Karl Erik Gustafsson born in 1938 was educated at the School of Economics and Commercial Law in Göteborg, where he held appointments from 1963, ending with a professorship in mass media economics 1989-2003. Gustafsson began his career as a researcher with three major studies, the first on the advertising decision making process, the second on the transformation of the Swedish advertising agency system, and the third on the effects on newspaper competition of the state press subsidy system. The summit of the career was reached by the editorship of a four-volume history of the Swedish press, in 2010 turned into a one-volume history in English. Beside the main work Gustafsson edited a series of about twenty volumes on Swedish press history. He is presently writing the first 25 years´ history of the Hamrin Research Foundation.
After becoming emeritus in 2003 he was given a call to a chair in the same subject – a 5-years’ appointment – at the Jönköping International Business School in its media research center MMTC. From 1993 to 2003 he served as an international reader at the Swedish School of Social Sciences, Helsinki University. He has also served as a guest professor at Paris II.
In 1978 he formed a mass media economics research unit, one of the first in Europe, at the School of Economics in Göteborg. He regularly organized academic and professional symposia to fill gaps in the knowledge of mass media economics, and started a report series as well as a publication series, in total about 50 and 15 books and reports, respectively. During his time in Göteborg he was member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Advertising.
Gustafsson served as an expert on mass media to the Swedish Encyclopedia and became an industrious contributor, particularly on country mass media reports for European countries. He has been a columnist in trade journals, Pressens Tidning (150 columns), Journalisten (75 columns) and Finlands Press (50 columns). He has also served in various positions, from expert to chairman, in government commissions on mass media, the latest finished its work in January 2006. Since the middle of the 1970´s Gustafsson has published a yearly report on the economy of the Swedish press, a project commissioned by the Press Subsidies Board.