Research With Impact

Miguel I. Gómez

Associate professor, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

The economics and ecology of shade-grown coffee: a model to incentivize shade and bird conservation, Ecological Economics, 159, May 2019

Summary: The cultivation of shade-grown coffee is a production system widely regarded as environmentally sustainable and useful for biodiversity conservation. In this method, the crop is grown under a forest-like canopy of trees, enhancing pest control from birds; however, the process produces lower coffee yields. Gómez et al study this tradeoff here, along with the economic incentives required for smallholders (people managing agricultural holdings smaller than farms) to adopt shade practices rather than conventional systems, in which coffee is grown in sunnier settings. Formulating a dynamic optimization problem, the authors show that smallholders have incentives to allocate more land to shade-grown coffee under the appropriate market conditions.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions of Amazon hydropower with strategic dam planning, Nature Communications, 10, 1, September 2019

Summary: Hundreds of dams have been proposed throughout the Amazon basin, one of the world’s largest untapped hydropower frontiers. While hydropower is a potentially clean source of renewable energy, some projects produce high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit electricity generated (carbon intensity). Here the authors show how carbon intensities of proposed Amazon upland dams are often comparable with solar and wind energy, whereas some lowland dams may exceed carbon intensities of fossil-fuel power plants. Based on 158 existing and 351 proposed dams, they present a multi-objective optimization framework showing that low-carbon expansion of Amazon hydropower relies on strategic planning, which is generally linked to placing dams in higher elevations and smaller streams. Ultimately, basin-scale dam planning that considers GHG emissions along with social and ecological externalities will be decisive for sustainable energy development where new hydropower is contemplated.

Carla Gomes

Professor of Computer Science, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Christopher Marquis

Samuel SC Johnson Professor in Sustainable Global Enterprise, Professor of Management and Organizations, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Better Business: How the B Corp Movement Is Remaking Capitalism, Yale University Press, 2020 (Order Here)

Summary: Informed by Chris Marquis’ decade-plus of research on B Corps and animated by interviews with the movement’s founders and leading figures, Better Business tells the story of the rise of the B Corporation, a new corporate structure whose companies commit to putting social benefits and environmental stewardship on equal footing with financial shareholders. Marquis not only explores the rapid growth of global companies choosing to certify as B Corps, but also how B Lab’s systems and processes create more resilient and sustainable stakeholder-focused economic systems.

Better Business is the book to read if you want to put values and purpose at the center of your company. It’s an inspiring book with great insights to share.”

– Jerry Greenfield, co-founder, Ben & Jerry’s