Structure and developments in the solid wood value chain : dominant saw milling strategies and industrialized housing
Sammanfattning: The study, using a combination of a qualitative case study and archival study approach, aims at describing and analyzing the development in the solid wood value chain i.e. sawn timber products, dominant Swedish saw milling strategies, and industrialized housing. The background to the study is the increasingly dynamic environment fundamentally affecting how actors in the solid wood value chain identify strategic resources and assets formulating and implementing their strategies. This dynamic is particularly evident in the housing construction market, where recent changes in construction norms have introduced new process and production concepts such as lean and agile thinking placing different and sometimes new demands on suppliers of sawn timber products. To understand what is required of a future reliable supplier of sawn timber products in an industrialized housing concept, and creating a sustainable competitive advantage vis-à-vis competing saw milling industries, a conceptual terminology for this understanding has to be established. This terminology is in this study built on the strategy process linking the development of the solid wood value chain i.e. an outside-in perspective from the positioning theorists, to the interpretation and creation of core competences and capabilities in the Swedish saw milling industry i.e. an inside-out perspective from the resource-based theorists. Results indicate that dominant strategies in the saw milling industry are becoming more market oriented but still emphasising operational effectiveness in areas like procurement and production. Furthermore, increasing emphasis on complementary services such as distribution, technical and marketing sales support to the physical products can be distinguished. The study indicates that there is no single "best" strategy, and that the realized dominant strategies are dependent on how companies identify their competences finding markets fitting these competences to establishing competitive advantage. Regarding the potential of saw milling companies in becoming reliable and long-term important suppliers of sawn timber products in an industrialized housing concept, the study indicates that companies with a decentralized structure and informal decision-making, already involved in the construction industries are the "first wave" companies. These companies are actively focusing their resources and competences towards construction industry finding ways to move further down the value chain. The "second wave", is made up of those companies already pursuing a differentiation strategy towards the construction industry. These companies are the larger corporations predominantly involved in the wood products industry, with centralized structure with spanning functions, formal decision making in R&D and knowledge creation, and operating in a number of markets. Further research should aim at improving the proposed conceptual terminology by studying saw milling industries in other countries. Furthermore, the issue of "first" and "second" wave saw milling companies becoming sawn timber products suppliers in an industrialized housing concept, should be studied on an European and global level establishing the different requirements placed by construction industries.
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