Most of Owen's research and consultancy has been in the area of the economic development of remote Australian Indigenous communities. The communities studied have been in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland. Owen has also conducted research in the development of Indigenous communities in Alaska and in PNG. Other areas of research interest include regional economic development, cost-benefit analysis, and environmental economics.
Owen has conducted fieldwork for Indigenous research in the following places: Aboriginal communities on five cattle stations, central Australia, NT; Gagudju communities of Kakadu, NT; Nguiu, NT; Peppimenarti, NT; Daly River Mission, NT; Mornington Island, Qld; Western Desert outstations (a study of 53 outstations), NT; Barunga, NT; Wugularr, NT; Bulman, NT; Eva Valley Station, NT; Islands of the Torres Strait, Qld; Yagga Yagga and the sites of proposed Balgo (WA) outstations; Nondalton (Indian village), Alaska, USA; Kakadu Conservation Zone, NT; A number of Aboriginal communities adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park; Ok Tedi and Fly River villages and towns, PNG; Groote Eylandt Aboriginal communities, NT; Wadeye (Port Keats), NT; Doomadgee, Mornington Island and Indigenous communities in Burketown and Normanton involved in the Gulf Communities Agreement (Native Title), Qld; Kowanyama, Qld.