Thomas Reardon

Thomas Reardon

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University Distinguished Professor
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics


Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
M.I.A., Columbia University
Diplôme, Institut Européen des Hautes Etudes Internationales, Université de Nice
B.A., Claremont Men's College

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Career. Thomas Reardon is a University Distinguished Professor in the tenure system, Fellow of the AAEA (Agricultural and Applied Economics Association) and Honorary Lifetime Member (equivalent of “Fellow”) of the IAAE (International Association of Agricultural Economists). He holds Masters degrees from the Université de Nice and from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. He was a Rockefeller Post-Doctoral Fellow with IFPRI posted to Burkina Faso with the University of Ouagadougou and ICRISAT, 1984-86, Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 1986-1991. He joined MSU in 1992.

Reputation. Tom has a global reputation. He is fellow of the American and international ag economics associations. He has (July 3, 2021) 37,501 citations in Google Scholar (thus in top 3 agricultural economists) with H-index of 90 (thus in top 4 of H-index in ag econ); and in top 10 by ISI Web of Science. Tom is in top 1.4% of 62,000 economists globally ranked by IDEAS/REPEC.  Tom was the first agricultural economist personal invitee to the World Economic Forum in Davos (in 2009); and was featured on the front page of the New York Times (in 2005).

Research. Tom’s research focuses on transformation of food value chains, studying the “modern revolution” (the Supermarket Revolution and the e-commerce revolution) and the “Quiet Revolution” (the dynamic proliferation of SMEs in the midstream of value chains, particularly in wholesale, logistics, and food processing), and to date, in fish, horticulture, dairy, cereals, beef, and poultry. Tom studies the impacts of value chain transformations on small farms, consumption/nutrition, and rural employment in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Tom also has long studied rural nonfarm employment/livelihoods of rural households and “sustainable intensification” and productivity of small farms.

Tom has published and in-press forthcoming in leading journals, including Journal of Economic Literature, PNAS, Science, Nature Sustainability, Nature Food, AJAE, Agricultural Economics, Food Policy, EDCC, Annual Review of Resource Economics, Journal of Economic Geography, Aquaculture, Applied Energy, Obesity Reviews, World Development, Journal of Agricultural Economics, Global Food Security, Journal of Development Studies, and others. His 2003 AJAE article on supermarkets in developing countries was awarded Honorable Mention for Enduring Quality by AAEA in 2019 and is one of the top five cited AJAE articles since 1980.With colleagues Tom has raised more than $30 million in extramural research grants from foundations and government agencies focused on fieldwork in those regions.

International research fieldwork and collaborations. Of Tom’s 40 years spent studying the above themes in spent 21 years in residence or long-term travel in those three regions, collaborating with national research institutions (NARS) and the CGIAR in extensive field survey work. 52/132 of Tom’s journal articles were published with NARS colleagues. Tom led/collaborated in many detailed primary field surveys totaling around 50,000 farm households, firms in value chains, and consumers in Africa and Asia. His main current fieldwork/data analysis/projects are in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia; Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar; Colombia.

Advising and teaching. Tom has advised more than 100 graduate students since 1992 (averaging 4/year), 30% as major professor. Most of his students participated in the international field work noted above. Tom co-published 50 articles with his students/ex-students. He teaches two MSU courses each fall, undergraduate course ABM/FIM 427, International Agrifood Markets, and AFRE 841, Food Systems Organization, and had taught for 20 years AFRE 861, Agriculture in international development.