Master/Bachelor Theses Topics/
Research Projects

Currently no new theses/projects can be supervised.

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Examples of previous, completed topics/projects:
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Assessing the impact of political and economic events on firms’ economic performance in the plant protection sector

Background: The EU plant protection sector comprises around 600 firms that generate yearly turnover of approximately €13 bn. Nevertheless, firms in the sector are under pressure due to social developments and political interventions (e.g. potential glyphosate ban) as well as intense competition within the dominant oligopoly of firms (Bayer, ChemChina, BASF, DowDupont) that is further increased by niche products entering the market (e.g. biological & mechanical alternatives or breeding of resistant species).

Aim of a master thesis is to identify the effect of glyphosate discussion (e.g. announcements of health effects by WHO), discussions on bans, lawsuits in the US, or M&A activity on firms’ economic performance. Methodologically these questions can be addressed by an event study which is a straightforward method to assess whether the aforementioned events affect firms’ stock index or commodity prices. Events of interest can either relate to a specific political intervention (e.g. new law or regulation) or extensive coverage in the media (e.g. negative news reports on health aspects of specific products). Trends in media coverage can be identified via the Nexis database that covers over 15.000 news sources as well as through google trends. Through an event study the economic impact of the specified events can be then quantified e.g. in terms of losses or increases of stock prices. It can also be evaluated in how far firms’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities can help to mitigate adverse effects of e.g. lawsuits.

References:
Böcker, T., Britz, W., Möhring, N., Finger, R. (2019). An economic and environmental assessment of a glyphosate ban for the example of maize production. European Review of Agricultural Economics. In Press.

Böcker, T., Britz, W., Finger, R. (2018). Modelling the effects of a glyphosate ban on weed management in silage maize production. Ecological Economics 145: 182–193.

Bonanno, A. et al. (2017). The Plant Protection Products (PPP) Sector in the European Union: A Special View on Herbicides. The European Journal of Development Research 29(3): 575-595.

Deák, Z., & Karali, B. (2014). Stock market reactions to environmental news in the food industry. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 46(2), 209-225.

Lamprinakis, L., & Fulton, M. (2011). Does acquisition of a cooperative generate profits for the buyer? The Dairyworld case. Agricultural Economics, 42, 89-100.

Pacicco, F, Vena, L., Venegoni, A.  (2018): Event study estimations using Stata: The estudy command. The Stata Journal 18(2): 461-476.

Ruckner et al. (2005). ESTIMATING THE STRUCTURE OF MARKET REACTION TO NEWS: INFORMATION EVENTS AND LUMBER FUTURES PRICES. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 87(2): 482-500.

Thomsen et al. (2001). Market Incentives for Safe Foods: An Examination of Shareholder Losses from Meat and Poultry Recalls American Journal of Agricultural Economics 82(3): 526-538

Zhou, H., & Yin, H. (2018). Stock market reactions to environmental disclosures: new evidence from China. Applied Economics Letters, 25(13), 910-913.

Finger, R. (2010). Stock price responses on the German suspension of genetically modified maize. Economics Bulletin 30(3): 2220-2229

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Event studies in the Agricultural and Food Sector

An event study is a straightforward method to assess whether specific events affect financial markets, firms’ stock index or commodity prices. Examples of events are: negative news reports; political decisions; mergers & acquisitions; food scandals such as product recalls or disease outbreaks. Through an event study the economic impact of these events can be quantified e.g. in terms of losses or increases of stock prices and other economic indices that reflect the performance of firms or markets. Students are free to focus on an event that they are interested in given that related data is available and assess in their thesis in how far this event has affected the economic indicator of interest.

If you are interested, please contact: Prof. Dr. Stefan Hirsch (stefan.hirsch@tum.de)

References:
Pacicco, F, Vena, L., Venegoni, A.  (2018): Event study estimations using Stata: The estudy command. The Stata Journal 18(2): 461-476.

Deák, Z., & Karali, B. (2014). Stock market reactions to environmental news in the food industry. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 46(2), 209-225.

Lamprinakis, L., & Fulton, M. (2011). Does acquisition of a cooperative generate profits for the buyer? The Dairyworld case. Agricultural Economics, 42, 89-100.

Ruckner et al. (2005). ESTIMATING THE STRUCTURE OF MARKET REACTION TO NEWS: INFORMATION EVENTS AND LUMBER FUTURES PRICES. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 87(2): 482-500.

Thomsen et al. (2001). Market Incentives for Safe Foods: An Examination of Shareholder Losses from Meat and Poultry Recalls American Journal of Agricultural Economics 82(3): 526-538

Zhou, H., & Yin, H. (2018). Stock market reactions to environmental disclosures: new evidence from China. Applied Economics Letters, 25(13), 910-913.

Assessing the impact of political and economic events on firms’ economic performance in the plant protection sector

Background: The EU plant protection sector comprises around 600 firms that generate yearly turnover of approximately €13 bn. Nevertheless, firms in the sector are under pressure due to social developments and political interventions (e.g. potential glyphosate ban) as well as intense competition within the dominant oligopoly of firms (Bayer, ChemChina, BASF, DowDupont) that is further increased by niche products entering the market (e.g. biological & mechanical alternatives or breeding of resistant species).

Aim of a master thesis is to identify the effect of glyphosate discussion (e.g. announcements of health effects by WHO), discussions on bans, lawsuits in the US, or M&A activity on firms’ economic performance. Methodologically these questions can be addressed by an event study which is a straightforward method to assess whether the aforementioned events affect firms’ stock index or commodity prices. Events of interest can either relate to a specific political intervention (e.g. new law or regulation) or extensive coverage in the media (e.g. negative news reports on health aspects of specific products). Trends in media coverage can be identified via the Nexis database that covers over 15.000 news sources as well as through google trends. Through an event study the economic impact of the specified events can be then quantified e.g. in terms of losses or increases of stock prices. It can also be evaluated in how far firms’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities can help to mitigate adverse effects of e.g. lawsuits.

References:
Böcker, T., Britz, W., Möhring, N., Finger, R. (2019). An economic and environmental assessment of a glyphosate ban for the example of maize production. European Review of Agricultural Economics. In Press.

Böcker, T., Britz, W., Finger, R. (2018). Modelling the effects of a glyphosate ban on weed management in silage maize production. Ecological Economics 145: 182–193.

Bonanno, A. et al. (2017). The Plant Protection Products (PPP) Sector in the European Union: A Special View on Herbicides. The European Journal of Development Research 29(3): 575-595.

Deák, Z., & Karali, B. (2014). Stock market reactions to environmental news in the food industry. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 46(2), 209-225.

Lamprinakis, L., & Fulton, M. (2011). Does acquisition of a cooperative generate profits for the buyer? The Dairyworld case. Agricultural Economics, 42, 89-100.

Pacicco, F, Vena, L., Venegoni, A.  (2018): Event study estimations using Stata: The estudy command. The Stata Journal 18(2): 461-476.

Ruckner et al. (2005). ESTIMATING THE STRUCTURE OF MARKET REACTION TO NEWS: INFORMATION EVENTS AND LUMBER FUTURES PRICES. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 87(2): 482-500.

Thomsen et al. (2001). Market Incentives for Safe Foods: An Examination of Shareholder Losses from Meat and Poultry Recalls American Journal of Agricultural Economics 82(3): 526-538

Zhou, H., & Yin, H. (2018). Stock market reactions to environmental disclosures: new evidence from China. Applied Economics Letters, 25(13), 910-913.

Finger, R. (2010). Stock price responses on the German suspension of genetically modified maize. Economics Bulletin 30(3): 2220-2229

_______________________________________________________________________________

Event studies in the Agricultural and Food Sector

An event study is a straightforward method to assess whether specific events affect financial markets, firms’ stock index or commodity prices. Examples of events are: negative news reports; political decisions; mergers & acquisitions; food scandals such as product recalls or disease outbreaks. Through an event study the economic impact of these events can be quantified e.g. in terms of losses or increases of stock prices and other economic indices that reflect the performance of firms or markets. Students are free to focus on an event that they are interested in given that related data is available and assess in their thesis in how far this event has affected the economic indicator of interest.

If you are interested, please contact: Prof. Dr. Stefan Hirsch (stefan.hirsch@tum.de)

References:
Pacicco, F, Vena, L., Venegoni, A.  (2018): Event study estimations using Stata: The estudy command. The Stata Journal 18(2): 461-476.

Deák, Z., & Karali, B. (2014). Stock market reactions to environmental news in the food industry. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 46(2), 209-225.

Lamprinakis, L., & Fulton, M. (2011). Does acquisition of a cooperative generate profits for the buyer? The Dairyworld case. Agricultural Economics, 42, 89-100.

Ruckner et al. (2005). ESTIMATING THE STRUCTURE OF MARKET REACTION TO NEWS: INFORMATION EVENTS AND LUMBER FUTURES PRICES. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 87(2): 482-500.

Thomsen et al. (2001). Market Incentives for Safe Foods: An Examination of Shareholder Losses from Meat and Poultry Recalls American Journal of Agricultural Economics 82(3): 526-538

Zhou, H., & Yin, H. (2018). Stock market reactions to environmental disclosures: new evidence from China. Applied Economics Letters, 25(13), 910-913.

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Digitalisation in the agriculture: A summary of challenges, opportunities and risks

Agriculture is undergoing a big change. Smart farming is becoming more and more relevant to farmers. Livestock farmers can check the milk production of each cow, crop farmers can optimize their input use to an efficient level and in the future the harvester might harvest autonomous.

This raises the question which potential does the digitalisation has for agriculture in Germany and on the other side, which risks does the digitalisation imply? The scope of the bachelor thesis is it to provide a holistic overview of the challenges, opportunities and risks of agriculture and the digitalisation.

Literature:
Floreano D, Wood RJ (2015) Science, technology and the future of small autonomous drones. Nature 521:460–466.

Walter, A., Finger, R., Huber, R., & Buchmann, N. (2017). Opinion: Smart farming is key to developing sustainable agriculture. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences114(24), 6148-6150.

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Relevance of meat substitutes in Germany

The consumption of meat products in Western societies exceeds not only recommended amounts but causes negative impacts on the environment and human health (Tilman and Clark 2014; Godfray et al. 2018). To face those issues and to face ethical concerns from livestock-farming some consumers switched to meat substitutes (Weinrich 2018). However, the share of meat substitutes compared to normal meat products is still low (Apostolidis and McLeay 2016). This raises the question, what determines the adoption of meat substitutes?

The scope of the thesis would it be to determine the factors influencing the behaviour of consumers to purchase or not to purchase meat substitutes. The master thesis shall develop and use a choice experiment applying the theory of planned behaviour.

Literature
Apostolidis, C., and F. McLeay (2016): Should we stop meating like this? Reducing meat consumption through substitution. In: Food Policy 65: 74-89

Godfray, H. C. J., P. Aveyard, T. Garnett, J. W. Hall, T. J. Key, J. Lorimer, R. T. Pierrehumbert, P. Scarborough, M. Springmann, and S. A. Jebb (2018): Meat consumption, health, and the environment. In: Science (New York, N.Y.) 361 (6399)

Tilman, D., and M. Clark (2014): Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health. In: Nature 515 (7528): 518-522

Weinrich, R. (2018): Cross-Cultural Comparison between German, French and Dutch Consumer Preferences for Meat Substitutes. In: Sustainability 10 (6): 181

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Dynamics in the meat industry

The meat processing industry is regularly in the focus of the public. On the one side, there are growing concerns regarding the external effects of meat production and there are scandals, such as the horse meat scandal, which are lowering the trust in the industry. The consequences were a growing demand for ethically/organically produced meat and additionally for meat substitutes. These experienced large growth rates in sales until 2015 which caused big dynamics on the meat market. However, since 2015 the innovation rate of meat substitutes is decreasing, and large companies declared to leave the market. This raises the question, what are the reasons behind this? Were the consumers not willing to substitute the meat products by meat substitutes and thereby, to forego on the taste of meat?

The scope of the Bachelor Thesis would be to search for the barriers for the consumers to adopt meat substitutes and why these could not compete in large scale with traditional meat products. The research questions shall be answered with a broad literature review.

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Market power in the agricultural and food economy

Market power in the agricultural and food economy is an intensively discussed topic in public as well as in scientific literature. Oftentimes, the retail sector is assumed to possess power towards their suppliers which is connected to increasing concentration on the retail side. However, the issue is also relevant on upstream stages of the supply chain. For instance, farmers form producer organizations to strenghten their bargaining position when negotiating supply agreements with their customers.

Mostly, exercising market power leads either to increased output prices or to decreased input prices compared to perfect competition. There are different methods to measure price deviations from the model of perfect competition which have different underlying theories and assumptions. The thesis shall give a comparative overview on different models for the measurement of market power. The focus lies on the assumptions and data requirements including the resulting advantages and disadvantages of the respective methods.

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Drivers of firm performance in the food sector

  • Using an extensive firm-level database (AMADEUS) a large array of questions related to the drivers of firm performance in the food and agribusiness sector can be addressed. Examples are the impact of board diversity on firm profits. I.e. does it have an impact if firm leadership is more diverse with respect to nationality, gender or age? What is the impact of naming a firm by its owner on profitability?   

Market power in the food value chain

Possible research questions:

  • At which stages does market power occur (farm, industry, retail)
    towards the up- and downstream sectors
  • Which subsectors are affected (e.g. meat, dairy,…)
  • Differences across EU countries
  • Which methods are used to measure market power
  • For master thesis: conduct own empirical analysis of market power 

 

The impact of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on firm performance

Possible research questions:

The empirical literature offers a wide array of results related to the impact of CSR activities on firm performance. Aim is to systematically summarize this literature used meta-regressions. This will allow to determine the influence of firm types, countries, time period, estimation strategy on the resulting CSR-profit relationship

Efficiency of firms in the agricultural and food sector

Possible research questions:

  • How is efficiency measured empirically and theoretically?
  • Differences across subsectors (meat, dairy, beverage,…)
  • Differences across countries, time, etc.
  • What are drivers of efficiency?
  • For master thesis: conduct own empirical analysis of efficiency

Flexibility of firms in the food industry

Conducting an empirical analysis of firm flexibility (i.e. the ability of firms to adapt the production strategy to external influences) by applying an already existing econometric model to a food industry subsector (e.g.  beverage, meat)

The Influence of the 2008/2009 Financial Crisis on the Performance of Food and Agribusiness Firms

Research questions:

  • Determination of the influence of the 08/09 financial crisis on different measures of performance (profits, efficiency, innovation, etc.) in the food and agribusiness sector.
  • Determining the crises impact on food demand in specific subcategories such as meat, dairy, beverages, etc.

 

The impact of R&D and innovation on the performance of food industry firms

Research questions:

  • Determining the special role of R&D and Innovations on firm performance in the food sector
  • What is the impact of R&D and new product innovation on the profitability/efficiency of firms in the food sector?
  • The role of uncertainty on investment in R&D and innovation

 

Retail Price Discrimination

Research questions:

  • Summarizing evidence of price discrimination in the food and retail sector
  • How can price discrimination be measured?
  • What are theoretical models on price discrimination?
  •  Implications for consumers

The Role of Big Data in Agricultural Economics Research

Research questions:

  • Where is Big Data used in Agricultural Economics Research (which topics, research questions, etc. are addressed?)
  • What are possible fields of application?
  • What data is available and how can it be used?
  • Differences to other sectors?

The Influence of food related incidences and scandals

Research questions:

  • Evaluating economic impacts of incidents such as the Foot-and-Mouth disease outbreak, the E-coli outbreak, dioxin scandal, etc.