Current issue: 56(2)
Under compilation: 56(3)
Companies operate in a nested and complex system where global challenges shape their environments and put pressure on business activities. Systemic understanding of the past and ongoing changes within a national industry help to analyze the global influences and identify phenomena that reshape business collaborations. To address this issue in the case of a forest sector, this study constructs a systemic picture of the historical development of the Finnish pulp and paper industry’s business network and analyzes it qualitatively through the Actors-Resources-Activities framework. Books discussing the history of the Finnish forest industry were used as secondary data, which were analyzed with a theory-based content analysis method. The analysis revealed four development phases during which the network has evolved from rather simple one emphasizing cooperation organizations (1st) to a more complex one with stronger roles of the state and individual influencers (2nd), and then emphasizing export and advocacy associations (3rd), before returning to be rather simple, based around three large multinationals and the EU playing an important role (4th). The industry is concerned about securing its key resources, with varying foci. Research and technological innovation activities play an important role together with cooperative interactions. Overall, actors favor a business-as-usual strategy, which is overruled only by a radical change in the operating environment, leading to notable changes in the network. Thus, a suggestion for all actors within the forest sector is that actively detecting and interpreting change signals in the whole environment can help actors in pursuing sustainable activities.