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Game Global, Atlanta Edition

By Steve Usselman, Associate Director

On May 6-8, CPBIS hosted an international team of scholars for the Game Global Networking Workshop. Made possible by a special supplemental grant from the Sloan Foundation, this workshop built upon an initiative conceived by former CPBIS Fellow Hannes Toivanen.  

As with two previous conferences held in Lappeenranta, Finland, the gathering was intended to foster comparative understanding of globalization in the pulp and paper industries. In addition to scholars from CPBIS and Finland, the group included academic researchers from Brazil, Sweden, and other North American institutions. Presentations covered Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.

The Atlanta workshop achieved two objectives. It provided the core group of participants with an opportunity to summarize findings from the initial program of research, and it enabled this core group to broaden its expertise by recruiting new members who will carry forward an expanded research agenda during the next three years.

Areas of emphasis from the initial program of research include:

Supply Change Management Studies by Hanna Kuittinen of Lappeenranta University and Paulo Zawislak of the Brazilian State University demonstrate how pulp and paper firms in Northern Europe and Brazil manage their supply chains in similar ways. Unlike firms in many other manufacturing sectors, pulp and paper companies tend to emphasize reliable supply of essential resources upstream from the production process, rather than focusing on customers. They are less likely than firms in those other sectors to manage supply chains in ways that might generate technical novelty and significant new sources of revenue. These findings complement those of several CPBIS researchers. Jan Youtie and Phil Shapira found a similar pattern, for instance, when they surveyed Georgia companies.

Management of InnovationMajor studies by Paulo Negreiros Figueriedo of the Getulio Vargas Foundation and by CPBIS researchers Usha Nair-Reichert and Vivek Ghosal, just completed this spring, provide informative contrasts regarding innovation in Brazilian and North American firms during the recent past. After conducting more than 150 interviews with individuals involved in forestry, pulping, and paper-making, Figueriedo concludes that Brazilian firms, after decades of deploying stable techniques transplanted from other regions, have during the past two decades rapidly developed quite sophisticated capacities to innovate across nearly all stages of production. As a result, they have come to resemble many North American firms, which during this same period have trimmed research efforts and acquired much of their innovation through purchase of equipment on a global market. The evidence of global convergence is striking.

Chinese Demand. Presentations by Ou Tang of Linkoping University and Joseph Buongiorno of the University of Wisconsin offered different perspectives on the likely course of development in China. Adding to previous work by Patrick McCarthy and Haizheng Li of CPBIS and Janaa Sandstrom of Lappeenranta, these studies extend our efforts to develop more reliable projections of future developments in this dynamic region.
Areas of emphasis going forward include:

Global Fiber FlowResearchers from each region agree that this represents a significant opportunity for further investigation. In addition to Professor Buongiorno, whose global resource model provides an excellent tool of analysis, the group was joined by Professor David Sonnenfeld of Washington State University. Sonnenfeld brings considerable experience in studying forest resources and practices in Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and other Asian locales. Professor Sonnenfeld is especially well versed in the role of non-governmental environmental organizations, a subject that CPBIS Associate Director for Research Steve Usselman is also studying.

EnergySatu Patari of Lappeenranta University discussed the potential of biorefinery technology in Finland, a subject CPBIS researchers have previously analyzed in the North American context. Researchers at the workshop agreed that evaluation of biorefineries must be situated within a broader assessment of energy issues in national and global contexts.

PackagingResearchers from each area of the globe agreed that the packaging industry cries out for further study. CPBIS has made this a major focus for its third phase of research, and so have our colleagues in Lappeenranta. Given the extraordinary demand for packaging in the rapidly developing Chinese manufacturing sector, research in this area must also take a global perspective.

Keep an eye on the CPBIS Web site for additional information on the workshop, the results presented, and the research agenda going forward. You can also contact me by email at steve.usselman@cpbis.gatech.edu.


About CPBIS: The Center for Paper Business and Industry Studies (CPBIS) is an internationally recognized academic research center providing business knowledge of relevance to the global forest products industry. The CPBIS is cosponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and the Paper Industry.



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