Research and research areas

Last changed: 09 March 2020

Decisions involving scarce resources is a common definition of economics. The research area Economics is usually divided into Business Economics and Economics. The research at the Department within bioeconomy, forest economics and policy, industrial economics and, natural resource economics belongs to both academic disciplines. Research is conducted at the Department’s two locations, Umeå and Uppsala where the Uppsala focus is mainly industrial economics whilst the remaining areas are foremost being researched in Umeå.

Bioeconomy

The research areas connected to the part of the economy that is based on biomass or bio-techniques. A bio-based economy often refers to a future state where fossil fuels and materials are replaced by renewable ones. The purpose of a bio-based economy system is to reduce the effect of climate change and reduce the use of non-renewable resources. At the same time, the services of the ecosystem should be optimized, and actively contribute to the development of the economy. Sustainable criteria and how the natural resources are governed are central within the field. Classical examples of sectors that is included in bioeconomy research are agriculture, forestry, forest industry, chemistry and energy sectors.  

It is not uncommon to see the concept  circularity in connection to bioeconomy. The concept of circular economy is about re-using a resource renewable or non-renewable, until it is depleted, and to reduce waste. It is therefore not the same as bioeconomy, however, they intersect. The concept of bioeconomy and circular economy; circular bioeconomy can be said to focus on increasing efficiency when using resource, reducing waste as well as mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Forest Economics and Policy

Forest economics studies the management of forests with the aim of achieving the greatest sustainable benefits to society. Forests produce a multitude of benefits ranging from extractive (e.g. timber) and non-extractive (e.g. recreation, carbon sequestration) uses to non-use values. Forest economists take into consideration tangible and intangible consequences of forest resource management, including conservation, to compare different outcomes. By examining trade-offs in outcomes, including impacts to landowners, industry, and society as a whole, forest economics helps guide land management, resource utilization and public policy.

Our research in forest policy focuses on institutions, property rights and policies to govern forest resources and to guide decision making towards a sustainable bio-based economy. The focus is mainly on European and Swedish conditions.

Industrial economics

The industrial economics group has a research focus that covers the wood based value chain as part of a sustainable bio-economy. Our research includes both product and service production with a triple bottom line understanding in a context of global competition. We are especially interested in resource and operations management, innovation at product, process and system level and ethical aspects of corporate conduct (Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR).

Much of our research is done in collaboration with industrial and academic partners. We are eager to provide relevant input in the sustainable development processes in society, ranging from corporate and consumer behavior, to the role of NGOs and policy institutions. Our research output is communicated through various channels; our teaching, advisory services, industrial reports and academic output.

We welcome dialogue and treasure collaborative efforts in all of our doings. Please make contact with any of us if you want to know more about our capabilities and ambitions.

Resource Economics

Our Resource Economics research is centred around two broad areas: the economics of renewable energy, and understanding decision-making processes related to resource and environmental questions. The research on energy, strongly influenced by questions pertinent to the Swedish and European context today, is focused on: exploring questions related to the efficient provision of renewable energy; the design of future electricity markets; understanding how consumer energy-related behaviour interacts with markets for renewable energy; and the intersection between energy, forests and climate.

Our research on exploring decision making processes in resource contexts involves a range of approaches, including choice experiments and controlled lab and field experiments, on decision makers as varied as students, pastoralists, and other resource-related decision makers. Lab experiments are focused on how individuals make choices on values or tacit motivations that are not directly observable in the field and how individuals interact in relevant contexts e.g common property management and resources depletion. Field experiments tell us how resource owners behave in their actual resource use settings. In its emphasis on moving beyond the traditional sphere of understanding decisions and values, our group is at the research frontier on understanding how resources are, and ought to be, managed. We also actively contribute to public policy making via projects with relevant public authorities and private institutions.


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