Pablo Mac Clay

Research themes
  • Renewable energy
  • Sustainable use of natural resources
  • New Technologies
  • Innovation and science policy
Research countries
  • Argentina
Research projects

Transformation and Sustainability Governance in South American Bioeconomies (SABio) is an interdisciplinary research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). It examines key aspects of bioeconomy development and governance in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, combining approaches from agricultural economics and political sciences to deliver evidence-based policy recommendations to foster sustainable and equitable bio-based transformations. The project is composed of two research groups led by the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn and by the University of Münster and counts with the support of local scientific partners in the three focal countries.

Additional Information:

Master of Business Administration, Agribusiness. Universidad Austral (UA), School of Business Sciences, Rosario.

Bachelor of Science, Economics. Universidad Nacional de Rosario (UNR), School of Economics and Statistics. 


Economics / Agribusiness

Funding institutions

German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)

Thesis title

Essays on the nexus between technological change, policies, and value chain governance for a transition towards a low-carbon economy

Thesis abstract

Technological change is essential to reconciling economic growth with environmental conservation. A transition toward an environmentally sustainable economic system requires new production techniques that improve land use efficiency, increase yields, reduce chemical input applications, prioritize low-carbon energy sources, and integrate new (non-fossil) raw materials. However, even when technical change promises to safeguard environmental sustainability, it is not a sufficient condition to reach inclusive growth since it is non-neutral from a social perspective. Balancing multiple goals to ensure a just transition requires consistency between governing institutions and technological advances, which is a two-way relationship: some governance schemes may be more conducive to fostering technical change, whereas new governance patterns and institutions emerge in response to innovations. This Ph.D. dissertation explores the nexus between technical change, policies, and value chain governance from different points of view in three separate chapters, each focusing on a different technology set: bio-based technologies, technological innovations in agri-food systems, and renewable energy.

In the first chapter, I explore from a conceptual perspective the nexus between organizational characteristics of bio-based value chains and technological innovations in the transition to a bioeconomy. Moving away from the fossil-based production paradigm into a bio-based economy that creates economic value added with minimum environmental impacts requires substantial investments in technological innovations. These innovations will likely affect how value chains are structured and which actors benefit from this transformation. Accelerated bioeconomy innovation is associated with shorter and more vertically coordinated value chains, a leading role by dominant firms, and higher levels of cooperation among firms with core research capabilities. These organizational features entail welfare effects for value chain actors, leading to potential trade-offs between greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions mitigation and social inclusion.

In the second chapter, I discuss the entrepreneurial landscape of innovations that promise to revolutionize agri-food systems, covering the entire value chain from farming inputs to last-mile delivery. Using Crunchbase as the primary data source and applying machine learning for natural language processing, the purpose of this chapter is twofold: first, identify which technologies have been receiving the most support from investors, and second, analyze the corporate strategies of the largest agri-food multinational companies regarding their investments in new technologies. The results for the first goal show an imbalanced scene in which downstream technologies capture most investors’ interest. As for the second goal, three trends of investments by dominant agri-food firms are identified: upgrading strategies to improve their core activities, defensive strategies to control technologies that compete with their business, and corporate portfolio strategies to seize profit opportunities.

Given that the adoption of many clean technologies is still low in many regions of the world, in the third chapter, I delve into the role of policy design in fostering technology adoption to reach low-carbon production systems. For this purpose, I focus specifically on studying how institutional quality and macroeconomic instability mediate the effects of auctions in promoting investments in renewable energy technologies. The analysis is built upon a differences-in-differences analysis considering staggered treatment adoption. Findings show that auctions positively affect RE capacity, but average treatment effects are higher for countries with better business environments. Thus, caution is needed in adopting this instrument, especially in countries exposed to macroeconomic or institutional instability. At the same time, dynamic treatment effects suggest that the policy needs time to show results.

Based on the findings in this study, policymakers should account for the fact that the surrounding governing institutions condition the effects of technical change over different sustainability dimensions. While synergies between economic and social dimensions are more evident, balancing these two dimensions and environmental goals is not always straightforward and requires fine-tuning in policy design. From the perspective of business managers and entrepreneurs, it is essential to acknowledge that new value chains will emerge, and the traditional ones will reconfigure, opening new business opportunities in which sustainability aspects are at the core of the strategy.

Advisor at ZEF

Prof. Dr. Jan Börner

Dr. Jorge Sellare


Deciancio, M and Mac Clay, P..  2023.  The Bioeconomy in Argentina: lessons for its development and sustainability..  Further Information
Mac Clay, P. Börner, J. Sellare, J..  2023.  Institutional and macroeconomic stability mediate the effect of auctions on renewable energy capacity..  Energy Policy, 180, 113685   . (Open Access)   Further Information


Mac Clay, P. and Sellare, J..  2022.  Value chain transformations in the transition to a sustainable bioeconomy..
Mac Clay, P., Accursi, F. M., and Harmath, P..  2022.  Surviving as an Argentine Farmer: Factors that Influence Risk Management Strategies..  International Journal on Food System Dynamics, 13(4)   : 425-439   . (Open Access)  


Mac Clay, Pablo; Accursi, Federico and Feeney, Roberto.  2020.  Risk attitudes between Argentine farmers: what determines willingness to take risks?.  International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management (IJRAM), 23 (3/4)   : 255-273   . Further Information
Mohammadi, Z. Mati; Mac Clay, Pablo; Feeney, Roberto; Harmath, Pedro; Keshavarz, Masi and Gunderson, Michael A..  2020.  Characterization of farmers’ management practices and strategies: a comparison between Argentine and U.S. farmers.  International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 23 (2)   : 235-252   . (Open Access)   Further Information


Feeney, Roberto; Accursi, Federico and Mac Clay, Pablo.  2019.  The Impact of Producers' Cognitive Styles on their Purchasing Behavior.  Journal on Food System Dynamics, 10 (5)   : 498-515   . (Open Access)   Further Information
Mac Clay, Pablo and Feeney, Roberto.  2019.  Analyzing agribusiness value chains: A literature review.  International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 22 (1)   : 31-46   . (Open Access)   Further Information


Feeney, Roberto and Mac Clay, Pablo.  2016.  Food security in Argentina: A production or distribution problem?.  International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 19(2)   : 1-32   . (Open Access)   Further Information
Feeney, Roberto; Perez, Carlos and Mac Clay, Pablo.  2016.  Bioceres: AG Biotechnology from Argentina.  Further Information

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads

Pablo Mac Clay

Junior Researcher

Private website:

Environmental Policy


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