Owen is a Professor with the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods at Charles Darwin University. Most of Owen's research and consultancy has been in the area of the economic development of remote Australian Indigenous communities 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 led a project that looked at new ways to involve Indigenous people in water planning during the first phase of TRaCK research.