Discussion Paper
No. 2015-52 | 2015.07.16
Aurora A.C. Teixeira and Manuela Castro e Silva
Relational Environment and Intellectual Roots of ‘Ecological Economics’: An Orthodox or Heterodox Field of Research?


The way the fields are delineated has been the Achilles' heel of studies analyzing the status and evolution of given scientific areas. Based on van den Besselaar and Leydesdorff’s (Mapping change in scientific specialities; a scientometric reconstruction of the development of artificial intelligence, 1996) contribution, the authors propose a systematic and objective method for delineating the field of ecological economics assuming that aggregated journal-journal citation relations is an appropriate indicator for the disciplinary organization of the sciences. They found that the relational scientific backbone of ecological economics comprises 7 main journals: American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Ecological Economics, Environment and Development Economics, Environmental and Resources Economics, Land Economics, Land Use Policy, and Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. From the 3727 articles published between 2005 and 2010 in the ecological economics field, and the corresponding 142 thousand citations two main outcomes emerged: 1) the intellectual frame of reference is overwhelmed by economists and environmental and resources economists with (renowned) ecological economists relatively underrepresented; 2) the building of an integrative knowledge domain is not apparent: on the one hand, ecological economics is seen to be an ‘unbound’ heterodox and multidisciplinary field, but on the other hand, and somewhat awkwardly, it is (still) heavily ‘bound’ by quantitative mainstream/orthodox methodologies.

JEL Classification:

C18, C8, Y10, Q57

Cite As

Aurora A.C. Teixeira and Manuela Castro e Silva (2015). Relational Environment and Intellectual Roots of ‘Ecological Economics’: An Orthodox or Heterodox Field of Research? Economics Discussion Papers, No 2015-52, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2015-52

Comments and Questions

Anonymous - Invited comment
July 27, 2015 - 09:55
There is a similar issue here as in Hoepner et al.'s analysis which was criticized by Clive Spash. I think the authors have managed to identify the field of environmental economics rather than a specific ecological economics field. Therefore, this field that they identify is dominated by economists and by mainstream economics methods and topics. If they repeated the analysis starting with JEEM, would they get a similar set of journals? For example: "The evidence relating to the author Robert Costanza (Portland State University, USA) is quite puzzling. Despite being a highly influential ecological economist, ranking 1st in the overalltop-50, having contributed to theory-building in the field of ‘ecological economics’, particularly by promoting the field as a sustainability and biodiversity science (Solomon,2007), he only appears in the top-50 of EE and is modestly ranked in all the other journals." "Only ecologist Robert Costanza (Portland State University,USA) and economist Sir Partha Dasgupta (University of Cambridge, UK), figure as ecological economists." This suggests that the other journals aren't part of the field of ecological economics. "two distinct groups, one of 5 journals (JEEM, ERE, AJAE, EDE, LE), with JEEM, ERE, AJAE being relatively similar in terms of citation sources, and the other consisting of EE and LUP, which are quite distinct in terms of source citing patterns," Yes, a lot of what is in the journal Ecological Economics is really mainstream environmental economics but the journal is distinct from these other journals. Other issues: Table 2 - It's not so surprising that journals with more distinct authors have a smaller percentage of citations from the top 50 authors Similar issues in Table 6.

Anonymous - Invited Reader Comment
August 28, 2015 - 09:46
See attached file

Anonymous - Invited Reader Comment
September 01, 2015 - 10:57
Comments on the paper “Relational Environment and Intellectual Roots of ‘Ecological Economics’: An Orthodox or Heterodox Field of Research?” has been submitted by Aurora A.C. Teixeira and Manuela Castro e Silva. I found the empirical results concerning Ecological Economics useful and worth publishing. However, the present version in form of a discussion paper is much too long compared with the results achieved.