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Open AccessArticle

Product Diversification in Sustainability Transition: The Forest-Based Bioeconomy in Finland

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Sustainability Science, School of Energy Systems, LUT University, FI-53851 Lappeenranta, Finland
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Sustainability Science, School of Energy Systems, LUT University, Saimaankatu 11, 15140 Lahti, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3293; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123293
Received: 21 May 2019 / Revised: 6 June 2019 / Accepted: 12 June 2019 / Published: 14 June 2019
The forest-based bioproduct field has diversified into the chemical, medical, energy, nanoproduct, and construction material sectors. This paper argues that forest-based bioeconomy has kept the focus on conventional products and new bioproducts have primarily been developed as extensions to existing product portfolios due to a lock-in mechanism, i.e., a state where an economy gradually locks itself to a dominant market position due to technical interrelatedness, economies of scale, and quasi-irreversibility of investment. The study examines forest-based product transition in the context of lock-in mechanisms through narrative analysis over the past 170 years. A theoretical framework is formulated based on complex system studies and the economics of lock-in mechanisms. The relation between the lock-in mechanisms of the regime and product diversification is described for the forest-based bioeconomy in Finland. The study supports previous findings indicating that interactions occur between the lock-in mechanisms. Furthermore, lock-in mechanisms can have a neutral, adverse, or beneficial effect on product diversification. The paper extends knowledge about the role and functioning of lock-in mechanisms in changing market environments. Recent trends in network development and foreign investment, and their effects on industrial symbiosis and product diversification, is recommendable to consider in future research. View Full-Text
Keywords: sociotechnical transition; systemic transition; forest industry; pulp and paper industry; wood processing; path dependence; lock-in; increasing returns; value addition sociotechnical transition; systemic transition; forest industry; pulp and paper industry; wood processing; path dependence; lock-in; increasing returns; value addition
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Luhas, J.; Mikkilä, M.; Uusitalo, V.; Linnanen, L. Product Diversification in Sustainability Transition: The Forest-Based Bioeconomy in Finland. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3293.

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