Spiro Stefanou

Professor and Chair of Food and Resource Economics

Prof. Stefanou's research interests focus on productivity analysis, innovation and efficiency. He has applied these interest to the agricultural and food manufacturing sectors in the U.S. and Europe.   

His research activities revolve around how firms make decisions when current decisions impact future production possibilities.  How firms choose to adopt effective technologies and their capabilities to extract the maximum potential from these technologies is a key feature of these frameworks. Investment and innovation patterns, firm learning, and capacity utilization are key features of these investigations.  The policy stories associated with the dynamic capabilities and productivity have wide interest since growth can come from firms wasting fewer resources or adapting their size to extract the full potential of technologies in place, and/or firms looking to push the technological envelope.

Prior to arriving in Gainesville in January 2015, he was Professor of Agricultural Economics at Penn State University since 1983 and currently holds a part-time appointment as Professor in the Business Economics Group at Wageningen University (Netherlands). 

He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and was a Marie Curie Senior Fellow at the University of Crete (Rethymnon, Greece), Mansholt Senior Fellow at Wageningen University (Netherlands), and Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute (Florence, Italy).  He has been a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies (Vienna, Austria), and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute (at Chania).  Dr. Stefanou has served on the editorial boards of six national and international journals.  He is presently the Managing Editor of Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy in addition to being past editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.  He has been interviewed and quoted by local, national and international news media, including the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Reuters, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), CBS News Sunday Morning, NBC Nightly News, Dan Rather Reports and Marketplace.



My research activities will continue to address the themes of competitiveness and growth, and the related policy implications.

With the theory of the decision making under adjustment using the dynamic directional distance function technology and extensions to productivity measurement established, the first direction is addressing empirical applications of dynamic decision making and their extensions are being explored. For the case of productivity growth, these approaches are known as the dynamic case of the Luenberger productivity growth indicators.   Applications to Spanish industries are explored so far, with more applications and theoretical extensions planned for the US food manufacturing is underway.

The second direction is in an early stage which involves the measuring the contribution firm Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) activities on firm value.  The conceptual framework is being developed in collaboration with an AEREC doctoral candidate. The notion is that the firm produces two types of outputs:  marketable (desired) outputs and undesirable outputs.  To combat these undesirable outputs, the firm can produce a third type of output, intended to mitigate the impact of the undesirable outputs. To complicate matters, some of the undesirable outputs are known and observable, other may be uncertain.  At the same time, some of the mitigating outputs can directly counter the undesirable outputs, but others may not.  Our plan is to work in conjunction with Hershey and related firms as well as the new industry watchdog group overseeing CSR interests.  The idea is to use the directional distance function approach to identify firm value and develop ranking measures of how well a firm is performing.  In particular, the gains of engaging in CSR compared to the costs of not undertaking CSR activities will be imputed. 

The third direction is to continue work assessing the industry and national-level effects of macroeconomic  uncertainty, market volatility and exposure to risk,  agricultural policies, and other market phenomena on agriculture requires an ability to link the effects of such forces on individual farmers and farm households to industry-level measures of the farming sector.  It is these aggregate representations that are the basis of policy development.  There are two drivers of this direction involve a) modeling uncertainty and its impact on farm performance and growth and b) modeling irreversibilities in gross investment arising from uncertainty can lead to non-smooth capital/quasi-fixed factor accumulation patterns, which can impact the supply and input response behavior.   

Spiro E. Stefanou, Professor and Chair of Food and Resource Economics