Strategic synergies and conflicts in the Swedish pulp and paper industry

The Swedish pulp and paper industry has the potential to contribute to the transition to a bio-based economy. This project investigates whether the business, energy and innovation strategies of the pulp and paper companies allow for the required resource efficiency and product diversification measures.

Strategic synergies and conflicts in the Swedish pulp and paper industry Photo credit: Birger Roos

Background

The pulp and paper industry is important for the growth of the Swedish economy. The forest industry contributes about 9–12 percent of Swedish industry’s employment, turnover and value added. 

The pulp and paper industry now faces great challenges. Demand for traditional paper products is decreasing and the industry therefore has to develop entirely new products for new markets. There are also pressures to reduce climate impact and handle an increasing competition for raw materials. 

At the same time, the transition to a bio-based economy is creating new opportunities for Swedish pulp and paper companies. Their raw materials and side streams can be used as a basis for more sustainable products for, e.g., the chemistry, energy and transport sectors

Aim 

To handle challenges and realize opportunities, well-designed strategies are needed at different company levels. Business strategies influence a company’s will and ability to diversify and implement efficiency measures. Energy strategies influence what type of measures are implemented and innovation strategies influence what new products are developed and how resource efficient this development is. The nature of these influences and potential synergies and conflicts between different types of strategies are, however, still unclear. 

The aim of the project is therefore to investigate the importance of strategies for the development of an energy efficient and competitive production. This includes the following parts:

  • Overview and categorization of the business, energy and innovation strategies of the Swedish pulp and paper industry.
  • Analysis of the interaction between energy, innovation and business strategies.
  • Analysis of how potential synergies and conflicts between different types of strategies can be handled to increase competitiveness.

Organization

The project runs 2017–2019 and is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency. The research includes analyses of annual reports and other document, interviews and a questionnaire-based survey. A reference group is connected to the project to make sure that its design and results are relevant to the industry.

 

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