Abstract: The Making of a Green Innovation System: The Swedish Institute for Water and Air Protection and the Swedish Pulp and Paper Industry from the Mid-1960s to the 1980s

Ann-Kristin Bergquist and Kristina Söderholm


In this paper, we address the issue of organizational networks and the diffusion of green knowledge within the Swedish pulp and paper industry (P&P) from the mid-1960s to the 1980s. During this period, the Swedish P&P underwent a period of rapid environmental improvements. Our case demonstrates that the environmental adaptation of this line of business cannot be understood from merely a corporate focus—that is, as something accomplished by single firms or industries simply as a response to environmental regulation. By employing an innovation system approach, we find that the knowledge and technology development underpinning environmental adaptation within the Swedish P&P has involved a network of diverse actors. In this context, the semi-governmental Institute for Water and Air Protection (IVL) and its service company held important roles as intermediaries of knowledge within the network, not the least because of IVL's position "in between" government and industry. We suggest that one of the many important challenges for future research should be to compare how different national institutional settings have shaped the formation of "green" innovation systems. This would beneficially include national features of corporate stakeholder relations, as these influence firms' interplay with other firms as well as with other actors in the innovation system.