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Using mixed methods research in environmental economics: The case of conservation easements


Economic research typically uses qualitative methods to identify variables for a pre-specified economic model and to refine language for a survey instrument. This paper illustrates how a group of research economists incorporated ethnographic principles from the field of sociology to create a mixed methods research model for conservation easement preferences and rural agricultural land use. Utilising ethnographic data coding techniques provided more than survey language – the quantitative economic model was also adapted to include a factor analysis of a community‟s „sense of place‟. The project was expanded following the qualitative data collection to include an entirely new source of literature in place attachment. Study findings suggest that ethnographic data recording may be particularly useful to environmental economists, when priors are otherwise unavailable. The paper consolidates four tools from the ethnographic literature (logging, memo-ing, data coding, and theme finding) that can be used in economics research, and which may be particularly effective for the study of environmental values.

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