption, into natural environments. These residuals, often called pollution, have negative effects on human welfare in the forms of reduced environmental quality to be enjoyed by society and adverse health impacts. The field of economics that studies the cost of environmental damage and pollution abatement, and the benefits and costs of environmental policies and management regimes, is called environmental economics, and includes both theoretical and empirical research.
Dr. John Loomis is a leading scholar in the environmental economics. His body of work in this field includes over 175 peer-reviewed publications on benefits of protecting natural environments. Dr. Dana Hoag has worked on farmers’ preferences for private and public good attributes of irrigation systems. Other DARE faculty members conducting research in this field include Dr. Dawn Thilmany and Dr. Andrew Seidl.
Almost everyone in the department is involved in agricultural and resource policy in some way or another. Research interests cover a broad spectrum of contemporary issues from the local level to the national level. CSU is uniquely situated near the headquarters or hubs for several federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service, which expands the range of projects we work on. Dr. James Pritchett, Dr. Andy Seidl, Dr. Dawn Thilmany, Dr. Greg Graff and Dr. Dana Hoag, for example, conduct research on the national farm policies including commodity support programs, conservation, food and nutrition, research, technology and development, and rural development. Working locally with USDA, Dr. Dustin Pendell looks at animal identification systems. In cooperation with the State Department of Agriculture and USDA, Dr. Dawn Thilmany has a research program about product labeling and farmers markets and Dr. Steve Koontz is concerned about whether cattle markets need government intervention to stay competitive.
Since there is an emphasis in the department on natural resources and the environment, several faculty also work on policy issues where agriculture has an impact on or is influenced by the environment. Dr. Chris Goemans, Dr. Marshall Frasier, Dr. James Pritchett, Dr. Dana Hoag, Dr. John Loomis, and Dr. Andy Seidl have looked at water use and conservation, organic foods, wildlife (e.g. prairie dogs, elk, deer), ecosystem function, sustainability, public and private land use, water pollution from agriculture, conservation easements and agricultural preservation. Our department cooperates with faculty in several other departments including Soil and Crop Science, Animal Science, Natural Resources, Engineering, Sociology, Psychology, and Family and Consumer Sciences.
Public land management research focuses on the allocation of natural resources among competing multiple uses on Federal National Forest and lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Research focus on National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges includes valuation of recreation and wildlife. Research on ecosystem management focuses on the coordinated planning of natural resource use on not only these four federal lands but also state and county lands as well. The overall goal is to ensure that these lands provide the mix of public and private goods that meets the demands of current generations without compromising the ability to meet new demands of future generations (i.e., the public lands are used sustainably).
Dr. John Loomis has conducted research on how visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park respond to changes in natural resources influenced by climate change. He has researched how visitation to Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge change with different numbers of elk and bison. A major focus of his research is how much visitors and the general public would pay to reduce risk of catastrophic wildfires on public lands through use of prescribed burning and mechanical fuel reduction. Dr. Andrew Seidl has conducted research on how visitors to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Michoacán, Mexico; Glaciers National Park in Argentine, Patagonia; and cruise tourists visiting marine and terrestrial parks and archeological sites in Central America and the Caribbean respond to changes in the quality and costs of tourist services. A major focus of his research surrounds the distribution of the financial returns of tourism development and the incentives for natural resource stewardship in developing countries and communities.
Tourism and recreation are among the fastest growing and most important economic activities across the globe. They are of particular importance to a state with abundant and relatively unique natural features such as Colorado. Our national parks and protected areas, our fish and wildlife, our wild rivers and streams and our mountains attract millions of visitors per year and increase the well-being of Coloradoan’s in at least two ways: (1) direct enjoyment citizens of Colorado receive from visiting these areas; (2) employment, income and taxes generated by non-resident visitors to Colorado.
Market signals are inadequate to reflect the societal value of most outdoor recreation and tourism experiences. As a result, indirect and non-market valuation techniques including hedonic pricing, contingent valuation, contingent behavior, and travel cost methods on recreation and tourism issues more accurately illuminate these issues relative to activities whose values are better reflected in markets.
Dr. John Loomis has invested the better part of three decades investigating the economic issues surrounding recreation, most often on Colorado and the West’s abundant public lands including our National Parks, National Forests, and BLM managed lands. In particular, his research has valued hiking, mountain biking, fishing and other recreation activities, as well as the public lands they depend upon. Recent research includes valuation of recreation in Puerto Rico’s Caribbean National Forest, Wyoming and Idaho. Dr. Dawn Thilmany’s recent work looks at agritourism as a part of alternative enterprises for Colorado farms and ranches, as well as industry level analyses of the golf and wine industries as drivers of local economic activity. Dr. Andy Seidl’s research combines valuation methods with regional economic analysis in order to better inform community scale decision making. He works on land use planning and the valuation of working landscapes in Colorado communities where natural resource based tourism, second home development and “amenity migrants” are important drivers of local economic development. Internationally, he has used valuation methods at parks and protected areas in Albania, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Honduras to facilitate understanding of non-market values created by their natural heritage.
Development Economics Research
Faculty and students in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics are engaged in a variety of research related to development at community, regional, and international scales. There are a number of agricultural and resource allocation issues at the community and regional levels in Colorado, including land use, tax policy, and resource valuation, as well as fiscal impact analysis, industry analysis, and labor market issues. Our international experience involves projects in East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Community members and stakeholders grapple with serious questions: Can we replace the jobs lost when industry moves? Are we growing too fast? How can we preserve the quality of life that we are accustomed to? Is our community affordable for all of its residents? Community economics frames these questions in an economic context by describing the linkages between economic sectors, chronicling the types of skills and jobs available, facilitating local economic policies to meet local quality of life objectives, and inventorying the available natural, human, financial and capital resources.
Community Economics is often considered a sub-discipline of regional economics as many methods and approaches attempt to adapt regional methods to sub-regional units, including communities. One of the unique opportunities and challenges of this sub-discipline involves its data. Locating adequate, dependable and appropriate data to undertake analyses is difficult at such a small scale. As a result, qualitative and quantitative primary data collection methods and stakeholder driven collaborative processes often run parallel to secondary data mining in importance to community economic analysis. Community resource and rural development are closely related fields of inquiry. Principles of welfare economics and project analysis are also essential to the successful practitioner of community, regional and rural economics.
Faculty and Graduate Students of the Department are at the forefront of CSU’s efforts in community, regional and rural economics. Applied research and outreach activities within this focal area include economic base analysis, industry studies/impact analysis, federal, state and local policy and fiscal impact analysis. The principal DARE faculty involved in this area of inquiry are Dr. Steve Davies, Dr. Dawn Thilmany, Dr. James Pritchett and Dr. Andy Seidl. Several of these faculty are affiliates of the Center for Research on the Colorado Economy. Examples of recent work of DARE faculty and graduate students include the economic influence of sugar beets, golf, wine, beef packing plants, Chronic Wasting Disease, skiing, BLM management plans, land use planning alternatives, mountain climbing, lodging taxes, transfer of water rights, and community forestry organizations as well as econometric projections of capital investment expenditures and rural residential development in Colorado and overviews of the role of immigration and Hispanic population growth on the counties of Colorado.
Industry Studies are used to define industries in terms of their contribution to the economy, with particular attention to market forces and policies that may be affecting growth, competitiveness or resource constraints to the industry. The analyses draw from secondary data collected from government sources, and when applicable, surveys of industry participants and their customers.
Dr. Dawn Thilmany, Dr. Steve Davies, and Dr. Andy Seidl either have examined or are in the process of researching different industry sectors in the context of relationships with communities, their economic base and interactions with public lands and other natural resources. Recent industry partners include the oil and gas, green ornamental horticulture, dairy, sugar beet, golf, meat packing, wine, aquaculture, and agritourism industries, as well as full industry baselines for a number of Colorado counties.
International agricultural development has been part of our work in the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department for many years. In general, we take topics we study domestically into the international arena through contracts and grants and via international graduate students. Over the years, we have worked on a large variety of project internationally: agribusiness projects in Pakistan, Indonesia and Brazil; water issues in Egypt and Pakistan; the value of national parks and other amenities in Costa Rica, Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras, and Albania. We also have many international students in our program who usually undertake studies related to their own countries. Recently, these students have worked on topics in Chile, Kenya, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Korea, Nepal, and Vietnam. Historically, CSU had much international water related-research and economic development projects, and with increased recognition of worldwide shortages in water quantity and also with quality issues, the department is once again looking to move into international projects in this area. We have also worked with the USDA’s Faculty Exchange Program in Russia, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine for over a decade (Armenia, Serbia, Uzbekistan), providing support to Former Soviet Union economics and agricultural economics departments as they learned how to teach courses based on market economics.
Many of the faculty in the department have taken part in international activities. A number of faculty have had significant background and activity in this area. Steve Davies, who has worked on small enterprise development projects in Egypt and Indonesia, agricultural policy and agribusiness activities in Pakistan, and has had numerous international graduate students, quite often as a co-advisor for students from Saudi Arabia is one. Andy Seidl, who works on natural resource based economic development, including tourism, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean, is another. James Pritchett has begun to adapt his significant background in regional water issues to international dimensions.
Labor market issues related to farmworker trends, immigration policy and Hispanic demographic shifts have significant impacts on the agricultural sector and rural development in Colorado. Using secondary data on the farm labor market, population changes and migration, we assess potential implications of past and proposed farm labor regulations and immigration policies.
Dr. Dawn Thilmany has presented at several national conferences focused on provisions of pending immigration reform proposals, the role of legal and unauthorized farm workers in U.S. agriculture and impacts of immigration on Rural America. She has also worked with Stephan Weiler in the Department of Economics to look at differences in labor market conditions in different areas of Colorado.
These are mainly multidisciplinary research topics currently being investigated by DARE and other departments at Colorado State University. As Colorado, the West, the country, and the world continue to evaluate the trade-offs inherent in agricultural, environmental, and natural resource allocation decisions, this list will continue to grow and evolve in response to interesting, cutting-edge research.
Invasive species pose potential and real economic threats to U.S. agriculture and other sectors of the economy by impacting U.S. consumers, producers, and trade through reduced crop and livestock production. Additionally, invasive pests’ present stresses on native ecosystems, such as forests, which can severely reduce forest species populations, altered forest composition, and threaten habitat for endangered animal species. Information about potential economic consequences of invasive species and the costs and benefits of programs to control them can help policy makers make informed management decisions.
Dr. Dustin Pendell has published work on the economic impacts of a FMD outbreak. Other faculty in DARE that have dealt with livestock and wildlife disease issues include: Dr. Dana Hoag, Dr. Stephen Koontz, Dr. James Pritchett, Dr. Andy Seidl, and Dr. Dawn Thilmany.
Alternative energy research is one of the most pressing research topics in natural resource economics. Economic studies in this area frequently evaluate the feasibility of alternatives to traditional fossil fuels, which include wind, solar energy, and bio-fuels. Alternative energy also encompasses marketing, policy and legal research, as a key issue in the impact of corn production for fuel versus food. New markets have also emerged, such as the carbon credit market and the futures markets for wind energy. Additional research opportunities exist for comparison of costs between production, refining, and distribution systems, the market potential and consumer preferences for biofuels and related capital goods, the regional and national economic and environmental impacts of biofuel production and distribution, and the general equilibrium and welfare implications of the evolving biofuels market.
Dr. Norm Dalsted and Extension Specialist Rodney Sharp are evaluating the feasibility of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, and biodiesel as a primary energy source for Colorado farmers and ranchers. Their ongoing research addresses the needed financial outlay and operating costs associated with alternative energy as a replacement for conventional energy sources, particularly for irrigation uses. Dr. Dana Hoag examines how biofuels companies can benefit from emerging carbon markets and carbon regulation.
Intellectual capital is an increasingly important driver of economic growth and wellspring for improvement in the human condition. Traditional sectors in agriculture, natural resources, and industry are being revolutionized by the creation of new knowledge and technologies. In 2006 global research and development spending exceeded $1 trillion. In agriculture, over $30 billion a year is spent on R&D, with two thirds spent by governments and one third by industry. Work here at CSU is aimed at analyzing the economics of innovation, investigating the role of intellectual property as an incentive for innovation, and understanding the impacts on agriculture and natural resource. For instance, what is the right division of innovative labor between the public sector and the private sector? How important are entrepreneurs, versus established industry, in introducing new technologies? How can government labs and research universities enhance, through innovative methods of technology transfer, the beneficial impacts of their R&D? How can the exchange of intellectual property–such as patents or plant breeder’s rights–be improved upon, such as through enhanced market mechanisms? How do industry groups and special interest groups influence the rate and direction of R&D?
Specific projects being undertaken include:
- the technological trajectories of agricultural biotechnologies
- “neglected” R&D projects for agricultural development in low income countries
- the political economy of European policies on biotechnologies in agricultural and food markets
- the patenting of biotechnologies in over 60 countries worldwide
- the patent landscape in biofuels
- more efficient exchange of technical data, patent rights, and ethical provenance for stem cell R&D
- alternative models of patenting, licensing, and new venture creation for the “entrepreneurial” university
Dr. Greg Graff is the primary contact for this research area.
Over the last few decades, economic experiments have become a well-respected tool in economic research. In such experiments, subjects in a laboratory or in the field face meaningful monetary incentives that resemble incentives from the real world, albeit scaled down. Similar to other empirical studies, experiments can be used for several purposes: testing theories, finding correlations between different variables, and examining institutions. Laboratory experiments are complements to empirical studies, when real-world data are not available or the relationship between two or more variables is difficult to disentangle. They offer the advantage that all variables can be held constant, while only the variable of interest is varied across different treatments to find its impact.
Dr. Stephan Kroll is the primary contact for this research area. He is currently undertaking several projects, including some with other members of the DARE faculty:
- Inquiries into the acceptability and efficiency of incentive-based instruments for environmental and congestion problems; for example, Pigouvian taxes and responsive pricing;
- Experiments to test price behavior and efficiency of several agricultural and water market institutions – one project on water markets with Dr. Chris Goemans;
- Food valuation projects to examine consumers’ willingness to pay for local and/or organic food – with, among others, Dr. Dawn Thilmany and Dr. Marco Costanigro, as well as economist Dr. Joshua Goldstein in CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources;
- An examination of coordination problems related to forest fire prevention – with U.S. National Forest Service economists Dr. Thomas Brown and Dr. Patricia Champ, who are also adjunct faculty for DARE; and
- Experiments on decision-making in groups.