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An Evaluation of Public Research in Three Forest Products Industries

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This paper follows an earlier assessment of softwood plywood research by evaluating public research in the sawmill, woodpulp, and wood preservatives industries. Together, these are a sufficiently broad group of forest product industries to enable generalizations about the merit of public forest products research. The general econometric results for the three additional industries are at least as satisfying as those in the broader research evaluation literature. Public research in each of the four industries returned a net social gain for the 1950-1980 period of our examination. Large consumer gains and producer gains that are either negative (sawmills, woodpulp, wood preservatives), or divided among too many firms to enable private profitability (sawmills, SWPW), or nonmarket and environmental (wood preservatives, perhaps woodpulp), justify the public role in each industry. There is some suggestion, however, that politically encouraged research activities have not paid off. Our summary policy statement is that public research managers, particularly at the Forest Products Laboratory, when allowed their own judgment, have made socially beneficial decisions. For. Sci. 37(2):669-687.

Keywords: Research and development; research evaluation; technical change

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Branch Chief, Economics Research Service, Washington, DC

Publication date: June 1, 1991

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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