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Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


Research from AEDE Faculty Members Sam, Partridge, Kraybill and Southgate Profiled in the OARDC SEEDS Grant Competition Progress Report

Oct. 2, 2012

The yearly report of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) profiling the research work of the SEEDS – OARDC’s Research Enhancement Competitive Grants Program – winners was released last month and included research profiles of two projects overseen by AEDE faculty. The projects include SEEDS grant funded research on voluntary pollution practices by businesses by AEDE Associate Professor Abdoul G. Sam, and SEEDS grant funded research on using improved land-use data to strengthen rural and urban economies by AEDE Professor and Swank Chair in Rural-Urban Policy, Mark Partridge, AEDE Professor Dave Kraybill, AEDE Professor and Associate Director of Ohio State’s Subsurface Energy Resource Center (SERC), Douglas Southgate, Department of Entomology Professor and Kellogg Endowed Chair in Agricultural Ecosystem Management, Casey W. Hoy, and Environment and Natural Resources Professor Linda M. Lobao. 

The yearly report of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) profiling the research work of the SEEDS program's grant winners. Photo Credit: OARDC SEEDS program.

As reported in the SEEDS research progress report, Sam’s research focuses on exploring what motivates businesses to adopt voluntary pollution prevention practices and the effects that these practices have on environmental innovation, which is regarded by researchers as a key source of environmental improvement. Sam’s research seeks to fill the current information gap related to the effects of voluntary pollution prevention practices on a business’s ability to develop new environmental technologies.
As outlined in the progress report, by using data gathered over time, Sam and his research team tested two competing hypotheses, one focused on the theory that a firm’s adoption of pollution prevention practices yields increased incentives for environmental research and development with the aim of reducing costs, thus leading to more environmental patents, while the second focused on a firm’s adoption of more pollution prevention practices as a source of redirecting resources away from environmental research and development toward short-lived environmental improvements, leading to fewer environmental patents.
Sam and his team found that the adoption of voluntary pollution practices does stimulate environmental research and development. However, his team found that mandatory pollution regulations have a greater impact over time than voluntary pollution practices – the estimated impact of mandatory pollution regulations is between ten and seventeen times stronger than that of voluntary adoption. As reported in the SEEDS report, the analysis therefore suggests that while the voluntary approach can produce significant environmental improvements by lowering the emissions of mostly unregulated pollutants, it is far less effective than mandatory regulations in enticing businesses to invest in environmental research that leads to the development of cleaner production technologies.
In May 2012, Sam and his team held a workshop at Ohio State thanks to a generous grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The workshop featured presentations about the determinants, effects, and effectiveness of voluntary pollution control initiatives in both developed and developing countries by US, European, and South American researchers in environmental policy-related disciplines. To see videos and presentations from the workshop please click here.
Sam is currently studying the Tox- Minus program, a program launched in 2007 as a partnership between the Ohio EPA and local businesses (leading generators of toxic emissions) with the goal of achieving meaningful reduction in toxic emissions within five years.
In profiling the research from AEDE faculty members Partridge, Kraybill and Southgate, along with their research partners from other Ohio State departments, Hoy and Lobao, the SEEDS progress report focused on an analysis of data gathered by the research team on employment, income, industry, county-level taxes and expenditures for counties nationwide. The research team was concerned with gathering land-use data to assist economic development policymakers in learning how to best strengthen rural and urban economies.
As noted in the SEEDS report, using the data collected, the research team created a national, cross-time database that merges nationwide county-level government survey data with a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) layer of economic, agricultural and land-use patterns. They then used the data to assess regional interactions across county governments and to assess why county governments give tax incentives and subsidies for economic development given their controversial nature. Their research was published in the journal Growth and Change in 2012.
The result was that the researchers can now offer policymakers and others a better understanding of how local governments compete with each other and how better cooperation can improve economic development outcomes. The next phase of the SEEDS funded research will include an analysis of the data to learn which US communities continued to grow during the recession and why, and what types of local policies helped to ensure their success.
To view the full SEEDS progress report please click here. To learn more about the SEEDS program, please visit the SEEDS website.
Home Page Image: AEDE Associate Professor Abdoul G. Sam (left), the cover of the yearly report of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) that profiles the research work of the SEEDS grant program winners, and AEDE Professor and Swank Chair in Rural-Urban Policy, Mark Partridge (right).  The work of Sam and Partridge was profiled in the OARDC SEEDS report.  Photo Credit: OARDC SEEDS program.
October 2, 2012