David E. Ervin

Portland State University
Economics and Environmental Management

Department of Economics, 241M Cramer Hall, Portland State University
1721 S.W. Broadway
Portland, OR

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My research program includes three policy-related areas: (1) voluntary business environmental management; (2) research and technology development, including university-industry relationships, for the sustainable use of genetically engineered crops, and; (3) ecosystem service valuation and pricing for sustainable urban development. Current research projects in these areas include investigations of motivations and metrics for sustainable business management, participatory R&D models to foster the development of genetically engineered crops that foster more sustainable agricultural systems, and policy mechanisms for placing scarcity values on nonmarket ecosystem services supporting rapidly urbanizing regions. I serve as the lead principal investigator of a NSF Integrative Graduate Education, Research and Training program "Ecosystem Services for Urbanizing Regions." I chaired the National Research Council's Committee "Impact of Biotechnology on Farm Sustainability in the United States" during 2008-2010.

Glenna, L., J. Tooker, R. Welsh, and D. Ervin. 2015. “Intellectual Property, Scientific Independence, and the Efficacy and Environmental Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops." Rural Sociology.
Abstract: Neoliberalism is the political ideology behind efforts to commercialize university science. The development of genetically engineered (GE) crops has facilitated the commercialization process becauseGEcrops generally have more restrictive intellectual property protections than conventional crops. Those restrictions have led some to question whether long-term university research and innovations are being compromised to protect short-term intellectual property interests. This concern is evident in two letters submitted by public-sector entomologists in February 2009 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The letters asserted that scientists are prohibited from conducting fully independent research on the efficacy and environmental impact of GE crops. In response to the letter, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) negotiated an agreement between university scientists and seed companies to protect industry property rights while enabling university scientists to conduct research with more independence. Through a survey of public- and private-sector entomologists who are members of two regional entomologist research groups, we document scientists’ perspectives on the adequacy of the ASTA agreement and whether those scientists have experienced limitations on their research projects involving efficacy and environmental impacts. Our findings show that limitations exist and that certain forms of public knowledge about crops are likely being compromised. These findings have implications for the legitimacy of current risk management institutions, as well as for future technological breakthroughs and innovations.
DOI: 10.1111/ruso.12062
D. Ervin, J. Wu, M. Khanna, C. Jones and T. Wirkala. 2013. “Motivations and Barriers to Corporate Environmental Management” Business Strategy and the Environment, September 22 (6):390-409.
Abstract: This paper integrates two conceptual frameworks, utility maximization and institutional theory, to analyze voluntary corporate environmental management. The utility maximization or economic approach centers on motivations to decrease cost, increase revenue and improve manager utility. Institutional theory emphasizes how external pressures from market and non-market constituents shape the firm’s environmental efforts. We view the two frameworks as complementary and postulate a model that includes both types of influences. Survey data from six major industries consisting of a diverse set of facilities are used to estimate the effects of economic and institutional factors on a facility’s use of environmental practices and pollution prevention activities. Our results support the hypothesized model, and show that cost barriers, management attitudes toward environmental stewardship, company ownership and external institutional forces, including competitiveness, investor and regulatory pressures, all affect a facility’s environmental practices and pollution prevention activities. Findings suggest that a multifaceted policy strategy is needed to advance corporate environmental management across diverse firms.
Buccola, S., D. Ervin, and H. Yang. 2009 "Research Choice and Finance in University Bioscience." Southern Economic Journal 75 (4):1238-1255.
Khanna, M., P. Koss, C. Jones and D. Ervin. 2007. "Motivations for Voluntary Environmental Management." Policy Studies Journal 35 (4):751-772.
Ervin, D., L. Glenna, and R. Jussaume. 2010. "Are Biotechnology and Sustainable Agriculture Compatible?" Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems (26).

Substantive Focus:
Environmental Policy PRIMARY
Science and Technology Policy SECONDARY

Theoretical Focus:
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation SECONDARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY