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My interests revolve around product differentiation and trade. These two areas are fascinating in the context of consumers' increasing demand for high-quality food products and the opening of trade occurring under the WTO agreement. My research agenda involves examining various aspects of two important trends in agri-food industries as they relate to market structure and performance: 1) the increase in concentration at various stages of the food industry, 2) the growing consumer demand for quality, taste, appearance, and ethical values of food products. The demand for more differentiated products has interesting economic ramifications because product differentiation is one source of firms’ market power. In other words, as products become more differentiated, firms obtain the ability to capture economic profit at the expense of consumers. Examples of my work include the examination of price discrimination when goods are differentiated by quality, the impact of trade reforms on the quality of products traded, and the examination of market power in the U.S. butter and margarine industry using brand level scanner data.
Volpe III, R.J. and N. Lavoie. “The Impact of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Grocery Prices in New England.” University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, Working Paper No. 2006-8, October 2006.
Lavoie, N., 2005. “Price Discrimination in the Context of Vertical Differentiation: An Application to Canadian Wheat Exports.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 87:835-854.
Lavoie, N., 2005. “Price Behavior in a Dynamic Oligopsony: Washington Processing Potatoes – A Comment.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 87: 796-801.
Lass, D.A., N. Lavoie, and T.R. Fetter. “Market Power in Direct Marketing of Fresh Produce: Community Supported Agriculture Farms.” University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, Working Paper No. 2005-2, January 2005.
Lavoie, N. and Q. Liu. “Pricing-to-Market: Price Discrimination or Product Differentiation?” University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, Working Paper No. 2004-11, December 2004.
Lavoie, N. “The Impact of Reforming Wheat Importing State-Trading Enterprises on the Quality of Wheat Imported.” University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, Working Paper No. 2003-12, December 2003.
Sexton, R.J. and N. Lavoie, 2001. “Food Processing and Distribution: An Industrial Organization Approach”, in: Gardner, B. and G.C. Rausser, eds. Handbook of Agricultural Economics, North-Holland, Amsterdam, p. 863-932.
Chalfant, J.A., J.S. James, N. Lavoie and R.J. Sexton, 2000. “Grading Error in the California Prune Industry.” California Agriculture, 54:66-71.
Chalfant, J.A., J.S. James, N. Lavoie and R.J. Sexton, 1999. “Asymmetric Grading Error and Adverse Selection: Lemons in the California Prune Industry,” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 24:57-79.
At the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Agricultural Economics Association (Long Beach, CA, July 23-26):
I was awarded an Honorable Mention for the Outstanding Journal Article for the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (2005): “Price Discrimination in the Context of Vertical Differentiation: An Application to Canadian Wheat Exports.”
My co-author, Dave McEvoy presented “The Effects of ITQ Management on Fishermen’s Welfare in the Presence of an Imperfectly Competitive Processing Sector.” The paper is also joint with Sylvia Brandt and Sven Anders.
- On September 9, 2005, I spoke on “Getting Started as Teacher, Scholar and UMass Citizen” for the Welcoming Program for New Faculty at the University of Massachusetts.
- I was a Lilly Teaching Fellow during the 2002-2003 academic year. The program helps establish the teaching careers of promising early-career faculty while they pursue the multiple responsibilities expected at a research university.
In the 2003 fall semester, I co-teach the graduate course Industrial Organization II in Resource Economics with Julie Caswell and Qihong Liu. This course develops advanced applications of industrial organization and strategic management theory to marketing issues in the U.S. food system including the agricultural commodity, food manufacturing, food distribution, and resource industries. It also focuses on government programs that regulate these industries.
In the spring, I teach Introduction to Resource Economics. In this large lecture course, I use various alternatives to lecturing to teach the principles of microeconomics. We study the formation of markets and prices. We examine how consumers and producers make economic decisions. We seek to understand how economic markets work. We learn what markets do well and what they do poorly, as well as what can be done to correct market failures. In the spring 2003, I introduced the Personal Response System (PRS) to this course.. This popular wireless device enhances active learning in class and allows students and myself to determine whether learning occurred and points to area where clarifications are necessary. The technology also provides immediate feedback in economic experiments involving all students.
In the spring, I also teach the graduate course Industrial Organization I in Resource Economics. In this course, we study the theory of industrial organization with empirical applications in agricultural and resource economics. Topics include market structure and performance, price discrimination, product differentiation, vertical control, cartel formation and sustainability, mergers, strategic behavior and firm organizations. Some of the applied topics include tradeable pollution emission permits, environmental quality, biotechnology, intellectual property rights, agricultural cooperatives, marketing boards, marketing orders, branding, and advertising.
In the past, I have also taught Price Theory, a course in our undergraduate program. This intermediate microeconomics course examines what is behind supply and demand curves, and how prices are determined under various market structures and competitive strategies.
Industrial Organization in Agricultural Economics Sites:
Other Sites of Interest: