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Publication: Journal of Forest Products Business Research
Authors: 0
Reference ID: Volume 4, Article No. 4
Publish Year: 2007
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Title: Product Development in the Swedish and Finnish Sawmilling Industry – A Qualitative Study of Managerial Perceptions
The importance of product development in the wood industry has recently been pointed out by several industry experts. Despite this, few studies have investigated actual product development processes in this context. This comprehensive study investigates innovation, specifically product development, in the Swedish and Finnish sawmilling industry . The objective was to create broad, basic knowledge that facilitates further studies of the topic. Data were obtained from interviews with
19 product development managers in 14 sawmilling companies. Industry and market changes, leading to changing customer needs, were found to be the most common driver of product development. Companies commonly started product development projects to increase competitiveness of the product portfolio. However, respondents’ narratives about these projects revealed that they also had
a significant effect on the renewal of the companies’ resources and capabilities. The product development process is described by respondents as informal and flexible and emphasizes testing and feedback procedures. Key factors for success include promotion of entrepreneurship and market orientation, and set up of rapid and informal, yet complete and well-defined development projects led by a strong leader. Respondents mentioned the allocation of competent people specifically to
development work and access to flexible and versatile production equipment as important prerequisites for success. Finally , resource constraints, process uncertainties, weaknesses of the wood material, and structural shortcomings of supply chains to some market segments were identified by respondents as obstacles to product development.

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