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Doctoral thesis, 2015

Forest owners' associations in a changing society

Kronholm, Thomas


In recent decades structural changes in the forestry sector have changed forest owners’ characteristics and thus the member base of forest owners’ associations. More general social trends have also changed how individuals and organizations interact with each other. A major challenge for the forest owners’ associations is thus to adapt their service offers and organizational structures to fit the needs of current and future members. The objective of the project this thesis is based upon was to examine processes that are shaping the future membership of forest owners’ associations in Sweden and identify elements that are likely to affect their relationships with members and (hence) their cooperative nature. To meet this objective, the issue was addressed from different angles and organizational levels in studies reported in four appended papers. Paper I showed that renewal of district councils is a slow process in which election committees play a central role. However, they were found to act passively and select candidates from narrow pools, which restrict the councils’ representativeness and raises risks of strategic misalignment with members’ interests as it severely limits inputs from several user groups in decision-making processes. Paper II showed that in order to meet the changing member needs the organizations are currently focusing their strategic efforts on developing new services to support members’ management activities and ownership issues, improve education offers, and become strong political actors. Paper III showed that members who had traded timber with the association displayed significantly higher affective commitment, but not calculative commitment, than both non-members and members who had traded with other organizations. Thus, the findings suggest that the associations should focus on communicating their core values and strengthening members’ identification with the organization, as this will have stronger effects on their loyalty than fostering calculative relationships. Paper IV provides support for the findings in Paper II, showing that young adults generally have limited familiarity with forestry activities. Further they rarely discussed forest issues with their parents. Thus they did not feel comfortable in discussing their own future as potential forest owners since they lacked understanding of the personal implications for them in practice. A key highlighted finding is that the main challenges for the organizations are connected to their democratic governance processes.


cooperative; membership; family forest owner; member relationship; reproductive perspective; commitment

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2015, number: 2015:102
ISBN: 978-91-576-8402-8, eISBN: 978-91-576-8403-5
Publisher: Department of Forest Resource Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Business Administration

URI (permanent link to this page)