Research Fields and Master/PhD studies
Our research focuses on both methodological aspects of productive efficiency measurement and applications of the tools of productivity and efficiency analysis to several sectors of interest including agriculture, banking, energy, transportation, education, postal service, sport, and the health system. The perspective of these studies is mainly, though not exclusively, regional and national.
The research studies we have carried out to date have highlighted a large potential for efficiency gains in both the private and public sectors. This implies in turn that there is ample scope for improvements in competitiveness and for cost savings, so that the identification of such potential efficiency gains is even more relevant in light of the current economic situation. Efficiency and productivity analyses provide useful information for managers and administrators in both the private and public sectors, and the tools from this literature are increasingly used by policymakers to identify areas where economic efficiency can be improved and to evaluate the effects on efficiency of different public policies.
In what follows, we provide a brief overview of our main research fields to date.
The methodically-oriented research carried out includes latent class models, modeling technical, allocative and environmental efficiency, modeling determinants of firms’ efficiency, decomposition of total productivity growth, application of the stochastic frontier approach to industrial organization issues (e.g. market power or barriers to entry), and application of supervised variable aggregation techniques to production economics. Group members have worked together with top researchers in econometrics such us Peter Schmidt (Michigan State University), William Greene (New York State University), Knox Lovell (University of Queensland) and Subal Kumbhakar (State University of New York at Binghamton).
Our research in agricultural economics has focused mainly on dairy farms and milk production, addressing problems faced by farmers, consumers and decision makers. This research area embraces a variety of topics such as costs of production; the measurement of farms’ productive efficiency; the relative performance of intensive and extensive daily farms; the effects of land fragmentation on milk production; production risk management; and the relationship between managerial practices and environmental efficiency. Projects in this area have been financed by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Research and the Asturian Regional Government. Part of our work in this field has been carried out in collaboration with researchers from other research institutions and universities such as the University of Valencia or Wageningen University (Netherlands).
This research field deals with the supply, demand and allocation of natural resources, covering different structural aspects of natural resource management and sustainability. Our studies have centred primarily on water demand, the economic management of water supply, and regulatory schemes and pricing policies designed to deal with water scarcity episodes. Several studies have also been carried out on the economic performance of fisheries and the economic exploitation of minerals (e.g., coal) in Spain. Our members have collaborated with researchers from prestigious research institutions and foreign universities such as LERNA-INRA at the Toulouse School of Economics.
The Group has recently initiated several studies on energy economics together with top researchers in this field such as Michael Pollitt (University of Cambridge, UK), Tooraj Jamasb (University of Durham), and Massimo Filippini (Universitá della Svizzera Italiana). This research focuses primarily on the issue of how to design more effective incentive mechanisms for electricity network firms to improve production efficiency in both electricity distribution and transmission. We have carried out research on how to control for the effect of environmental factors on the performance of firms and the achievement of optimal quality levels. Previous and ongoing work examines, from both theoretical and empirical perspectives, individual and aggregate demand for energy, the extent of market power in the wholesale electricity generating industry, the concept of energy efficiency, and policies for controlling emissions. In our research we have used data from several countries, including Spain, the UK, Norway and the USA. In early 2015, the group began collaborating with the Cluster of Energy, Environment and Climate Change developed by the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Oviedo.
Our research in Health Economics covers several topics such as the economic evaluation of private and public hospitals, the effect of excess capital on public hospital cost, the production of health services under demand uncertainty, and the measurement of service quality in hospitals. Given the predominance of the public sector in the Spanish health system, several studies have been devoted to the possible influence on economic efficiency of expense preference behavior on the part of hospital administrators and the impact of incentive programs designed to increase efficiency. We have also analyzed the complementarities between Primary Care and Hospital services.
This research field embraces several areas, such as ports and maritime transportation, railways, road haulage transport and air transportation. Our research in this field has addressed a variety of topics such as the determinants of the demand for maritime imports and exports, the economic analysis of Spanish ports’ efficiency, the effect of local ports on regional production, the effect of the regulation on European railways’ performance, technical efficiency and liberalization in the international air transport, and the excess capacity and allocative inefficiency of the Spanish public railways. Our collaborators in this field include researchers of University of Las Palmas de Gran Canarias and the University of Cantabria. Moreover, our research is used in courses of the Master in Transport and Logistics Management of the Department of Economics of the University of Oviedo and the Master in Economics: Instruments of Economic Analysis that the department offers together with the University of Cantabria and the University of the Basque Country.
Our work in this field is aimed at guiding policy makers in designing mechanisms to optimize the allocation of public resources to primary and secondary schools and to balance equity and efficiency in the Spanish educational system. It covers different structural aspects of the Spanish educational system such as the relative performance of private and public high schools, the effect of external (i.e. family and socioeconomic) factors on school performance, the identification of managerial versus program efficiencies, or the incorporation of non-cognitive outputs in a multidimensional evaluation of educational production. We have recently extended our research to analyze the factors valued by people with doctoral education when choosing their professional careers, and in particular whether the current doctoral education programs satisfy labour market needs.
The Department of Economics provides postgraduate studies in applied economics. Our research is partly covered in advanced courses of our Master in Economics: Instruments of Economic Analysis, in which several of our researchers teach. In particular, our teaching activities in several subjects cover the economic tools used for theoretical and empirical analysis of firms’ performance. Click here to see the flyer of the next course.
Doing a PhD at our Department involves specializing, normally in one of our traditional research fields. Currently, we have about five PhD students.
The PhD programme takes four years, ending with a doctoral degree and provides graduates with an excellent preparation for a future academic career or a career in industry or public service.
If you are interested in our postgraduate studies, please contact, as appropriate, Ana Rodríguez Alvarez (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Juan Francisco Canal (email@example.com), who are respectively the Master's and PhD Programme Coordinators at the University of Oviedo.