Current and future research themes in forest sector competitiveness: Case study of research orientations at the University of Helsinki

Brent Matthies, Jaana Korhonen, Anne Toppinen


Megaforces such as climate change, and market dynamics are impacting the development of product and
service markets in the forest sector, driving renewal and reorientation. The University of Helsinki (UofH) has
produced leading academic research, through global collaborations, on managing that transition by firms
within the Nordic forest sector. To further understanding of how much and in what ways their research is aligned
to forest sector developments, a case study was conducted assessing (1) the Nordic industrial forest context, (2)
the corresponding research contributions and collaborations from 2014–2019, and (3) future research orientations.
A conceptual lens of forest-value chain sustainability from the perspective of industrial competitiveness was
applied. Research design included three questions for the aspects noted, investigated sequentially to triangulate
and validate results. The results highlighted similarities and divergences between current and future research
orientations and between researcher perspectives and the actions of incumbent forestry firms. Together, these
indicate gaps in the ambition level required to support renewal in industrial competitiveness. Closing them will
require a radical transformation, relying on proactive management and investment toward new product and
service development, in order for forest industry firms to become champions in the circular and bioeconomy


Literature review, sustainability transition, bioeconomy, Finland, industrial competitiveness, forest sector

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