- Existing strategies and policies have emphasized the need for cross-sector collaboration as a means for the forest sector to be more competitive. Cross-sector collaboration initiatives of forest sector companies with neighboring industries such as energy, chemicals, plastics, textiles, and packaging are gaining increasing attention as a necessary element for a successful transition to the bioeconomy. This situation presents a significant opportunity for forest sector companies to develop new products, explore new markets, and replace human dependence on fossil-based products with renewable, bio-based materials. Despite this, limited empirical research has investigated cross-sector collaborations involving forest sector companies and the challenges that these companies face in implementing collaboration across sectors.
In this dissertation, a three-phase qualitative research design was followed to investigate the key elements involved in collaborations between forest and neighboring sector companies, as well as assess forest sector company potential to collaborate with other industries. In the first phase, a systematic literature review was conducted to identify the main drivers, benefits, and challenges of cross-sector collaboration in the forest sector, and to improve the understanding of company-level, collaborations. Results show that little empirical work has been done regarding the link between forest sector companies and other sectors. Cost reduction, competitiveness, and environmental sustainability are considered the main drivers and benefits. Forest business culture, lack of trust, and lack of parameters to evaluate costs and savings are the key challenges to implementing these collaborations.
In the second phase, a multi-case study was implemented to document four collaboration cases involving eight companies. Turbulent environments and desire to be ahead of competitors are the main reasons these forest sector companies chose to collaborate. The documented collaborations that started with an early research and development process and established with startups are more likely to be successful. Findings shed light on the elements, mechanisms, and conditions needed to implement and manage cross-sector collaborations by forest sector companies.
In the third phase, the Progress Triangle framework was adapted and used to determine the potential of Oregon’s forest sector companies to collaborate with neighboring industries. Results illustrate a high perceived need to collaborate and a moderate collaborative potential in Oregon’s forest products industry. Training for employees to gain new knowledge and skills on creativity and negotiation skills, increasing their exposure to new technologies and building diverse teams may help to improve the collaborative potential in the industry. Forest sector managers can use recommendations from this dissertation to implement and manage cross-sector collaborations, and address issues, barriers, and challenges in implementing collaborations with firms from neighboring industries.