A Cooperative in Global Competition

Cooperative Forest Industry Corporation Metsä Group 1984–2014
(2010–2014)

paperin_painajainen

Paperin painajainen (Siltala 2015) by Sakari Siltala

The project studies the Finnish cooperation in cooperative capitalism. It concentrates on the relations between cooperative, private, and state-owned big business, government, political parties, bank spheres, and interest groups.

The empirical focus is on the cooperative forest industry corporation Metsä Group (formerly Metsäliitto), which went through a phase of rapid expansion and internationalization in the late 80´s and 90´s. The Groups cooperative form and agrarian nature, background and ownership stood in opposition to the expansion. The research studies the tensions between Metsä Groups domestic roots and international branches. The dichotomy between competition and cooperation in Finnish economy and business life is also a target of analysis.

The time span of the project 1984–2014 comprises an unprecedented economic boom followed by a slump. During the severe recession the Finnish economic system went through some fundamental structural changes. The 1980´s came about the opening of the Finnish economy to foreign capital, the dissolution of strict governmental regulation, and accelerated consolidation and mergers. The 1990´s brought the downfall of the USSR and end of clearing-trade, European integration and EU-membership, tightening competition policies and the contraction of traditional corporatism. And the 21st century showed increasing globalization, hyper-competition and investor-driven capitalism. These developments had groundbreaking effects on the once sovereign industrial sector, the forest industry. The business had to reassess its role in Finnish society. The cooperative Metsä Group balanced in the center of these radical changes and conflicting forces, i.e. between cooperation and competition, international markets and domestic producer-ownership.

The project is partly based on three previous projects: Cooperation, Competition and Capitalism: Development of Agrarian Cooperative Movement 1899–1999, Pellervo-Seura (1995–1999), Big Business, Small Nation: The Political Economy of the Finnish Forest Industries (2002–2008) and Business Elite – Roots and Roles in Modern Society: The Finnish Case in the European Context 1750–2000 (2008–2012).

The project produces two publications: Paperin painajainen, a monograph on the developments of Metsä Group 1984–2014 (Keskisarja, Kuisma, Siltala) and a doctoral thesis “Puu-valion nousu ja uho” by Sakari Siltala focusing on cooperative capitalism and roundwood markets 1983–2003 (Siltala).

Research group: Teemu Keskisarja, Markku Kuisma, Sakari Siltala

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