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Corporate responsibility and sustainable competitive advantage in forest-based industry: Complementary or conflicting goals?


  • Li, N.
  • Toppinen, A.


The growing public interest in and global consciousness of environmental and social issues have intensified pressures on forest industry companies in their efforts to effectively balance potentially conflicting stakeholder demands. In this paper, we conceptually analyze corporate responsibility (CR) in forest-based industry by theoretically differentiating between three approaches driving CR: the “trade-off” hypothesis, the “profit-maximizing” corporate responsibility conjecture, and the “corporate social impact” hypothesis. We use a survey of existing studies to assess the current stage of CR adoption in forest-based industry and to form a basis for evaluating the wider importance of CR in business, as well as to formulate hypotheses for future research. In conclusion, companies covered in previous research in this study appear to have adopted CR activities mainly with the profit-maximizing assumption. As the continued growth of ethical markets and socially responsible investment (SRI) presents both a threat and an opportunity for forest industry companies, a lasting case for CR in business could only be made by embracing CR principles with radical changes in the fundamental values, policy principles and operational procedures through double-loop organizational learning.

Suggested Citation

  • Li, N. & Toppinen, A., 2011. "Corporate responsibility and sustainable competitive advantage in forest-based industry: Complementary or conflicting goals?," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 113-123.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:forpol:v:13:y:2011:i:2:p:113-123
    DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2010.06.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wan, Minli & Toppinen, Anne, 2016. "Effects of perceived product quality and Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) on consumer price preferences for children's furniture in China," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 52-67.
    2. Pätäri, Satu & Tuppura, Anni & Toppinen, Anne & Korhonen, Jaana, 2016. "Global sustainability megaforces in shaping the future of the European pulp and paper industry towards a bioeconomy," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 38-46.
    3. Merriam Haffar & Cory Searcy, 2017. "Classification of Trade-offs Encountered in the Practice of Corporate Sustainability," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 495-522, February.
    4. Lehtonen, Olli & Tykkyläinen, Markku, 2014. "Delphi path simulator for unveiling development opportunities in the forest industries by contrasting forest management practices — The case of North Karelia," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 171-185.
    5. Liubachyna, Anna & Secco, Laura & Pettenella, Davide, 2017. "Reporting practices of State Forest Enterprises in Europe," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 162-172.
    6. repec:eee:forpol:v:85:y:2017:i:p1:p:201-215 is not listed on IDEAS


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