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2024 | Book

Constraints and Opportunities in Shaping the Future: New Approaches to Economics and Policy Making

ESPERA 2022, Bucharest, Romania, November 24-25, 2022

Editors: Luminita Chivu, Valeriu Ioan-Franc, George Georgescu, Ignacio De Los Ríos Carmenado, Jean Vasile Andrei

Publisher: Springer Nature Switzerland

Book Series : Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics


About this book

This book explores multifaceted dimensions of economic crisis management including strategies and trends post-crisis. It examines the constraints and opportunities shaping the future of economics, social science and policy making, providing various economic models and paradigms. Featuring the best papers presented at the 2022 International Conference of Economic Scientific Research - Theoretical, Empirical and Practical Approaches (ESPERA), this book explores topics of highest interest such as energy crisis, inflation, fiscal and monetary policy, food security, safety and sustainability, the future of work, global financial systems, sovereign debt sustainability, digital currencies, supply chain disruptions, and cybersecurity, among others. Through the discussion of these topics, this book bridges the gap between theory and practice in economic crisis management and it is useful for scholars, researchers, academics, and policymakers.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Foreword: Excellence in Scientific Economic Research in the Romanian Academy

Conceived by its founders not only as a forum of consecration but also as an active body of scientific research, in 2022, the Romanian Academy celebrated its 156 years of fruitfulness, reaffirming, on this occasion, the mission of serving the interests of the Romanian nation and, at the same time, of being a fair mediator between the globalisation and integration tendencies and preserving the national identity.

Valeriu Ioan-Franc
Chapter 2. On Morality in Economy and Scientific Research

The call to morals in economics and scientific research hasn’t been completely missing during the last two centuries. However, it was rather secondary to the Smithsonian “invisible hand”.The engine and, at the same time, the central concept of the economic activity since the dawn of the industrial age until today has been and still is “the greatness of profit” without which the contemporary economic thinking seems not to be able to evolve. Reflecting on the last two decades successive economic crises and, especially, on the powerful polarization in the global distribution of wealth, the discussion of this very inequality becomes topical again, making it hard for us to account for the “stubborness” with which the real economy fights the direction of this evolution. The main opponents of moral economics – which we are going to name “the economics of social welfare” – are the big end capital holders and their companies. The economic-financial crisis of 2008 made it clear – if still needed and for how many times yet – that in crisis situations it is still “the many and, sometimes, the needy” who are called to help “the few and the rich”.It is not even 15 years since the heads of the American economy and finance – H. M. Paulson şi B. Bernanke – asked for and saved with “the state’s money”, i.e. of the many, not only the American economy but also the great banks and credit institutions which “ultimately” had generated the crisis.These topics, and not only, framed within the principles of the humanist economy school of Barcelona that our Institute also joined, are the focus of our speech.

Valeriu Ioan-Franc, Andrei Marius Diamescu
Chapter 3. Towards Ethics-Driven Public Organisations

Rediscovering the ethical dimension within public administration supports the managerial role as a key driver of organisational effectiveness and service motivation. Acknowledging ethics enables public organisations to construct processes of social and public value creation with communities. This study refers to the role of public management as a driver of public service motivation that supports ethical behaviours within public organisations. Rediscovering the managerial dimension and public service motivation enables ethics-driven and responsive public organisations that contribute to social innovation. Public managers play a key role in driving ethical and organisational effectiveness within public administration, supporting the commitment and public service motivation of the employees to organisational goals and public values.

Mauro Romanelli
Chapter 4. Employees’ Trust as the Hard Core of Success to Business Integrity

In a globally competitive economy, business integrity emerges as key to building a leadership role and attracting and retaining employees in a trusted environment for business. The literature argues positive relationships between team trust and performance, sales, profits, employee turnover, leader empowering behavior, job crafting, work engagement, ethical leaders, employment engagement, management, interpersonal justice, commitment, satisfaction, intent to stay, and so on. To respond to the research question “Across EU 27 countries are there any relationships between employee’s trust reflected in job tenure and business integrity expressed by training in 2015 compared with 2020?,” we apply Kendall’s tau-b correlation. Variables failed the normality and linearity assumption for Pearson correlation. The main conclusion of this chapter is that across the EU 26 countries studied, there is an increase in employee retention in the medium term, at the same time with increasing enterprises that provide management training stronger in 2015 than in 2020. Training in IT, either general or professional, does not have any relevance in retaining employees. We emphasize the importance of training in management as a direct measure of integrity even though our assumption was designed as an indirect measure. Our main contribution is to measure, in a quantitative manner, integrity by training in management using official statistics. Also, integrity is a dynamic value that is more important and has to be defined, formalized, and implemented inside the organization.

Adriana Grigorescu, Cristina Lincaru, Speranta Pirciog
Chapter 5. The Role of Humans as Key Enablers of Industry 5.0

In 2011, the German government introduced Industry 4.0. A decade later, the European Commission initiated a new area of revolution named Industry 5.0. Based on the latest studies, this article explains the reasons behind the introduction of this new industry. It confirms the idea that I5.0 is a revolution rather than the evolution of I4.0. The Fifth Industrial Revolution, 5.0, aims to improve on the drawbacks of the previous one. Previous researchers have stated that, despite its benefits, I4.0 has lost its human and environmental dimension. Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I4.0 did not prove resilient enough to withstand the disruption and be recovered later. Therefore, Industry 5.0 supplements I4.0’s focus on three core values: human centricity, sustainability, and resilience. I5.0 will address the fundamental issue of the loss of human employees in the industry and the promotion of skills and diversities through innovative ways such as Operator 5.0 or Co-bots. Additionally, tighter cooperation between people, machines, and digital technologies is required in order to achieve mass personalisation. Mass personalisation helps achieve environmental and economic sustainability as well as industry resilience. Recent studies have shown that, despite Industry 5.0’s contribution to the world economy, ecology, and society, we will face many challenges during its implementation. The first challenge is developing the soft and practical skills of the workforce and other necessary abilities to execute Industry 5.0 as a whole. Specialised training programs, instructors, and other actors are necessary to offer training sessions for the development of these new soft and practical skills. On the other hand, strict privacy, security, and ethical concerns are necessary for the adoption of disruptive technology applications used in Industry 5.0.

Elda Dollija, Kriselda Gura
Chapter 6. Determinants of Organisations’ Decisions Regarding Investments in Human Resource Development

The study analyses the determinants influencing the decisions of organisations to invest in human resource development. The researchers in the field have been particularly interested in investments in human resources, having analysed various aspects of such investments. At the same time, it should be noted that most research in this field investigated the impact of human resource development investments on organisational performance as it could influence future decisions on the amount of investments. We also found that there is insufficient research on the perception of specific determinants of managerial decisions on human resource development investments. In this context, we have identified several determinants that, depending on the way they are perceived and valued by organisations, could influence managerial decisions regarding investments in human resource development. We also believe that the existence of a human resource development policy at the organisational level can have an impact on the assessment of the determinants that influence the level of investment for employee training. Based on the aforementioned, we formulated the following research question: Could an assessment of determinants influence the organisations’ decisions regarding investment in human resource development? For this purpose, we have developed a survey comprising several determinants that can more or less influence investments in human resource development. The Likert scale from “1” to “5” was used to evaluate the determinants. The study results show that the determinants with a higher score give greater responsiveness to organisations in terms of human resource development investments.

Alic Bîrcă, Luminița Chivu, Christiana Brigitte Sandu
Chapter 7. Examining the Empirical Relationship Between Happiness and Human Development in Emerging Economies

This study explores the empirical relationship between happiness and human development in seven emerging economies. The sample emerging economies are selected from the World Bank list, such as China, Russia, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey. by using panel data from UNDP and our world in data from 2005 to 2020, this study first applies the panel cointegration test to determine whether there is a long-run relationship or not and to find that no long-run relationship between happiness and human development in emerging economies is manifested. Second, the ultimate application of panel VAR modeling entails that a one-way short-run causal relationship running from human development to happiness in emerging economies exists. This means that in the short-run, in emerging economies, human development causes happiness but not vice versa. Therefore, for building significant long-run relationships, those economies should focus on long-term strategies of economic freedom and mental health development.

Md Ataul Gani Osmani, Laeeq Razzak Janjua, Mirela Panait, Vikas Kumar Singh Tomar
Chapter 8. The Impact of Large Families on Demographic Evolution

The demographic evolution is one of the greatest challenges of our century. Undoubtedly, the dramatic decline of the birth rate is an important structural problem that countries must face all over the globe. This problem finds its cause in the decreased number of children born by women of childbearing age, which leads to the impossibility of ensuring the generation replacement index. The specialized literature indicates that the improvement of the level of education among women is perhaps the main cause of the decrease in fertility (Kravdal, Demography 39:233–250, 2002; Lloyd, Education. Encyclopedia of population. Macmillan, 278–283, 2003; Lutz & Skirbekk, World population and human capital in the twenty-first century. Oxford University Press, 14–38, 2014; May & Rotenberg, Studies in Family Planning 51:193–204, 2020). This evolution in women’s lives led to an increase in the cost of opportunity for women when they put on hold their careers in favor of birth. Unemployment, degradation of living standards, stress, and uncertainty (Ghetau, Sociologie Românească 2:5–41, 2004) are also important factors that influence the level of fertility in a country.This paper aims to analyze the main demographic indicators for Romania and the impact of large families on demographic evolution. In order to understand the typology of the family with three or more children, we conducted a quantitative analysis (questionnaire) which showed some essential aspects about large families: the social structure of the family, living conditions, occupation, and education. According to Eurostat, in Romania, there were approximately 226,400 large families in 2021, but at the same time, 70% of households had no children. Moreover, for the period 2015–2022, families with three or more children replaced the lack of children in childless households (3.5%).This chapter contributes to the improvement of specialized literature by analyzing an important segment of the population, namely, families with three or more children.

Mihaela Hrisanta Mosora, Irina Granzulea, Cosmin Mosora
Chapter 9. Dynamics of the School Population, Differences Between Emigrants and Immigrants in Romania: Comparative Analysis

In the last two decades, the migration of people who aim to follow a higher education program has increased significantly, becoming an important subject that is dealt with from a political, social, and economic point of view. In this sense, the study tries to highlight the differences registered among Romanian emigrants and immigrants aged between 0 and 19 years and, respectively, among people who are pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate university studies. The importance of this study derives from the amount and level of education of both immigrants and emigrants, because children and young people today represent, among other things, the source of labor in the near or more distant future, which contributes to supporting the social insurance system and more. Considering that the number of emigrants is considerably higher than that of immigrants and that the main motivations of young people in the analyzed categories are generally structured on jobs and well-being, it is necessary to fulfill objective no. 10 of the 2030 Agenda, which refers to the reduction of inequalities.

Mihaela-Georgiana Oprea, Mihaela-Irma Vlădescu, Carmen Gheorghe
Chapter 10. Employee Resourcing Strategies in Tight Labour Market

This scientific endeavour addresses the problem of employee resourcing strategies in a tight labour market. Taking into account that employee resourcing is a complex activity, this study aims to analyse recruitment as its core element. Although the literature on this topic is rich, the analysis of options that organisations have at their disposal for attracting a workforce in a tight labour market has not been sufficiently explored. In this context, we have analysed several recruitment methods, traditional and via the Internet, used by organisations to attract different categories of workforce when there is a labour shortage in the labour market. The study focused on six traditional and three e-recruitment methods. Starting from this, the following research question was formulated: What are the recruitment methods most frequently used by organisations in attracting the workforce in a tight labour market? To answer the research question, a questionnaire was created which was applied to 350 organisations. Managers were used as respondents in case of small-sized organisations and human resource managers as the respondents of medium-sized and large-sized organisations. The research results show that organisations tend to use as many recruitment methods as possible to ensure the success of attracting the needed quantity and quality of the workforce.

Alic Bîrcă, Christiana Brigitte Sandu
Chapter 11. Estimation of Disembodied Technical Change During the Kuznets Cycles of Romania’s First Transition to Market Economy

Romania’s first transition to market economy lasted more than six decades (from the establishment of the Romanian modern state in 1859 till the Land Reform adopted in 1921). This transformation of the economy can be viewed in the context of three Kuznets cycles, defined by the fluctuations of the gross domestic product, institutional changes and two major external shocks – the 1877–1878 War of Independence and the 1899 international economic and financial crisis. This paper identifies not only the Kuznets cycles but also the Kitchin and Juglar cycles of Romania’s economy, estimates the rate of disembodied technical change and reveals the economic growth trajectory during each of the three Kuznets cycles during the 1863–1914 period. It concludes that the feature of economic growth has changed from one cycle to another and that the sensible fluctuations of the rate of growth were mainly caused by the blockages maintained in the agricultural activities.

Florin Marius Pavelescu
Chapter 12. R&D Expenditure – Conditioning Factor of Increasing Competitiveness – Indicators and Trends

The availability of the financial resources necessary for intensive and lasting support of the innovation process is one of the indispensable conditions for increasing competitiveness. Considering the high technical progress, a high level of R&D expenditures must also be taken into account because only with such a level can the maintenance of technological competitiveness be ensured, a reality confirmed by the electronic and electrotechnical industry.The existence of strong request directs R&D activities toward the realization of the innovations, necessary to satisfy it. In this context, the innovation process becomes only the technology bearer and the allocation of resources becomes a sine qua noncondition for the application of the most efficient technologies.

Alexandra-Ioana Lazăr, Adela-Simona Vlășceanu
Chapter 13. The Impact of Digitalization on the NUTS-2 Regions in Romania

Digitalization represents a key element for the development of today’s society. After the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become one of the community priorities that open up new opportunities for businesses and consumers, new horizons for relations with other economic areas worldwide, supporting the green transition and climate neutrality until 2050. Romania’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) aims to ensure an optimal balance between national and European Union priorities in the context of recovery after this crisis. Regarding the regional approach, it can help increase the level of economic and social development and reduce territorial inequalities.The article’s main objective is to identify the relationship between e-commerce and broadband infrastructure, both indicators specific to the digitalization process, and regional GDP, using as an instrument of analysis econometric modeling through a panel model. All of the indicators contain data for the eight development regions in Romania.The results of the research showed that chosen independent variables have a significant impact upon the dependent in Romania, for the 2010–2021 timeframe.

Daniela Antonescu, Ioana Cristina Florescu
Chapter 14. Citizen Participation, Good Governance, and ICT Nexus for the Sustainability of Smart Cities

Smart cities use information and information technology to optimize the decision-making process for the enhancement of life quality. In the concept of smart cities, the sustainability approach for the sake of better citizen participation and effective governance has been incorporated. The contextualized framework is a synthesis of the debate, which relies on the integrated data exchange of the interplay between the following relationships: Smart cities need good governance to be sustainable, good governance needs citizen engagement to be effective, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the main mediator of this nexus. Based on the systematic literature review, the main solution to the debate has been placed the digital citizen participation. Based on this, the focus of this work is to see how government uses its mechanisms to create value for citizens taking into consideration the fact that nowadays technological advancement is being a priority. To elaborate this, it raises questions like what kind of relationship fosters the sustainability of smart cities and how can technology contribute to that; how government deploys ICT to create and/or constrain opportunities for citizens in the decision-making processes; what are the similarities and/or difference in participation between urban and rural areas; and finally, what is the difference in the planning and implementation process. The main result of the research is that the sustainability of smart cities requires accountability measures by the governance and not necessarily to become active themselves. It is derived from the special importance of the clear participatory frame for the citizen, and the main recommendation derived is the special consideration to the context-dependent factors in the smart city.

Kriselda Sulcaj Gura, Fatmir Guri, Servet Gura, Elda Dollija
Chapter 15. Digital Finance Is a Key of European and Global Integration

The current needs of the financial consumer are constantly changing in the context of the digital era, which is why we can appreciate that the future of financial instruments that satisfy these needs is given precisely by the digitalization of financial instruments through technologies, financial innovations and, finally, new models of business in the financial field. In our paper, we propose that, based on the analysis of existing empirical studies in international scientific databases, we highlight those innovative financial solutions based on artificial intelligence, which have contributed to the acceleration of the process regarding innovations in digital financial services, as well as to the development of digital infrastructure related to institutions financial, which from a strategic point of view offers accessibility, reliability, safety and comfort to the final consumer.

Otilia Manta
Chapter 16. Modeling the Perception of the Business Environment Through the Analysis of Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Starting from the hypothesis that perception of the business environment, the entrepreneurial experience, and the field of activity are independent variables influenced by opportunities identified in the market, this chapter aimed to create a development model that reflects these aspects. In order to do that, we have conducted an analysis of specific economic connections and their intensity between the analyzed variables that appear and develop as a result of various influences, which can act with different degrees of intensity in the same or opposite directions. Based on the hypothesis entrepreneurial experience influences the way respondents perceive the opportunities offered by the business environment and can make connections, sometimes very complex. The authors’ approach identified the interdependencies between the perception related to the business environment, the entrepreneurial experience, and the field of activity and how the business environment factors influence them. In the second part of the chapter, the authors created a model of these dependencies starting from the hypothesis that there is a linear correlation between these parameters and the specific factors of the business environment that act on the companies.

Ionela Gavrila-Paven, Ruxandra Lazea
Chapter 17. Circular Economy Performance at Regional Level in European Union

Circular economy represents the reuse of products that have reached the end of their life cycle by repairing them or transforming them into recycled raw materials. This way, the consumption of resources and energy needed for the production of new equipment can be diminished and in time waste generation can be reduced. The main objective of this research is to identify a regional hierarchy of the EU member states according to the circular economy indicators. Several relevant monitoring indicators for the circular economy evolution were analyzed, namely generated municipal waste, circular material use rate, packaging recycling rate, biodegradable waste recycling rate, circular economy investment, circular economy innovation, and rate of WEEE recycling. The methodology used includes a literature review, former research outputs analyzed for the objective of this research, and dynamic and comparative statistical analysis on the evolution of relevant indicators at the level of five EU geographical regions. The results of the research highlighted the fact that, at regional level, the circular economy has a fragmented distribution. Consequently, a number of regions, and implicitly the member states that form that region, recorded higher values for some indicators and lower or average values for other indicators.

Victor Platon, Simona Frone, Andreea Constantinescu, Sorina Jurist
Chapter 18. Bibliometric Analysis of the Evaluation of Interest in Urban Regeneration

Urban regeneration does not only involve architecture and urban planning projects. The concept is complex and is related to the obligation of collaboration and, necessarily, investments. Urban regeneration starts from context creators and extends to civil society represented by key players and supporters, who represent the personnel that provide education and training at all levels, as well as researchers from all fields of science. The aim of the work is to use digital tools specific to bibliometric analysis in order to evaluate the evolution of interest in urban regeneration and its related key topics over the past three decades. In this sense, to highlight urban regeneration, alongside another subject strictly related to it (development strategy, economic and social impact, economy, education and training, greenhouse gases, local development strategy, quality of life, and urban landscape), Lens, Excel, and VOSviewer were used.

Anna-Maria Vasile, Carmen Ghimus, Mihaela-Georgiana Oprea
Chapter 19. Investigating the Impact of COVID-19 Policy Decisions on Economic Growth: Evidence from EU Countries

In this chapter, we examine the link between the policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak and economic growth. Using three key response variables namely containment and health index, overall government response index, and economic support and a sample of 27 EU countries from 2007q1 to 2022q1, we bring strong empirical evidence that the economic recovery was linked to the intensity of the government response. More to the point, the estimates reveal that the higher intensity of support measures, regardless of their type, is leading to an improvement on economic growth and its components in the next quarter. Furthermore, the impact on economic growth is higher when the government increases the intensity of containment and health measures compared to economic measures.

Cosmin-Octavian Cepoi, Bogdan Andrei Dumitrescu, Ionel Leonida
Chapter 20. The Impact of Pandemic Crisis on Fiscal Sustainability

The pandemic crisis has produced an important transformation of the fiscal framework of European Union states. Thus, the necessity to finance expansionary fiscal policies implemented by governments has resulted in an impressive increase in budgetary deficits and public debts in EU countries. The rise in public indebtedness requires a complete rethinking of the actual fiscal rules. There have been proposed several modifications for the fiscal framework, to consider the high levels of debts and deficits, which cannot be reverted to pre-pandemic values. We will analyze in this paper several proposals to change the actual fiscal rules in a period of low interest rates, which allow the accumulation of further indebtedness. The actual fiscal rules, such as the structural budget balanced rule, the debt rule, or the expenditure rule, are no longer functioning considering the necessity to reach sustainable fiscal positions.

Ada Cristina Albu
Chapter 21. Stock Market Reactions to ESG Dynamics: A European Banking Perspective

The actions taken worldwide to combat the effects of climate change have boosted the analysis of related economic risks in the financial sector on the three components: environment, social, and governance (ESG). ESG scores calculated by specialized providers for listed companies are increasingly taken into account, in addition to economic and financial ones, demonstrating the importance of these factors for the financial system. Some studies show that from the investors’ point of view, pursuing ESG objectives positively limits legal and reputational risks, firm performance, and the perception of firms’ risk profiles. These factors help reduce the risk premium and cost of capital, benefiting financial performance. Based on these findings, we considered investigating the reaction of listed European banks’ returns to ESG value changes. The analysis covers the stock prices of all banks traded on stock exchanges from Europe, considering the analysis of daily frequencies between 2010 and 2021. We collected data on the values of ESG components for all these companies and created a database with all moments when changes in these values took place. Further, we run an event study analysis of the impact of these modifications on the dynamics of stock market log returns for the sample of banks. Our objective is to quantify investors’ reactions to these changes and document differences in responses to increased versus decreased values of ESG.

Iulia Lupu, Adina Criste
Chapter 22. The Efficiency of Futures Markets on Cryptocurrencies

From the launch of Bitcoin till the present moment, cryptocurrency market had expanded continuously, gaining more and more influence over the global economy with each passing year. Yet, the events of 2020 marked a new phase for the cryptocurrency ecosystem, which has experienced a significant increase in size and complexity. The third halving cycle that led to an increase in cryptocurrency prices, the beginning of pandemic, and afterward inflation and economic uncertainty made Bitcoin an attractive asset for both retail and institutional investors. Although the liquidity of the cryptocurrency assets increased, their volatile nature is still persistent, causing mixed views on its status. While crypto-enthusiasts are perceiving it as a worthwhile investment with novel economic properties, the more skeptic participants consider it only a speculative asset with a transitory presence. The absence of a consensus on this topic has attracted the interest of the academic community, which aims to analyze whether cryptocurrencies display economic properties. A keystone characteristic for considering cryptocurrency an economic asset is the lack of price manipulation. In this respect, numerous papers have investigated the efficiency of the cryptocurrency market. Even though the results are mixed, a large body of studies indicate that the efficiency of the crypto-assets market varies, increasing from period to period. However, most of the papers focus on testing information efficiency only on the spot market. Thus, the objective of this study is to analyze whether the futures cryptocurrency market is efficient. In this regard, the futures prices for Bitcoin from 2018 to 2022 are used. On them, a battery of tests is applied, which investigate several statistical properties that can assess the efficiency hypothesis. Furthermore, under the assumption of efficient market hypothesis the spot and future prices are supposed to move together. In the contrary case, the efficient market hypothesis is rejected. Thus, the property is evaluated from a double perspective by using statistical tests and evaluating the relation between the spot and the future price.

Radu Lupu, Catalina Maria Popa
Chapter 23. The Impact of Climate Change on Revenues from Environmental Taxes and Expenses for Environmental Protection in the EU for 2010–2020

In the last decades, climate change has been treated more and more frequently in the literature, as its consequences multiply. However, specific local, regional, or global studies are still needed to discern the particular aspects of climate change and the most effective ways to mitigate it. Therefore, through an econometric analysis, the article aims to address a set of indicators of climate change and highlight their impact on the evolution of taxes and national environmental expenses, in EU member countries, for the period 2010–2020. The work reveals the need to increase the efficiency of taxation and environmental expenses, through a better involvement of the governments of the EU states.

Alina Georgeta Ailincă, Gabriela Cornelia Piciu
Chapter 24. Recovery of Critical Metals from Mine Tailings

The availability of primary resources correlated with waste production from exploration and mining activities will remain a need to satisfy the growing global demand for raw materials. The present research started with the idea that tailings and wastes from mining can be considered mineral reserves. The project aimed to increase the efficiency of resources through the recycling of residues and their integration into a circular economy concept. Special emphasis is placed on processing mine tailings to turn them into a valuable source of secondary raw materials. This is an important step toward sustainability and reducing the negative impact on the environment. This chapter presents the objectives targeted by the REVIVING research project. Therefore, the aim was to obtain improved models for efficiently recycling metals from residues in selected case study mines, based, for the first time, on the manipulation of the microbiome existing within autochthonous tailings, using molecular data to promote the bioleaching bacterial populations, and innovative hydrometallurgy, using negative pressure. The study aimed to cover the entire cycle of obtaining metals, from secondary sources to the production of a marketable product. It also aimed to enable the efficient recycling of tailings and reduce the residues generated by the mining process, thus contributing to the reconnection of raw materials to society. The ultimate goal of the project was to find alternative sources of critical metals, as these are vulnerable to disruption of supply because their core source is restricted to just one or two regions of the world, and they are difficult to substitute within the specific technologies that use them, being vital raw materials in various new and green emerging industrial processes.

Alina Butu, Paula V. Morais, Marian Butu, Sorin Avram, Steliana Rodino
Chapter 25. The Geopolitics of Resources: The Critical Minerals

In the context of COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on mobility, the interruptions on the global supply chains generated a steep problem for all economies. To this, other challenges like the trade war between USA and China, the natural disasters, and the recent military conflict in Ukraine have added new blockages of supply with raw materials and intermediary goods, which impacted an accelerated escalation of prices for essential products.The high-tech fields with high value added contain rare goods, which require predictability of supply and affordable costs. Either we talk about the green transition, the digitalization or, so to speak, the fourth industrial revolution, these processes envisage products with high-tech input. No transformational process could be realized in energy, manufacturing, or the economy, as a whole, if the access to basic resources remains restricted.This chapter analyzes the global access to critical minerals, which are in demand for producing future technologies, with a particular view on the USA–China relationship and the competition for mineral resources. In the context of the new national security strategy of the USA, it is relevant to observe how the largest economy in the world considers increasing access to these minerals, what are their advantages and vulnerabilities with which they might confront in the global competitiveness race, and which are the opportunities that this field is providing.

Cristian Marius Moisoiu
Chapter 26. The Critical Mineral Rush: Lithium and Cobalt – A Canadian Perspective

Critical minerals are essential for the transition to clean and green energy and for the development of new technologies. Although lists of critical minerals may vary from country to country based on national priorities, there is generally overlap in a number of key resources. The definition of critical minerals serves to prioritize and guide investment, support projects and supply chains, and overall transition to the new economy. As the energy transition and industries of the future rely on essential minerals and forecasts show a significant increase in demand that current supply cannot meet, building supply chains is an important priority for any major economy. In addition, geopolitical uncertainties and conflicts that are intensifying or frozen increase the risks related to mineral resources and critical metals, so governments are obliged to assess their own vulnerabilities and capabilities. The current list of critical minerals in the Canadian strategy includes 31 minerals, but six of them require special attention (in alphabetical order): cobalt, copper, graphite, lithium, nickel, and rare earths. This paper proposes an analysis of the two critical minerals, lithium and cobalt, highlighting Canada’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as risks and opportunities.

Daniel Bulin
Chapter 27. How Romania May Benefit from the Natural Gas Resources’ Offshore Exploitation of the Black Sea Romanian Continental Shelf?

The age of natural gas is not over, and it won’t be over any time soon. With significant reserves of natural gas, Romania can become an important player in this market, if it knows how to play this card. In this respect, Romania has an extraordinary chance that few countries in Europe have: its own natural gas resources and, above all, the significant deposits discovered in the Black Sea continental shelf. Therefore, these huge natural gas reserves call for important investments in the Black Sea in the coming years. For these reasons, the paper examines and analyzes both the natural gas resources and the great benefits these investments may induce in Romania. If the domestic consumption remains at the present level, Romania may be independent of Russian gas and even export up to a quarter of the gas production, and this represents the great opportunity given by such projects. In the article, this impact is quantified by analyzing the volume of investments, including capital and operational expenditures. In addition, employment, revenues to the state budget, and macroeconomic indicators have multiple impacts on the Romanian economy. Concerning the spillover effects in the economy of investments from the Black Sea, the paper demonstrates that the development of offshore natural gas projects from the Romanian continental shelf will create new opportunities for other Romanian industries as well, contributing to their return to the level of past achievements or the development of new products and services for the economy.

Marius Bulearcă
Chapter 28. Application of Machine Learning Techniques in Natural Gas Price Modeling. Analyses, Comparisons, and Predictions for Romania

The current global energy crisis is an important topic, which emphasizes the need to study the natural gas market, with appropriate modeling methods, for a proper substantiation of the public policies. The specialized literature is generous in terms of the analyses carried out on the electricity market, but the natural gas market is not a subject fully exploited by researchers; therefore, this article represents an important contribution to knowledge in the field. This article analyses the natural gas market in Romania between November 2016 and September 2022, using data collected daily, representing the weighted average daily price of natural gas. The research is carried out with the help of advanced machine learning methods, namely, a series of basic algorithms (models), but also three categories of ensemble learning methods (bagging, boosting, and stacking). It was found that the price of natural gas in Romania can be estimated with high accuracy, using decision tree (DT) algorithms or with the help of artificial neural networks (ANNs). However, ensemble learning-based modeling proves to be the best estimation method, characterized by reduced prediction errors compared to basic models.

Stelian Stancu, Alexandru Isaic-Maniu, Constanţa-Nicoleta Bodea, Mihai Sabin Muscalu, Denisa Elena Bălă
Chapter 29. Recent Developments of Medium Technology Activities Specific to the Romanian Manufacturing Industry in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the War in Ukraine

The Romanian manufacturing industry was affected by two consecutive shocks in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. A number of factors, including global value chain disruptions and the increased volatility of domestic and foreign demand, have contributed to the output contraction of the manufacturing industry during the pandemic. The war in Ukraine generated a second shock to the economy, particularly to industry. The significant increase in prices, especially for energy, has led to increased production costs, negatively impacting the industry. In this context, the paper analyzes the dynamics of production in medium technology activities specific to the manufacturing industry in Romania and compares the dynamics in Romania with the main economies in the region and with the EU average. The paper also estimates two autoregressive vector models that allow for the econometric analysis of the impact on the medium technology activities of two shocks, one represented by the pandemic and the other by the significant increase in industrial producer prices. The econometrical results are consistent with the statistical data on the production dynamics during the pandemic and capture the high impact of the pandemic shock on manufacturing. The analysis of the impact of the industrial producer prices shock on medium-technology activities reflects the impact of the disinflationary trends during the pandemic period, especially the second and third quarters of 2020, as well as the strong inflationary shock generated by the war in Ukraine.

Andrei Silviu Dospinescu
Chapter 30. Characterization of the Main Changes in the Natural Gas Market in Romania on the Context of Current Energy Crisis

The current studies on the European Union natural gas market highlight the high demand for natural gas, despite efforts to achieve the transition to a low-carbon energy system. At the same time, world natural gas production is still dominated by countries from the Middle East region, the Russian Federation, and the USA.The article presents the main results of statistical research aimed at changes on the natural gas market in Romania, highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and presenting some initiatives to reduce dependence, especially on natural gas supplies from the Russian Federation.The natural gas market in Romania is analyzed from the perspective of natural gas demand, natural gas import and export, domestic production, infrastructure, and price evolution. Also, the impact of the changes on the world natural gas market on the Romanian economy was evaluated and recommendations were formulated for the implementation of measures to mitigate the negative effects of the increase in natural gas prices on the evolution of macroeconomic indicators, under the conditions of harmonization with European Union policies in the field.

Alexandru Isaic-Maniu, Stelian Stancu, Constanţa-Nicoleta Bodea, Mihai Sabin Muscalu, Denisa Elena Bălă
Chapter 31. Solutions for the Adoption of a Real Sustainable Mobility System

Sustainable transport, developed on the basis of the general concept of sustainable development, has in recent decades become increasingly important for socioeconomic development strategies. In this context, many researchers, economists, politicians, or interest groups have tried to define, first, and subsequently implement the concept of sustainable transport and implicitly the policies and instruments specific to this approach. However, the results were not great. Therefore, this paper aims to present briefly the elements (instruments, economic policies, legislations, etc.) that can support the development of a sustainable transport system. The paper begins by briefly presenting the defining elements of the concept of sustainable transport and the practices (legislative, technical, etc.) existing so far. The analyses carried out show, in particular, that, so far, policy in the field has, for the most part, been aimed at encouraging the use of less polluting means of transport, but, in my opinion, the most important instrument, namely a substantial reduction in demand for transport, has been excluded. That reduction must certainly be made in line with the coverage of mobility needs but, at the same time, the reduction of the areas of land occupied by transport infrastructure and the development of social policies to combat the negative effects of transport. Using the key elements of the transport demand function, the study also presents some potential elements to be found in a concrete strategy to develop sustainable mobility. In this context, the document presents many examples of good practices and concrete proposals to support the real implementation of a sustainable transport system.

Frantz Daniel Fistung
Chapter 32. Industrial Policies Regarding R&D Activities and Their Effects on Economic Performance

Industrial policies are aimed at ensuring a favorable framework for industrial competitiveness and especially aim at exploiting the industrial potential of the innovation policy, a concept interpreted differently from one country to another. The objectives of the innovation policy derive from the need to promptly respond to problems, constituting a condition of economic vitality, productivity growth, and the adoption of such a policy supported by the allocation of financial, material, and human resources will allow the identification and successful application of the most appropriate solutions.

Alexandra-Ioana Lazăr
Chapter 33. Study Regarding the Use of Mobile Phones in Romania

The development of the IT&C environment has provided opportunities regarding the way data is collected, stored, created, and managed, both at the individual and organizational level. People prefer mobility for devices they use. Therefore, computing systems have benefited from a constant stream of technological development. Mainframe computers were succeeded by minicomputers, which led to personal computers and then to mobile devices. The benefits of mobile technology include innovation, flexible work opportunities, higher-quality work, and better cross-border collaboration and communication. However, managing the security of the data contained within these devices remains a challenge. Smartphones are the most widely used means in this regard, both for personal and work purposes. As their prevalence has increased, smartphones have become more prone to cyberattacks and are associated with an increasing level of security risks. The present study aims to analyze the current state of the number of mobile phone users in Romania, both from the perspective of individual users and companies that offer their employees the opportunity to have a work phone. Another aspect that this paper examines is the evolution of smartphone users and mobile Internet connectivity. This chapter represents the baseline for the development of a complex research that aims to build directions towards preventing and detecting intrusions associated with specific mobile environments cyberattacks.

Vanesa Madalina Vargas, Cosmin Alexandru Teodorescu
Chapter 34. The Impact of Energy Crisis on the Vegetable Sector in Romania

The Covid-19 pandemic spread throughout the world, followed by the crisis of rising energy and gas prices, and their immediate consequences tend to have disruptive effects on food security, in Romania’s vegetable sector inclusively. The purpose of the chapter is to estimate the effects of energy and fertilizer price changes on producer and consumer prices and the degree of threat to food security in the vegetable sector, including the presentation of several scenarios regarding the change in production costs and vegetable farm net income. Total specific costs, costs of agricultural inputs including energy and fertilizers, farmgate and consumer prices, and related volatility coefficients are among the indicators used for this purpose. The results of the scenarios used reveal that there is a significant impact on producer and consumer prices, but also on the net farm income. At the same time, the results reveal an adaptation of farmers to this crisis by adjusting the use and application of agricultural inputs or cultivated areas. This adaptation of vegetable farmers to crises increases the food insecurity in this sector, which has been confronted with many other vulnerabilities over the years.

Cornelia Alboiu
Chapter 35. Assessment of Pesticide and Fertilizer Consumption and Its Effects on Agricultural Output in Romanian Farms

The requirements of the European Green Deal on climate and environment have been included in the two strategies launched in 2020, namely, the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy. The aim is to design a healthy, fair, and environmentally friendly agri-food system by 2030. According to these strategies, the EU wants to reduce the dependence of agricultural production on pesticides, antibiotics and on the overuse of chemical fertilizers, in conjunction with the increase in organically cultivated areas and set aside areas. The aim of the study is to assess the pesticide and fertilizer consumption by Romanian farms and to analyse their effects on agricultural output. The study uses the FADN data from 2016, 2017 and 2018.The paper estimates a Cobb-Douglas production function for crop farms in Romania using the control function method with the capital as a state variable and labour as a free variable. Farms were divided into four groups according to size, and for each group, a production function was estimated.An analysis of the use of crop protection and fertilizers depending on the size of the farm showed that in Romania, the smallest farms are the ones that make the most intensive use of both fertilizers and crop protection and might be most affected by the requirements. The estimation of the production function showed that the small farms have the highest elasticity of fertilizers with respect to the output, more than double in comparison to the next farm group. The elasticity of crop protection is also largest for the small farms, but very large farms and medium farms have also large elasticities.

Cecilia Alexandri, Bianca Pauna, Corina Saman, Lucian Luca
Chapter 36. Identifying the Determining Factors of the Adoption of Ecological Practices by Dairy Farms in Suceava County, Romania

The present paper aims to identify the main factors for the adoption of ecological practices by dairy farmers from Dornelor Basin, Suceava county. In the last decade, this topic has received increased attention from the academic sector, in order to better understand the determining factors that can lead to a transition to ecological farming practices, as part of the efforts to protect biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. The main results highlight that the decision to adopt ecological farming practices is based on a mix of economic, social, institutional, and behavioural factors, closely related to farmers’ self-identity, experience, motivation and social context in which they carry out their activity. Some studies indicate that the best method to support this transition to more sustainable practices is to influence farmers’ motivation and behaviour, while other studies focus on a broader approach that calls for social, economic, technological, and institutional changes at the level of different actors (farmers, supply chain, natural resource management, etc.). In this context, the present study uses a large-scale survey implemented on 52 dairy cow farms in the Dornelor Basin, in order to analyse the main factors for the adoption of ecological practices. The questionnaire used for data collection specifically sought to find out farmers’ opinions regarding different elements, of personal, institutional, and motivational nature. Data were processed using the SPSS software, standard statistical methods and non-parametric tests. The preliminary results indicate that in the case of dairy farms from the Dornelor Basin, the main factors that influence the decision to adopt ecological practices are related to individual motivation (mainly personal/family issues), social norms (e.g., their identification as farmers and belonging to the farming community), and certain economic and environmental benefits (such as high profitability and biodiversity improvement).

Mihai Alexandru Chițea, Marioara Rusu, Violeta Florian, Lorena Florentina Chițea, Elisabeta Roșu, Monica Mihaela Tudor, Sorinel Ionel Bucur, Lucian Luca, Iuliana Ionel, Ioan Sebastian Brumă, Lucian Tanasă, Codrin Dinu Vasiliu, Gabriel Simion
Chapter 37. Pollution and Value Added in Agriculture: Evidence from the Biggest Agricultural Producers in the European Union

Agricultural pollution might have many sources, but the consequences could refer to direct and downstream effects. The impact of pollution on climate change has intensified the research in this field. This paper proposes a revised Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) adapted to agriculture by considering value added in this sector instead of GDP. The results using CCEMG estimator for the biggest agricultural producers in the EU (France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Romania, Poland, Greece, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Hungary) in the period 2009–2020 could support policy measures to reduce pollution. The inverted-N pattern and the positive impact of energy consumption and employment in agriculture suggest that more efforts are necessary to reduce GHG emissions in this sector by promoting green technology, renewable energy, and qualified labour force to use advanced technology in agriculture.

Mihaela Simionescu
Chapter 38. Strategies for Bioeconomy in Central and Eastern Europe: BIOEAST Initiative and BIOEASTsUP Project

The concept of bioeconomy is relatively new in the world. As a consequence, the strategies and policies in economy have changed toward bioeconomy. They follow the goals fixed by the concept. The study presents the concept, BIOEAST Initiative and BIOEASTsUP Project. Based on the information available, it is presented the level of development of the strategies, in the European Union (EU) countries, with special focus on Central and South Eastern member states. The study highlights the opportunities, threats, challenges the countries have, using the findings from BIOEAST and BIOEASTsUP and the links between them. To reach the objectives proposed, statistical data available on the official web pages of the European Commission (EC), documents elaborated by EU institutions, and texts and analyses from initiative and project were used. For better understanding of the initiative and the project, it is presented the role the project has, to help the achievement of the objectives established in bioeconomy, when the BIOEASTS was created for countries from Central and South East of EU. The results of the study reflect the benefits of the strategies. They open new opportunities for member states and eliminate the main issues appeared in economy in the last decades. By initiative and project, the creation of the strategies in accordance with EU regulations is important and useful in the future, especially if we have in view the EU funds available in this field. Obviously, in Europe, especially for EU member states, bioeconomy will become more and more important and will play strategic role at the national level.

Dan-Marius Voicilas
Chapter 39. Are Census Socioeconomic Variables a Consistent Tool for Analyzing Human Resources Sustainability on Romania’s Labor Market?

Censuses ensure obtaining important data on some indicators of the labor market, as they observe the entire population of the national territory, in its smallest subdivisions. Multiple difficulties regarding the harmonization of census data provided by the EU member states emerged at the level of the European Union. However, solutions have gradually been identified and implemented for ensuring data comparability between countries. Among the EU states, there has been a growing tendency to move from the traditional organization of census to an approach based totally or partially (for the time being) on administrative sources. Using a combined census (survey data combined with administrative registers) is considered as a tool for statistical information consolidation. Another interesting trend, which arose in the context of the expansion of ICT technologies, was the digitalization of the census data collection system, considered as a factor with an impact on the respondents’ compliance degree. Best practices regarding online self-enumeration in the EU countries were analyzed. For Romania, the main characteristics of self-enumeration were highlighted, along with the changes made in Romania’s census questionnaire, with a focus on labor market indicators.

Raluca Mazilescu, Valentina Vasile, Ana-Maria Ciuhu, Marius-Răzvan Surugiu
Chapter 40. Montanology and Current Challenges at European and Global Level

Starting from the definition given by Professor Radu Rey, respectively, montanology is the multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary scientific discipline, which aims to study economic-ecological-social phenomena in mountain areas, and which characterizes human-nature relations within the systems mountains. Moreover, this science aims to conceptualize and promote ways (methods, tools and techniques) that lead to the optimization and development of mountain systems as a whole. In addition, montanology integrates multidisciplinary knowledge in the following related fields such as: agriculture, animal husbandry, human ecology, geoecology and pedology, biology, demography and ethnography, human and animal psychology, architecture, construction and building materials, elements of forestry and geology, beekeeping, fish farming, economy, organization and operation of the private mountain household, as well as other specific systems, mountain systematization, mountain design, specific ergonomics, small industry and crafts, tourism and agrotourism, health education, nature. Similarly to the above, material resources (mineral, plant and animal), energy resources (unconventional), legislation and legal relations, other useful knowledge specific to mountains, human resources – tradition and culture are also integrated.

Radu Rey, Otilia Manta
Chapter 41. Relevant Methods for Reducing the Phenomenon of Food Waste in the HORECA Sector in the Romanian Mountain Regions

Food waste is a generalized process that affects both the environment and resources (natural, financial, sanitary, etc.). The negative effects are felt both at the individual level (household budget) and at the society level, being difficult to combat. From the quantitative and qualitative analyses, it was observed that food waste at the household level represents over 50% of its total volume, although food waste is produced throughout the supply chain. Some economic sectors, by the nature of their activities, have a greater predilection to waste food, such as the HoReCa sector or large stores. Advanced solutions for diminishing the food waste take on different forms of manifestation, from awareness of the phenomenon itself to the sizing of portions, the promotion of good practices, innovative packaging, etc. Considering the aforementioned, this article seeks to contribute to a better knowledge of the phenomenon of food waste and to identify some viable solution by which this phenomenon can be combated.

Daniela Antonescu, Ioan Surdu
Chapter 42. Study on Demographics and Tourism as the Main Economic Activity in the Dornelor Country

The current economic and social context generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has made the post-pandemic tourist more attracted by the safety, food, and environmental health in which they choose to spend their leisure time, but also by the desire for authentic experiences. The Dorna Country manages to harmoniously combine all these elements. Among non-agricultural activities, rural tourism, agrotourism, and ecotourism have seen significant development in recent times. These activities play an important role in the economic development of the Dorna Country and, implicitly, in increasing the income of the inhabitants. The tourists’ choice to spend their leisure time in the mountain localities of the Dorna Country determines the support for the entrepreneurial spirit of the inhabitants for the establishment and the development of businesses specific to tourism services. The local products consumed by tourists in tourist accommodation units, originating mostly from their own households and from the Dorna Country area, represent an element of cultural and traditional identity specific to local gastronomy. The Dorna Country offers valuable natural tourist attractions, enhanced by the mountain scenery, based on which a wide range of forms of tourism can be developed.

Niculina Onesifereanu, Dănuț Gîțan, Mioara Bocanici
Chapter 43. Conclusions and Follow-Ups

The aim of the International Conference ESPERA, initiated in 2013 by the National Institute for Economic Research “Costin C. Kirițescu” (NIER) of the Romanian Academy, is to present and evaluate the economic scientific research portfolio and to argue and substantiate the Romanian development strategies – including European and global best practices. The 9th edition of the Conference, ESPERA 2022, had the theme: “Constraints and opportunities in shaping the future. New approaches to economics and policy making”. The Conference agenda includes in the Plenary Session, as guests of honour, scientific personalities from the Romanian Academy and prestigious international institutions, containing approximately 140 papers, structured into 15 parallel sessions, with more than 300 authors from 14 countries. The international event was launched as a thought-provoking exercise for researchers and was organized in such a way as to provide an academic platform for debates, covering the broadest approaches, enabling an interactive exchange of ideas and the latest results and findings, including those emerged in economic science arising from both fundamental and empirical researches and promoting evidence-based policy making new vision under multiple crisis circumstances.

Luminița Chivu, George Georgescu, Jean Vasile Andrei
Constraints and Opportunities in Shaping the Future: New Approaches to Economics and Policy Making
Luminita Chivu
Valeriu Ioan-Franc
George Georgescu
Ignacio De Los Ríos Carmenado
Jean Vasile Andrei
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