About me – Peter Söderbaum
I am today professor emeritus in ecological economics. My PhD about Positional Analysis is from 1973 and was presented at the Department of Business Management, Uppsala University. I have also been employed at the Departments of Economics, Uppsala University and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala. I stayed for 20 years at SLU before coming to Mälardalen University in 1994.
About ecological economics, my research focus
Ecological Economics can be described as 'economics for sustainable development'. Sustainable development is a challenge for both scholars in economics and business management. My position is that mainstream neoclassical economics is useful for some purposes but not enough to guide us towards sustainability. Neoclassical economics is specific not only in scientific terms but also in ideological terms. The neoclassical monopoly at university departments of economics with its ideological features is not compatible with normal ideas about democracy. Only pluralism with respect to theoretical perspectives can be accepted. I have published a large number of books, book chapters and articles and am a member of the editorial advisory board of Ecological Economics and the International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education.
Among theoretical perspectives in economics I am in favour of institutional theory in the spirit of Gunnar Myrdal and K. William Kapp where the political and ideological element is openly acknowledged and discussed. It is proposed that neoclassical Economic Man is replaced by a Political Economic Person as actor guided by her ideological orientation. The profit-maximizing firm of neoclassical economics is similarly replaced by a Political Economic Organization as actor guided by its ideological orientation or mission.
As part of my interest in paradigm issues, my research focuses on:
- institutional change processes
- approaches to decision-making
- actor studies
Sustainable development is about ideological and institutional change. It is therefore not realistic to avoid issues of values and ideology or to assume that present institutional arrangements are appropriate and need only be modified. But even institutional change that represents small steps towards a more sustainable development path should be encouraged. At the same time we should no longer avoid considering radical institutional change. As an example joint stock companies are defined in financial terms (monetary profits and shareholder value) while performance in relation to sustainability is a non-monetary matter.
Publications (in selection):
Söderbaum, Peter, 2000. Ecological Economics. A Political Economics Approach to Environment and Development. Earthscan, London.
Söderbaum, Peter, 2007. Towards Sustainability Economics: Principles and Values. Journal of Bioeconomics, Vol. 9, pp. 205-225.
Söderbaum, Peter, 2008. Understanding Sustainability Economics. Towards Pluralism in Economics. Earthscan, London.
Söderbaum, Peter, 2008. 10th Anniversary Focus: From mainstream 'environmental economics' to 'sustainability economics'. On the need for new thinking, Journal of Environmental Monitoring, Vol.10, pp. 1467-1475.
Söderbaum, Peter, 2009. Making Actors, Paradigms and Ideologies Visible in Governance for Sustainability, Sustainable Development, Vol. 17, pp. 70-81.
Söderbaum, Peter and Judy Brown, 2010. Democratizing economics. Pluralism as a path toward sustainability, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 1185 (Ecological Economics Reviews), pp. 179-195.
Söderbaum, Peter, 2012. Pluralism and Sustainable Development. International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education, Vol. 3, No 1, pp. 23-39.
Söderbaum, Peter, 2013. Ecological economics in relation to democracy, ideology and politics, Ecological Economics, Vol. 95, pp 221-225.
Söderbaum, Peter, 2014. The Role of Economics and Democracy in Institutional Change for Sustainability, Sustainability, Vol. 6, pp. 2755-2765.
Söderbaum, Peter, 2015. Varieties of ecological economics: Do we need a more radical version of ecological economics? Ecological Economics, Vol. 119, pp. 420-423.
Söderbaum, Peter, 2016. Economics, ideological orientation and democracy for sustainable development. World Economics Association Books (eBook),
Brown,J., Söderbaum, P., & Dereniowska, M., 2017. Positional Analysis for Sustainable Development. Reconsidering Policy, Economics and Accounting.(Routledge Studies in Ecological Economics 46). Routledge, London.