Shanshan ZhangShanshan nailing specialises in production theory and applied econometrics. Her thesis “Industrial firm performance and the role of climate policy“ focuses on energy efficiency, energy and climate policy and also corporate strategic management. Her defence will take place on the 27th May.

Energy is vital to the economy, but the consequences of its use are also potentially harmful for the environment. One solution to keep the economy running while being environmentally friendly is improvement of energy efficiency. It could be an affordable choice for reducing energy consumption and mitigation. Thus, it is interesting to analyse the impacts of energy efficiency determinants, and to investigate whether energy efficiency improvements would reduce environmental impacts as well as foster productivity growth. Read Shanshans thesis: Energy efficiency and firm performance 

This thesis attempts to find answers to that question through studies on Swedish industrial firms. The opening chapter provides a measurement of energy efficiency and, evaluates impacts of its determinants. Furthermore, the study takes a look at the bigger picture and explores causal relationships between environmental investment and three dimensions of firm performance - productivity, energy efficiency and environmental performance in a dynamic framework. Main results show that there is a considerable potential to improving the energy efficiency in Swedish industrial firms. Differences in energy efficiency across firms mainly depend on firm size and, energy intensive sectors seem to maintain higher energy efficiency. Climate and energy policies, the EU ETS and Swedish carbon and energy tax, had moderate impacts on energy efficiency. Increasing energy efficiency is found to be positively associated with productivity growth and can favour environmental performance improvement. Environmental investment could boost productivity if channelled via energy efficiency improvements.

Main policy implications derived from the results show that the EU ETS permit price was probably too low to create an incentive to improve the energy efficiency. Another policy implication is that, in the short term, it is challenging to accomplish the decoupling between productivity growth and carbon emissions mitigation. Last but not the least, from a management perspective, managerial strategy should emphasise promoting energy efficiency if the ultimate goal is to earn profits as well as alleviate environmental burdens.

Shanshan would very much like to remain within academia but finds the private sector intriguing as well, very much due to her specialized area: production theory. She thinks that CERE is a nice learning environment in both academic and non-academic premises. Most importantly she says that there are excellent researchers at CERE who are also humble and, she wishes to be someone like that one day. She describes the city of Umeå as a peaceful and cosy place.

Read more about our PhD:s upcoming dissertations:

What is the value of marine environmental improvements? – Katarina Östberg