Effect of Centrifugal Forces on Cluster Patterns in the Softwood Lumber Industry of the United States
Although previous reports have identified clustering in the secondary wood products industry, there are no previous studies on the factors influencing spatial patterns in the primary wood products sector. This study explores the perceptions of members of the softwood lumber industry in the United States concerning factors driving location and promoting cluster patterns in this particular industry. The analysis builds on the core-periphery framework of New Economic Geography to identify centrifugal and centripetal forces and determines the most salient advantages and disadvantages derived from industry clustering. The most essential location factors are linked to the availability of raw materials and skilled labor. The results of the factor analysis, reinforced by bootstrapping estimation, suggest that centrifugal forces outweigh centripetal forces. Greater dispersive effects of centrifugal forces result in a peripheral primary wood products industry pattern. Clustering of softwood sawmills is perceived as detrimental to this industry segment because it results in higher costs of inputs, congestion, and undesired competition. However, geographical coincidence between primary and secondary wood product manufacturers that fosters collaboration can result in an enhanced competitive industry structure.