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加拿大e-business碩士論文定制,Internet readiness and e-Business adoption ofCanadian value-added wood producers
by Robert A. Kozak1
This study focuses on results of a facsimile survey sent to value-added wood producers across Canada on their levels of Internet
readiness and electronic business (e-Business) adoption. In addition, attitudinal information was collected with respect to companies’willingness to use the Internet as a business tool to facilitate exchange along the supply chain. Findings indicate that, while the useof the Internet is relatively commonplace, the Canadian value-added wood products sector has yet to embrace high level e-Business
tools on a wide scale. However, there is a willingness to do so and results clearly point to the fact that most manufacturers expect theInternet to become increasingly important in the context of day-to-day business applications.

Key words: value-added wood products, Internet, e-Business, e-Commerce

Cette étude se concentre sur les résultats d’un sondage par télécopieur acheminé aux producteurs de bois à valeur ajoutée de tout
le Canada sur leur niveau d’adoption de l’utilisation de l’Internet pour leur commerce électronique. De plus, de l’information sur leurattitude a été recueillie en ce qui a trait à la volonté des entreprises d’utiliser l’Internet en tant qu’outil d’affaires pour faciliter les échanges
le long de la chaîne d’approvisionnement. On relève de ce sondage que, même si l’utilisation de l’Internet est relativement courante,
le secteur canadien des produits de bois à valeur ajoutée se doit encore d’utiliser les outils du commerce électronique sur une grande
échelle. Cependant, il existe une volonté de faire en ce sens et les résultats illustrent clairement que la plupart des manufacturiers croient
que l’Internet deviendra de plus en plus important dans le contexte des applications de commerce au jour le jour.
Mots-clés: produits de bois à valeur ajoutée, Internet, échanges électroniques, commerce électronique
Introduction
It goes without saying that the Internet is fast becoming partof our collective psyche. The business community is by no meansimmune from this seemingly never-ending wave of technologyas it enters into an era that has commonly been dubbed the“new economy.” Despite recent setbacks in the “dotcom”
industry, it is estimated that the volume of Internet-basedelectronic business (e-Business) will exceed one trillion dollarsby 2003, with the vast majority of transactions being
attributed to business between companies, as opposed toconsumer sales (Forrester Research 1999). The term “e-Business,”generally synonymous with “e-Commerce” (electroniccommerce), is difficult to define. At the simplest level, it refersto the use of Internet technologies to support companies’
business activities and functions. More specifically, it encompassesthe provision of extensive information content, diverse
communications services, electronic commerce capabilities and
hosted business applications, to name a few key examples.
Because the Internet and Internet use are so rapidly evolving,
it is difficult to determine current levels of business use.
That said, one recent benchmarking study attempted to characterize
Internet business use with respect to demographics and
behaviour (Clemente 1998). It was estimated that corporate usersaccount for 33% of all Internet users and that, in this context,the Internet is primarily being used for content acquisition, online
research and document exchange. Nearly two-thirds of adultusers of the Internet utilize it for some business purposeswhile one-third use it more than half of the time for thispurpose. While most business users have access to high-speedInternet connections, it is small businesses (less than 100employees) that currently dominate the Internet business landscape,accounting for over 40% of all business users androwing. Mid-size companies—100 to 1000 employees—account for just over 20% of allbusiness users (upward trend),large companies—over 1000employees—account for justless than 30% of all businessusers (downward trend), whilethe remainder is attributed to theemerging home-based businesssector (upward trend).
The fundamental questiondriving this research revolved
around understanding how theforest products industry isadapting to the new economy.
While a great deal of research has been conducted on understandingthis problem in the context of the primary forest
products sector (pulp and paper, lumber, panels, etc.), very littlework has been focussed on better understanding the specific
needs of secondary wood producers. This paper discusses theresults of a survey on Internet use and e-Business adoption sentto over 1000 Canadian value-added wood products manufacturers,
the purpose of which was to quantify their level of Internetreadiness and e-Business adoption.
加拿大e-business碩士論文定制Background
Broadly defined, the term “value-added” refers to wood products
companies that add incremental value to products either
1Assistant Professor, Department of Wood Science, Faculty of Forestry, University
of British Columbia, Forest Sciences Centre, 4041 – 2424 Main
Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4. E-mail: rkozak@interchg.ubc.ca
2Arguably, the term value-added can and should apply to manufacturers of
commodity wood products like dimension lumber and pulp and paper.
While commodity wood producers do little in the way of product differentiation
and/or additional manufacturing, value is intrinsically being added by
each primary processing step. Value—a function of price and perceived benefits—
depends largely on the particular needs and wants of various customer
groups. As a result, the term “value-added” in this paper refers to products
that may yield higher prices, but do not necessarily improve the value of wood
products. It can, for the most part, be interchangeably used with the term “secondary
wood products.”
Robert A. Kozak
MARCH/APRIL 2002, VOL. 78, NO. 2, THE FORESTRY CHRONICLE 297
by primary manufacturing in saw and planing mills (resawing,
surfacing, drying, or otherwise differentiating lumber products)
or by secondary manufacturing in separate processing facilities
(furniture, case-goods, and home systems being some
examples).2 Value-added wood products generally fall under
one of the following categories:
• remanufactured wood products;
• shakes and shingles;
• pallets and boxes;
• fences;
• miscellaneous other products (toys, ladders, etc.);
• engineered wood products;
• mouldings, millwork and floors;
• doors and windows;
• cabinetry;
• furniture; and
• home systems.
The manufacture of value-added wood products accounts for
a large and growing sector in Canada’s economy. Of the 13%
that the forest industry contributes to Canada’s gross domestic
product annually, value-added wood products account for
over one-quarter or CDN $10 billion in shipments, with more
than half of this being accounted for by primary levels of
value-addition (Industry Canada 2001)3. While this is small relative
to the ubiquitous lumber and pulp and paper industries,
it is nonetheless an important sector, accounting for approximately
20% (45 000) of the forestry-related jobs and over half
(1900) of the manufacturing establishments (Industry Canada
2001). Value-added processors tend to be smaller, less capital-
intensive and less rurally based than their primary lumber
producing, upstream cousins. In addition, value-added wood
products manufacturers are among the most profitable enterprises
in Canada’s forest industry, producing a wide range of
products and values (Statistics Canada 1998).
It is also noteworthy that the Canadian value-added sector
is in the midst of a growth surge. Over the last ten years, clear
upward trends can be observed in manufacturing levels for kitchen
cabinets, wooden doors and windows, millwork and mouldings,
and wooden household furniture, to name a few examples (Statistics
Canada 1998). This is due, in no small part, to rapidly expanding
exports as markets in the United States, Japan and Europe
open up. In the last five years, exports of various value-added
wood products have increased at rates of between 25% and 40%.
Despite its growth, the forest products industry has been notably
slow in its adoption of Internet strategies as a means of conducting
business. Unlike other industries that have adopted, implemented
and deployed e-Commerce solutions, it remains to be
seen whether or not the Canadian value-added wood products
sector has embraced information technology (IT) to support its
business functions on a wide scale. Unfortunately, very little
has been done in the way of research pertaining to Internet use
in the forest industry, and specifically amongst value-added wood
producers. One notable exception is the work of Vlosky
(Louisiana State University), who has published numerous papers
on the subject.
In 1997, Vlosky and Fontenot surveyed 364 US forest
products companies from both the primary and value-added sectors
and concluded that Internet use in the forest products
industry was expected to grow rapidly and that companies that
developed an Internet strategy would possess a marked competitive
advantage. While over half of the companies
surveyed had Internet access at the time, only one-third of the
value-added wood producers did. Less than one-third of the wood
producers had a Web site at the time, but of these, more than
half were value-added producers. In addition, many of the companies
that did not have a Web presence seemed averse to the
idea. That said, the study concluded that the most likely users
of the Internet in the forest products industry were either
small companies with less than $1 000 000 in sales or valueadded
wood producers (Vlosky and Fontenot 1997).
The primary uses of the Internet cited in the Vlosky and Fontenot
study were for e-mail, customer contacts and product promotion.
The predominant Internet business application, according
to wood producers, was, and was also expected to be, sales. However,
the researchers found that as company size increased
(especially beyond $1 000 000), the likelihood of using the Internet
to facilitate sales dropped precipitously. In the final analysis,
over half of the companies surveyed were willing to sell goods
over the Internet, but just one-quarter were willing to purchase
goods. Only 10% indicated that they were not willing to participate
in e-Commerce. Other important Internet business applications
for wood producers included the ability to enable product
and price inquiries for customers. The major benefits that wood
producers expected from having a Web presence were customerrelated:
a greater exposure to customers and greater access to
their company by potential customers. These were followed closely
by increased access to vendors, timeliness of information
exchange, and an enhanced image (Vlosky and Fontenot 1997).
Vlosky’s 1999 follow-up study differed somewhat methodologically
in that pulp and paper producers and manufacturers
in Canada were also included. Furthermore, solid wood
producers were not explicitly segmented into primary and
value-added manufacturers (results for pulp and paper and solid
wood producers were reported in aggregate). In total, 207
wood products companies were surveyed from across North
America. Findings indicated that 60% of the companies did not
use the Internet as a means of conducting business at that time.
In addition, over one-half of these respondents stated that
they had no intention of doing so in the near future, although
larger companies were more inclined to adopt Internet technologies
than smaller companies, contradicting Vlosky and Fontenot’s
1997 results somewhat. The majority of those producers that
have embraced e-Business had done so in the three years
prior to the study. However, well over half of the respondents
have invested less than $50 000 for e-Business applications.
Despite some discouraging results, it can be argued that, while
the forest products industry is a laggard industry, it is poised
to adopt Internet business solutions (Vlosky 1999).
In Vlosky’s 1999 study, wood producers that currently had
adopted Internet technology to facilitate business transactions
were asked about the e-Business applications that they use
or will use in the very near future. They cited customer contacts,
Web pages and marketing as the most common uses, followed
by vendor contracts, product promotion, product / price
inquiries and customer sales (these latter two seem to have
decreased in importance since the 1997 study). The primary
benefits of conducting e-Business included increased access
to industry information, timeliness of information exchange,
3While this study does not explicitly deal with value-added production in the
United States, it should be noted that this sector contributes over CDN $50
billion to its economy.
298 MARS/AVRIL 2002, VOL. 78, NO. 2, THE FORESTRY CHRONICLE
greater exposure to potential customers and greater access to
companies by potential customers. On the other hand, wood
producers seem to be acutely concerned with security and the
exchange of sensitive information (Vlosky 1999).
Data from Vlosky’s 1999 study was also used in a 2001 follow-
up by Vlosky and Pitis, which compared e-Business
capabilities of wood products companies in Canada versus the
United States. The study found that businesses in the two
countries are very much alike with respect to Internet use, with
Canadian companies being slightly less concerned with the longrun
potential for the Internet as a commerce tool. Although valueadded
producers were not explicitly surveyed, the results
bode well for the Canadian wood products industry. As of 1998,
94% of the Canadian companies surveyed had implemented some
form of Internet technology, compared to 85% for the United
States. Approximately three-quarters of the Canadian wood producers
surveyed used the Internet to conduct business, compared
to just a little more than one-half in the United States. Of
the companies that did not use the Internet for business purposes,
69% of the Canadian companies planned on doing so in the future,
compared to only 34% in the United States. These results are
confounded somewhat by the fact that Canadian respondent companies
were generally larger than their US counterparts—
most were primary wood producers and panel manufacturers.
That being the case, it is difficult to apply these results to the
value-added wood products sector (Vlosky and Pitis 2001).
As expected, forest industry consultants have also been at the
forefront of conducting research pertaining to e-Business in the
forest products industry. PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC)
indicates that the traditional value chain is rapidly being
replaced by value networks in which e-Business allows companies
to concentrate on their core competencies. The forest products
industry is lagging behind other sectors in this transformation
and needs to quickly respond to these changes. This point resonates
in a PWC study, which ranked the top 100 forest and paper
companies Web sites according to functionality, strategy and
visual impact. Of a possible score of 100, only five companies
rated more than 75 points, while only nine companies rated over
50 points (PriceWaterhouseCoopers 1999). In addition, a related
press release stated that, “The rise of e-Business infomediaries
will fundamentally affect companies revenues and profits
in the near term…The winners in the [forest products]
industry will be companies that can reduce costs and get closer
to customers. E-Business is the vehicle that will help level the
playing field and provide innovative companies the opportunity
to excel.” (PriceWaterhouseCoopers Press Release 2000).
Results from a recent Ernst & Young press release on a survey
of Information Technology in the retail sector are also both
revealing and germane to the wood products sector. Nearly twothirds
of the retail executives (from large corporations) surveyed
believe that e-Commerce is the top priority, while three-quarters
believe business-to-business e-Commerce is a definite priority.
The release goes on to say that, “US retailers are creating
sites for Canadian customers…[which] will directly affect
Canadian sales opportunities.” Given the volumes of Canadian
wood products being sold in “big box” retail outlets, e-Commerce
represents a tremendous opportunity for value-added and
primary wood products manufacturers to gain market access
and maintain or enhance market shares (Ernst & Young Press
Release 1999).
Objectives
The Canadian value-added wood products sector should be
poised to adopt e-Business solutions on a much wider scale and
likely represents an attractive marketplace for IT and e-Commerce
providers. The overall objective of this study is to
determine whether or not the Canadian value-added wood
products industry is ready to adopt and implement electronic
commerce, content and communications solutions as a means
of supporting and enhancing its business activities. Specifically,
this study endeavoured to:
1. examine the current perception, adoption and future uses of
computers and the Internet in the Canadian value-added wood
products sector;
2. determine the current and future use of the Internet in
business applications for the Canadian value-added wood
products sector;
3. gauge the attitudes and beliefs towards the use of the Internet
in business applications amongst Canadian value-added
wood products sector; and
4. determine the Internet readiness of Canadian value-added
wood producers, and based on these results, identify strategies
for hastening the adoption of e-Business solutions.
Methods
In order to meet the research objectives, a facsimile survey
was developed and implemented in late 1999. The sample frame
used was obtained from the Industry Canada (Strategis)
database, the most comprehensive and representative list of Canadian
value-added wood producers available (Industry Canada
1999). Producers engaged in limited value-adding activities like
milling and planing were excluded from the study, leaving a
population total of 1364 value-added producers.
For the purposes of the research, the sample frame (1364 contacts)
was used in its entirety. Given that the survey instrument
was a facsimile questionnaire, contacts without fax numbers
were dropped from the sample frame, leaving a total of 1216
value-added wood producers (key decision-makers in each company).
4 While the population was sampled in its entirety,
inferences must still be made, as this list does not represent all
Canadian value-added wood producers.
A covering letter and facsimile survey were sent out in
November 1999. The covering letter described the research project,
solicited opinions and information from value-added
wood producers and included notice of a draw prize in an attempt
to increase response rates. The survey consisted of three
sections: 1) general company information; 2) computer and Internet
use; and 3) attitudes towards Internet use. Due to time constraints,
limited pre-testing was conducted among academics
and IT professionals. Changes were incorporated into the
final version of the survey, which was faxed to companies on
15 November 1999 (with a cut-off date of 7 December 1999).
Given the time and budgetary constraints involved in faxing
over one thousand four-page surveys, only one version of the
questionnaire was sent out to each of the companies.
4Given that this survey is on technology adoption, there may be concern that
excluding value-added producers without fax machines would systematically
bias the results. However, the companies that were excluded were only
done so because their fax numbers were not easily obtained, and not because
they lacked this technology.
MARCH/APRIL 2002, VOL. 78, NO. 2, THE FORESTRY CHRONICLE 299
Taking into account the companies that were unreachable
by fax (214), the total number of companies that were surveyed
was 1002. Of these, 126 were returned (9 were spoilt) for a total
response rate of 11.7%. This was considered acceptable to make
inferences onto the population of Canadian value-added wood
producers, especially given the fact that there was only one mailout
with no follow-up surveys.
While no follow-up surveys were sent out, response patterns
indicate that little or no non-response bias was present in this
research. In other words, results seem representative of the population
under study and are, consequently, inferable to valueadded
wood producers across Canada. For example, the
regional breakdown of responses (Table 1) echoes the actual
distribution of Canadian value-added wood production, with
high levels of activity in eastern Canada and British Columbia
and moderate levels in emerging sectors like Alberta,
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Similar analyses were carried out on key variables like production
and number of employees and gave no indication of nonresponse
bias. Lastly, surveys were categorized into early
and late responses and key study findings pertaining to computer
and Internet use were compared using a series of two-tailed
t-tests and z-tests (α = 0.05). No statistical differences between
early and late responses could be uncovered, further validating
the assertion that non-response error is not present in the
sample and that inferences onto the population of Canadian valueadded
producers can safely be made.
Results
Results of this Canada-wide market study on Internet use
amongst value-added wood producers in Canada are reported
in five sections. While the facsimile survey consisted of three
distinct sections (general company information, computer
and Internet use and attitudes towards Internet use), results were
collapsed in order to allow for more meaningful conclusions
to emerge. The findings, as they pertain to the Canadian
value-added wood producers, are reported as follows:
• production;
• computers and the Internet;
• Internet use;
• attitudes and beliefs towards Internet use; and
• late versus early adopters of the Internet.
Production
Fig. 1 illustrates the types of wood production that respondent
companies are engaged in. The vast majority of respondents
can be considered lower-level value-addition producers,
manufacturing remanufactured goods (re-sawn, dried, or
surfaced lumber products), mouldings, millwork, flooring,
and miscellaneous other wood products (e.g., toys, signs,
sheds). A fairly large proportion of producers also manufacture
cabinetry—indicative of Canada’s fast growing casegoods
industry. Other higher value wood products like homes
(e.g., modular, log, prefabricated), engineered wood products
(e.g., truss, floor and wall systems, laminated beams) and
doors and windows are also fairly commonplace. Lastly, pallets
and boxes, furniture, fences and shakes and shingles each
accounted for less than 5% of the responses.
More than one-half of the companies surveyed have less than
twenty-five employees, with one-third having between ten and
twenty-five (Fig. 2). An additional one-third employ between
twenty-six and one hundred employees, with the remainder (only
12.8%) employing over one hundred.
Computers and the Internet
Over one-half of the companies surveyed have five or less
computers, with only a negligible proportion not having at least
one. Just less than one-quarter of the respondents have more
Table 1. Distribution of responses by province
Province Response Proportion
Quebec 24.8%
British Columbia 18.8%
Ontario 17.1%
Nova Scotia 10.3%
New Brunswick 7.7%
Saskatchewan 7.7%
Manitoba 6.8%
Alberta 5.1%
Newfoundland 0.9%
Prince Edward Island 0.9%
n = 118
Fig. 1. Production by product
type in surveyed Canadian
value-added wood companies.
300 MARS/AVRIL 2002, VOL. 78, NO. 2, THE FORESTRY CHRONICLE
than ten computers in their plants. Taking firm size into
account (Table 2) shows the expected trend of an increasing
number of computers as firm size increases, to the point where
no firms with more than ten employees have less than ten computers.
Interestingly, firms with less than ten employees are more
likely to have at least one computer than firms with between
ten and twenty-five employees. The majority of firms with between
ten and one hundred employees have less than ten computers
in their facilities.
More than 88% of the companies currently have Internet access
(Fig. 3), with the vast majority having an access speed
of over 28.8K or more and over 40% having an access speed
of 56K or faster. More than one-quarter of the respondents
did not know their Internet access speed, while only 1%
were using out-dated 14.4K technology. For 47.4% of the
respondents, Internet access was through a line dedicated
solely to the Internet, with the remainder (52.4%) sharing
with another device like a telephone or a fax machine. Lastly,
it should be noted that of the approximately 12% of the
respondents who are currently not on-line, 15% and 38%
expected to have Internet access within three months and one
year of receiving the survey, respectively. The remaining
47% (or just under 6% of all survey respondents) did not
know if and when they will adopt this technology. That said,
51.5% of all of the companies surveyed currently have an active
Web site in place.
Internet Use
On average, 5.7 people per company have access to the Internet,
with a minimum of one and a maximum of 50 (yielding
a 95% confidence interval of between 4.1 and 7.3 people per
company). Not surprisingly, Internet use increases with firm
size. The average number of people with access to the Internet
in firms of varying sizes (and the respective 95% confidence
intervals) are: 2.5 ± 0.7 employees in firms employing less than
ten; 3.0 ± 0.6 employees in firms employing between ten and
twenty-five; 4.7 ± 1.4 employees in firms employing between
twenty-five and one hundred; and 17.7 ± 8.1 employees in firms
employing greater than one hundred. It is notable that Internet
access more than triples for firms with more than one hundred
employees.
Over half of the users in the value-added sector access the
Internet less than two hours per week (Fig. 4), with approximately
45% using the Internet less than one hour per week. Just
less than one-third spend more than six hours per week on-line,
with the remaining 10% at between three and six hours. These
results were also segmented by firm size (not shown here); however,
no trends that deviated from the overall averages could
be uncovered. When asked how the company’s Internet use will
change in the next year, 78.4% of the respondents stated that
it would increase, while 21.6% stated that it would stay the same.
No respondents indicated that Internet use would decrease in
the coming year.
When asked what types of business uses value-added wood
producers utilized the Internet for, the overwhelming response
was to conduct on-line research and to exchange documents
with partners (Fig. 5). Communicating with customers through
e-mail and obtaining business and product information also seem
to be key drivers for Internet use. Of lesser importance, though
still significant, are e-mailing with professional associations,
obtaining news, and e-mailing with suppliers and distributors.
Fig. 2. Employment in surveyed Canadian
value-added wood companies.
Table 2. Number of computers in surveyed Canadian value-added wood
companies by company size
Number of Computers (Response
at Firms Proportion)
Firm Size (Number None 1 to 5 6 to 10 More than 10
of Employees):
less than 10 0.0% 92.0% 8.0% 0.0%
10 to 25 5.1% 69.2% 25.6% 0.0%
26 to 100 0.0% 36.8% 31.6% 31.6%
more than 100 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
5Intranets represent a relatively new technology and many of the respondents
may not have known what this term meant. Thus, this result should be
viewed with some caution.
MARCH/APRIL 2002, VOL. 78, NO. 2, THE FORESTRY CHRONICLE 301
Other than the aforementioned business uses, no other clear trend
was noted, with the exception of three business activities that
that are currently not widely practised on the Internet by the
Canadian value-added wood products sector: e-mailing with
employees, purchasing products on-line, and adopting intranet
applications.5
In an attempt to measure and understand the degree to
which business uses of the Internet were associated and
concurrently adopted, a two-tailed Kendall’s tau-b bivariate
correlation analysis (α = 0.05) was performed on the
ordinal data set summarized in Fig. 5. The analysis yielded
several significant correlations between the fifteen input
variables (business uses of the Internet)—only three
variables displayed relatively few significant correlations:
downloading software, e-mailing employees and intranet
applications. Most of the remaining variables were moderately
correlated with each other at between 0.2 and 0.6. This suggests
some concurrent adoption of various business uses of the
Internet, although most of the associations were not very
strong (a score of 1 represents a perfect correlation between two
variables). For example, performing on-line research is moderately
correlated with e-mailing customers, distributors, suppliers
and associations as well as electronic document exchange
(a common use for e-mail). Companies that use the Internet to
purchase products also tend to use this technology to track shipments.
Companies that e-mail their own employees also use the
Internet to enhance their customer service programs. While this
latter correlation seems somewhat spurious, it does make
some sense given that companies that use e-mail as a means
of communication amongst their employees are likely to be larg-
Fig. 3. Internet access of surveyed Canadian value-added wood companies.
Fig. 4. Time spent on the Internet by average
company users in surveyed Canadian valueadded
wood companies.
302 MARS/AVRIL 2002, VOL. 78, NO. 2, THE FORESTRY CHRONICLE
er with more available resources for information technology.
Lastly, the two most highly correlated variables (0.586) were
obtaining news and obtaining business and product information.
This result is not surprising, suggesting that business activities
related to using the Internet as a source of information have
been concurrently adopted.
Attitudes and Beliefs towards Internet Use
In an attempt to gauge the attitudes and beliefs of Canadian
value-added wood producers towards Internet use for business
applications, respondents were asked to indicate their level
of agreement with a number of statements using a standard interval
Likert scale construction (strongly agree, agree, neither agree
nor disagree, disagree, strongly disagree). As this scale approximates
a true interval scale, means were computed and are seen
in Table 3. Statements denoted with an asterisk were statistically
lower than a neutral score of 3 (α = 0.05), which is to say
that the level of agreement for these statements was significant.
Most Canadian value-added wood producers agree with the
fact that the Internet is becoming increasingly important to their
businesses. Furthermore, they would use the Internet more often
if their suppliers and customers were on-line, or if they were
able to locate more customers. In general, value-added wood
producers would use the Internet more often if it had more information
relevant specifically to the wood industry, customers
and/or suppliers. There seems to be a reasonable comfort
level associated with carrying out transactions on the Internet
and a desire to enable such business solutions. However, the
results also clearly indicate that, to date, the Internet has not,
by and large, increased their respective customer and supplier
bases. While no other clear conclusions could be drawn beyond
these findings, Table 2 does unquestionably illustrate that, in
general, Canadian value-added wood producers are favourable
to Internet usage as a means of conducting various levels of business
activities.
Fig. 5. Business uses of the Internet currently adopted by surveyed Canadian value-added wood companies.
Table 3. Attitudes and beliefs towards Internet use amongst surveyed
Canadian value-added wood companies (expressed as average agreement
level to the following statements, where 1 = strongly agree, 3 = neutral
and 5 = strongly disagree)
The Internet has increased my supplier base. 3.08
The Internet has increased my customer base. 3.07
I feel comfortable buying products like books on the Internet. 2.48 *
The Internet will be used to increase my supplier base. 2.48 *
I would like to sell more products directly to customers 2.43 *
using the Internet.
If the Internet had more information relevant specifically to 2.31 *
suppliers, I would use it more.
The Internet will be used to increase my customer base. 2.30 *
If the Internet had more information relevant specifically to 2.26 *
customers, I would use it more.
If the Internet had more information relevant specifically to the 2.14 *
wood industry, I would use it more.
If all of my suppliers were on the Internet, I would use it more. 2.04 *
If I can find customers using the Internet, I would use it more. 1.92 *
If all of my customers were on the Internet, I would use it more. 1.88 *
The Internet will become more important to my business in the 1.84 *
next few years.
* = significantly lower than a neutral score of 3 (α = 0.05)
MARCH/APRIL 2002, VOL. 78, NO. 2, THE FORESTRY CHRONICLE 303
Late versus Early Adopters of the Internet
In an attempt to better understand the aggregate results of
this research, responding firms were segmented into what
could loosely be defined as early adopters of Internet technology
(companies with active Web sites—51.5%) and late adopters
of Internet technology (companies that currently do not have
a Web site—48.5%). Key variables from each segment (production,
number of employees, number of computers) were analyzed
and are summarized in Tables 4 and 5. These results allow
key differences between early and late Internet adopters in the
value-added wood products sector to emerge.
For instance, in terms of production, some sectors of the valueadded
wood products industry are clearly ahead of others in adopting
Internet solutions (Table 4). Manufacturers of homes,
mouldings, millwork, flooring, and engineered wood products,
are clearly information technology leaders in this industry,
followed by manufacturers of cabinetry, doors and windows.
Conversely, sectors which produce lower priced goods like remanufactured
wood products, miscellaneous wood products, pallets,
boxes, fences and shingles are laggards. Curious in this analysis
is the low rate of Internet adoption by the furniture
industry, which manufactures arguably some of the highest-value
consumer goods in the wood products sector. This anomaly may
be attributed, in part, to the many mature, entrenched distributor
and retailer relationships that currently exist in this
sector and the perception that electronic marketplaces may be
superfluous.
An analysis of the number of employees and computers that
value-added wood producers have (Table 5) shows decisively
that early adopters in this industry tend to be larger and devote
more resources to information technology. The majority of firms
surveyed with more than twenty-five employees have a Web
presence and are categorized as early adopters, while the
opposite is true for firms with twenty-five employees or less.
The same trend is seen for companies with more than five computers
at their disposal, especially as the number of computers
increases beyond ten. In terms of employees’ ability to go
on-line, on average, 6.7 ± 2.3 employees (95% confidence interval)
have access to the Internet in early adopter companies, while
4.7 ± 2.3 employees (95% confidence interval) have access in
late adopter companies. While a difference is noted, it is not
statistically significant at the α = 0.05 level. In other words, the
presence of a company Web site currently has little or no
bearing on how many employees have access to the Internet
at work.
Discussion
Many key findings have emerged from this market study on
the state of Internet readiness and e-Business adoption in the
Canadian value-added wood products sector. It is noteworthy
that many of the results clearly point to an industry that has not
yet adopted electronically based business solutions. Companies
are currently in what could best be described as a “wait and
see” or “anticipatory” stage with regards to Internet and e-Business
applications. However, they are favourable to the use of
the Internet as a means of conducting business. This may be
in the form of B2B (business-to-business) solutions, in which
the Internet is used to facilitate and intermediate transactions
between companies at the industrial level or B2C (businessto-
consumer) solutions, in which the Internet is used as a
communicational and transactional medium between companies
selling goods to consumers.
Certainly, a culture exists within the Canadian value-added
wood products sector that is conducive the adoption of
e-Business solutions. Most value-added wood producers have
at least one computer in their facility, with over half having less
than five at their disposal. The vast majority of manufacturers
currently have Internet access, with many having state-of-theart
access speeds, dedicated lines and multiple users. Perhaps
most telling is the fact that just over half of the value-added wood
producers surveyed have active Web sites in place. An informal
survey of current Web sites revealed that they are primarily
being used as a means of increasing visibility and providing timely
information to their customers through brochure ware /
advertising—not one responding value-added wood producer
with a Web site that currently facilitates and enables financial
transactions could be found. While it can be assumed that
very few value-added wood producers expect not to have a Web
presence in the near future, it has been estimated they presently
spend less than $10 000 per year on information technology—
not nearly enough to deploy an active e-Commerce
solution and maintain a highly regarded Web presence (Kozak
and McKinnon 2000). It is notable that companies that produce
higher priced custom wood products (homes, cabinetry, mouldings,
millwork, flooring, etc.) are more likely to have a Web
presence than producers of lower value commodity goods. This
trend also applies to larger companies.
In general, the Canadian value-added wood products sector
has not yet taken advantage of what the Internet can offer with
respect to improved business efficiencies along the supply chain.
However, three-quarters of the value-added wood producers
surveyed agreed that they would be using the Internet more frequently
in the future to conduct business. Currently, the most
common uses of the Internet for business applications among
value-added wood producers are for conducting on-line
research and exchanging documents with partners, followed
by communicating with customers and obtaining product and
business information (the Internet is cited as one of the most
common sources of information). The least common uses
include e-mailing employees, purchasing products on-line
and adopting intranet solutions. Many of these business activities
have been adopted concurrently—the use of the Internet
for e-mailing and information retrieval, for example.
It is noteworthy that these results are largely in keeping with
data compiled for all business sectors (Clemente 1998). In order,
the most common Internet business applications across all
sectors include conducting on-line research, sending and
Table 4. Early versus late adopters amongst the surveyed Canadian
value-added wood companies by product type
Production Early Adopters Late Adopters
remanufactured products 33.3% 66.7%
cabinetry 57.1% 42.9%
mouldings, millwork and floors 64.7% 35.3%
miscellaneous other products 50.0% 50.0%
homes 78.6% 21.4%
engineered wood products 63.6% 36.4%
doors and windows 55.6% 44.4%
pallets and boxes 0.0% 100.0%
furniture 20.0% 80.0%
fences 33.3% 66.7%
shakes and shingles 0.0% 100.0%
304 MARS/AVRIL 2002, VOL. 78, NO. 2, THE FORESTRY CHRONICLE
receiving business e-mail, obtaining news, downloading software
(especially for small companies), exchanging software
(excluding small companies), exchanging documents (excluding
small companies), e-mailing with professional associations,
obtaining business product information, e-mailing with employees
(excluding small companies), and intranet applications (especially
large companies). Canadian value-added producers
differ from these industry benchmarks in that they seem to place
a great deal more importance on customer, supplier and distributor
e-mail, and less importance on other business-related
e-mail. In addition, obtaining news and downloading software
is of lesser importance to value-added wood producers, while
obtaining business and product information and exchanging documents
with partners is of greater importance. Finally,
e-mailing employees within organizations, Internet customer
service, purchasing products on-line and intranet applications
are not at all common.
The Canadian value-added wood products sector is characterized
by a high degree of competition and fragmentation. They
manufacture a wide range of goods, from remanufactured
lumber products to high-end furniture and homes. However,
with the exception of cabinetry, the most commonly produced
goods in Canada tend to be low-level value-addition products
like remanufactured lumber products, mouldings, millwork
and flooring. In addition, they generally have broad customer
bases, concentrated primarily in North America. That said, there
does seem to be a reliance on personal networks and entrenched
partnership arrangements with a narrow base of primary producers,
downstream distributors and retailers. In short, Canadian
value-added wood producers have many of the attributes
of a sector at the verge of adopting Internet business solutions
on a wide scale.
However, Canadian value-added wood producers tend to be
small and labour-intensive, with more than half having less than
twenty-five employees. This presents a serious hurdle with respect
to the adoption of Internet business solutions. Many producers
simply do not have the resources available to build and maintain
e-Commerce solutions in-house. Fortunately, one model
for the new economy that is rapidly gaining momentum is the
third-party vertical Internet portal. Many such portals exist in
the solid wood industry6, but few are devoted to providing B2B
solutions between the primary and value-added wood industries.
The Canadian value-added wood products sector represents
a prime market opportunity for a sophisticated vertical
Internet portal providing content, communication and commerce
services. It is serendipitously positioned at the nucleus of the
forest products value chain, with a narrow group of primary wood
producers / suppliers feeding into production and a much
wider net of distributors / retailers occurring downstream.
There appears to be a definite need for a centrally administered
on-line source of market information. In addition, producers
are currently looking for new ways of communicating more efficiently
and effectively with the many actors in the supply chain
(including end-users). Lastly, manufacturers seem amenable
to exploring electronic commerce possibilities and opportunities
with their customers.
In fact, the realm of possibilities with respect to e-Business
strategies is virtually limitless. Sophisticated Internet portals
all offer some level of commerce, communication, and content
provision. In addition, brochure ware and advertising, credit
mechanisms, searchable databases, information security features,
access to shared inventories, automatic re-ordering,
supply chain management, new market development, various
transactional models (from direct sales to auctions), market information,
and human resources tools are a few examples of
common applications in the new economy. The third-party portal
allows these tools and applications to be easily accessed, even
by small value-added wood products companies with limited
IT budgets.
Lastly, it should also be noted that, while this research was
not conducted on value-added wood producers in the United
States, many of the results could be extrapolated due to similarities
in industry structure, production and consumption. Furthermore,
due to the unique position of the value-added wood
industry within the wood products value-chain, this research
provides a solid foundation and context for further studies within
the wood industry; most notably in the lumber and the
panel sectors, but also in the areas of intermediation, specification
and retail. In fact, the appropriate strategy for hastening
the adoption of Internet technologies amongst
value-added wood producers would be to “bring them along”
somewhat by demonstrating the benefits of e-Business all
along the value chain. In other words, if their customers and
suppliers were using on-line business tools, the likelihood of
adoption would undoubtedly increase.
A Comment on Study Limitations
Research relating to the adoption of the Internet and electronically
based business practices is complicated by the rapid
rate at which the new economy is evolving. As such, the findings
of this study, based on a survey conducted in late 1999,
should be viewed with some caution—the data reported here
are dated and may, in some instances, lack relevance in an abruptly
changing world. In 1999, the Internet held both promise and
mystery for businesses, while in 2001, the reality of having to
deploy tangible but profitable electronic business solutions has
set in. That all said, studies on Internet readiness and e-business
adoption of Canadian value-added wood producers are few
and far between. At the very least, this work provides useful
benchmark information and a historical perspective on how the
new economy has impacted an important and growing economic
sector of Canada at a critical juncture in its growth. More importantly,
it forms a basis for future studies on Internet adoption
in the Canadian value-added wood products sector.
Table 5. Average proportions of employees and computers for early versus late adopters in the surveyed Canadian value-added wood companies
Number of Employees Early Adopters Late Adopters Number of Computers Early Adopters Late Adopters
less than 10 45.0% 55.0% none 0.0% 100.0%
10 to 25 43.2% 56.8% between 1 and 5 39.3% 60.7%
26 to 100 60.6% 39.4% between 6 and 10 60.9% 39.1%
more than 100 66.7% 33.3% more than 10 74.1% 25.9%
6TALPX.com, forestexpress.com, iLumber.com, forestindustry.com,
eWood.com, to name a few examples.
MARCH/APRIL 2002, VOL. 78, NO. 2, THE FORESTRY CHRONICLE 305
Conclusion
With its abundance of high-quality fibre and its proximity
to massive markets, the Canadian value-added sector is uniquely
positioned to become a global market leader in the production
and sale of wood products. However, with its modest attitudes
towards the adoption of Internet technology and e-Business
initiatives, this sector may best be characterized as a “late majority”
or perhaps even a “laggard.” This can be seen as both a
drawback and an opportunity. On one hand, the adoption of Internet
technologies to facilitate exchange will require a paradigm
shift to a certain degree. On the other hand, the value-added wood
products sector seems willing to adopt Internet solutions and,
in fact, the argument can be made that they must do so
quickly in order to remain competitive in an industry that is becoming
more and more aggressive in the acquisition and maintenance
of customers. Add to this the trend towards electronic
retailing, and the need for wood products companies to incorporate
Internet solutions in this sector becomes crucial.
In the final analysis, the question still remains: “are Canadian
value-added wood producers ready to adopt Internetbased
strategies for conducting business?” This market study
has decisively shown that there has been no widespread adoption
of e-Business solutions in this sector. However, the upside
is that there is a general feeling that the new economy is fast
approaching and companies seem to be bracing themselves for
that eventuality by gearing up from a technological point of view.
Although current IT expenditures are low, they do nonetheless
appear on balance sheets. This can only be taken as a positive
sign, especially in light of the fact that there already exists a
fairly healthy “computer culture” among value-added wood producers,
especially higher value wood producers and larger firms,
many of whom already have Web sites in place. That said, success
will largely depend on whether or not Canadian value-added
wood producers view the adoption of Internet-based business
solutions as being a worthwhile endeavour in terms of
increased profits, expanded markets, improved supply chain
efficiencies, and so on. In light of the current economic climate,
this may prove to be a formidable and challenging task.
Acknowledgements
The author wishes to thank the team at Vertico Networks,
Inc. for their guidance and funding of this research project.
References
Clemente, P.C. 1998. State of the Net – The New Frontier. McGraw-
Hill, New York, New York. 179 p.
Ernst & Young. 1999. Ernst & Young Releases 18th Annual IT Survey.
Toronto, October 27, 1999.
Forrester Research. 1999. <http://www.forrester.com/Home/
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Industry Canada – Strategis. 1999. <http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/SSG/
gi00025e.html>.
Industry Canada – Strategis. 2001. <http://strategis.ic.gc.ca>.
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Use Amongst Canadian Value-Added Wood Producers. Prepared
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Statistics Canada. 1998. <http://www.statcan.ca>.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 1999. Global Forest & Paper Industry
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industry: current status and projected trends. Forest Products Journal
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<标题> Chron. 77(1): 91–95.

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