Chemical Suppliers’ Perspectives and Impact on Innovation in the Wood Treating Industry
Recent challenges to forest sector firm competitiveness have driven interest in innovation to create a competitive advantage. Suppliers are a major source of innovation for forest sector firms, yet little study has been done on their role in the innovation process. Using a qualitative case study approach, we explore how chemical companies perceive innovation in the wood treating industry and how they feel they impact innovation among wood-treating firms. Our findings indicate that chemical company managers view the wood-treating industry as conservative and not particularly innovative. Additionally, retailers play a hampering and directing role regarding innovation in the industry. Chemical company managers feel that they have an important impact on innovation within their customer firms, partially because they see limited possibilities for differentiating wood products without value-added additions, such as chemical treatments. Currently, various mechanisms for coloring wood products, along with standard chemical treatments, are the focus of innovation efforts. Chemical company managers also view their role with customers as a problem-solver, providing a package of benefits following the total product concept. Finally, strong relationships between chemical suppliers and key innovative customers play an important role in creating and implementing innovations in the industry.
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