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Sustainable green gold? Mapping the plurality of value creation logics and agentic change efforts in the market transformation of the Nordic forestry sector

This three-year research project funded by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) involves three members of the Department of Marketing and Strategy: Suvi Nenonen, Kaisa Koskela-Huotari, and Hans Kjellberg.

The starting point for the project is the evident slowness of the current global efforts to address sustainability challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, despite decades of scientific research and international agreements. The project asks whether this slow progress is partially explained by the limited attention given to pervasive and efficient mechanisms for allocating resources in contemporary societies: markets.

Current sustainability interventions have primarily focused on market regulation and the creation of dedicated marketplaces, as the EU Emission Trading System. However, there are concerns that these two intervention types are underutilizing the power of markets to allocate resources for desired purposes. Thus, there are increasing calls to move from reactive “fixing market failures” to more proactive “shaping markets for sustainability”.

The research project seeks to provide additional insights to inform such market-shaping strategies. First, the project challenges the common misconception that all markets – and all firms in them – operate under a singular “market logic”, and hence that shaping markets for sustainability requires infusing sustainability thinking into this homogeneous and universal market logic. Second, the research seeks to illuminate the overlapping shaping efforts of diverse players – firms, intermediaries, consumers, governments and so forth – to influence how markets develop and the resulting emergent, unpredictable market system dynamics.

The research – expected to run from 2023 to 2025 – will focus on the Nordic forestry sector, where the plurality of value creation logics and shaping efforts is currently highly visible due to the increasing tensions between, e.g., biodiversity, carbon offsets, renewable energy, recreation, and traditional industrial uses of wood.

Theoretically, the research aims to fill an important gap left between the current understanding on how to make individual firms more sustainable and how to shape markets for improved economic – but not environmental or social – outcomes. Practically, the purpose is to provide a toolkit to identify and navigate conflicting value creation logics and shaping efforts that often obstruct needed sustainability transformations.

For further information, please contact Suvi.Nenonen@hhs.se or Kaisa.Koskela.Huotari@hhs.se.