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Policy, innovation: Historical Perspectives


Policy, Organization, and Innovation in American Pulp and Paper since 1914: Historical perspectives on contemporary problems

Research Theme: Community

Project Objective Statement: To document the role of government policy in shaping technological change and industry structure in the American pulp and paper industry during the twentieth century.

Project summary:

Drawing on corporate archives, government documents, and interviews with key participants, we aim to trace major technological innovations and shifts in industrial structure under various regulatory regimes. Our investigations focus initially on the role of antitrust in shaping technical change and firm strategy during the first half of the twentieth century. This study will draw extensively on the archives of WESTVACO, the Everest papers, records of major trade associations, and FTC studies and reports. Eventually, it will also incorporate information on forestry and land law, which played a significant role in shaping the geographic migration of the industry. Later, we will move forward in time and also consider the increasing role of environmental policy. This part of our project will make extensive use of interviews in order to document how environmental policies influenced strategy at the level of the firm and the plant. We believe the project will generate several articles and reports and two doctoral dissertations or books, all of which should provide historical perspectives on matters of persistent importance to the pulp and paper industry.


Prof. Steven Usselman, School of History, Technology, and Society, Georgia Institute of Technology

Tel: 404 894-8718


Planned Duration: 3 years; started in Fall 2001


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