Harry William Nelson

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Mar 2019)
How corporate social responsibility affects firms’ strategic decisions : examining links among corporate social responsibility, vertical integration, and new product introductions (2018)

Firms seek competitive advantages either through cost leadership or product differentiation strategies. Cost leadership may be achieved by shifting away from vertical integration (VI) to vertical de-integration through outsourcing that often results in significant cost and flexibility gains. Product differentiation can be achieved through new product introductions (NPI) that can help firm enter new markets and meet changing consumer needs. However, modern firms not only face pressure to be competitive, but also to be socially responsible. As firms increasingly incorporate corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their operations, a key question emerges about the effect of CSR on fundamental strategic decisions related to vertical integration (VI) and new product introductions (NPI). The primary aim of this thesis is to address this question. Toward that end, the thesis is divided into three main sections described below.First, it takes stock of the extant literature on VI, especially because this construct has grown in numerous disparate directions that has led not only to conceptual ambiguity, but also rendered a bewildering array of empirical findings. The first section of this thesis, therefore, synthesizes VI literature before analyzing the effect of CSR on VI. In contrast, NPI -the other construct used in this thesis- is relatively well understood and hence the NPI based empirical section does not need a theoretical precursor. The second section comprises an examination of the link between CSR and VI. Consistent with transaction costs economics theory, panel data regression results show that higher CSR performance is associated to higher VI. In other words, socially responsible firms tend to vertically integrate, i.e., outsource less. The third section comprises the analysis of the link between CSR engagement and NPI. In this section, I consider CSR as a multidimensional construct that bundles multiple and even dissimilar activities together. Drawing on the knowledge based view of the firm, panel data regression results show that while discretionary activities concerning environmental and social engagement (labeled as informal CSR) directly and positively affect the rate of NPI, compliance-oriented corporate governance activities (labeled as formal CSR) do not directly affect the rate of NPI.

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The influence of markets and culture on the use of native forests in the south of Chile (2017)

Chile´s native forests are one of the world´s 25 priority conservation ecoregions due to their high levels of endemism. These forests have been strongly disturbed by human activities in the past, which has resulted in high levels of deforestation and forest degradation. In Chile, 70% of forests are in private lands, so their fate depends on landowners´ decisions. Current knowledge about factors influencing these decisions is limited. In this research I analyzed (a) the cause-effect relationship between firewood production and deforestation/forest degradation, (b) the underlying drivers of timber extraction and livestock browsing, and their joint pressure on forests, and (c) the influence of culture on the use of forests. 315 surveys with landowners were performed in the Los Rios Region in two field campaigns, one in 2012 (pre-sampling) and the other in 2013 (sampling). I also carried out 173 economic games to measure both time and risk behaviors. I found that the decision to produce commercial firewood depends on native forest cover (%), the proportion of off-farm income (%), and an additional eight variables, which create contexts where firewood is either a permanent component of the productive system, or only a secondary activity (non-permanent). Firewood production was not found to be the primary driver of deforestation and only in some specific contexts there was evidence that it could be related to forest degradation. Moreover, livestock over-browsing has a higher impact on forests than timber extraction. While forest overharvesting is largely restricted to very specific contexts of low schooling and availability of off-farm incomes, and can present inter-annual fluctuations, forest over-browsing is a permanent structural driver. The total pressure on forests not only depends on farm size, but also on the balance between different land uses. More balanced farms show a lower pressure on forests. From a cultural standpoint, the three cultural groups that were compared show differences in terms of time and risk behaviors, which in turn influence the use of forests. Time and risk behaviors affect consumption rates (timber extraction) and investments in new tree plantations, which can replace native forests in supplying markets, preventing further degradation.

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Growing Deer Roots: Learning from the Essipit's Culturally Adapted Model of Aboriginal Forestry (2014)

No abstract available.

Master's Student Supervision (2010-2017)
Assessing the impact of policies and regulations on log supply : a British Columbia case study (2016)

British Columbia is one of the major log producers in Canada and is somewhat unique compared to the rest of the world since the majority of its forests are publicly owned. Log supply is the key underlying economic driver in the performance of British Columbia’s wood-products industry. Despite its importance, little work has been done recently to analyze it. Moreover, there have been significant changes in markets and policies in the past decade that needs to be addressed in these analysis. This research investigates the impacts of government policies and market changes on British Columbia`s log supply. The objectives of this research are (1) to develop a log supply model for British Columbia regions (coast and interior) and (2) to identify relationships between government and market factors and log supply. Monthly time-series data from 2000 to 2013 were used to develop regional regression models for log supply. These models take into account differences in log quality as well as log prices, cost of labour, seasonality, and policy. The methodology used in this research is based on developing simultaneous equations models where the price is endogenously determined at the intersection of the demand and supply models. Two Stage Least Square (2SLS) method is used to estimate the models. The results showed that log supply is elastic in the coast region and inelastic in the interior. Own price elasticity was significant in all regions with respect to different grades except for the low grade logs in the interior. Changes in policy impacted the log supply and harvest levels in BC. These changes in the policy included the elimination of minimum harvest levels and introducing take or pay policy. Costs and other market factors such as wage and log export price impacted log supply but the effect differs based on the region and log quality. Seasonality is the other factor impacting log supply in all regions and for all log types.

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Assessing the keys and barriers to success in the value-added wood product manufacturing sector : a multiple-case study analysis of small and medium-sized enterprises (2013)

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the value-added forest products sector play an important role, both socially and economically, in forest dependent communities across Canada, yet the long-touted potential of the sector has not been attained. An assessment of the success factors as well as the barriers to success for SMEs operating in the value-added forest products sector is a key step in ensuring that firms operating in the sector, as well as policy makers at various levels of government are better informed. This will allow the firms in the sector to leverage their strengths and address their weaknesses in order to have a strong contingent of successful value-added forest product SMEs vital to sustaining community wealth. The study is conducted through an in-depth examination of four SMEs in the value-added wood products sector in British Columbia. The four cases represent different types of businesses with varying levels of performance. The results of the study indicate that management skills, access to skilled labour, access to fibre supply, and access to financial capital are fundamental success factors. The entrepreneurs and industry experts involved in the study suggest that for British Columbia’s value-added forest products sector to prosper, the development of management skills and skilled labour requires greater attention. Consequently, increases in the level of investment in skilled labour training and management skill development options that are easily accessible to entrepreneurs in rural communities, in conjunction with the provision of timber at a scale and means that is more suited to small and medium-sized value-added firms were suggested as means to reduce barriers to success faced by SMEs in the value-added sector.

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Barriers and drivers to sustainability in small to medium sized businesses in the value added wood sector (2012)

There is currently very limited research on how firms incorporate sustainability into their business strategies and practices in the secondary wood industry. There is equally limited research on how small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) approach sustainability; most of the research on sustainability in business attempts to paint an overall picture of issues for large multinational enterprises (MNEs), failing to recognize issues related to SMEs. The research generalizes how large firms define and implement sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies without taking into account that an SME may not respond in the same way. One of the research needs is to understand how SMEs more generally define sustainability and the barriers and drivers for sustainability. One important research outcome from investigating sustainability in the secondary wood industry is more understanding of how SMEs respond to sustainability and tools and strategies for sustainability in this important business sector. This research is a survey-based project looking at barriers and drivers to sustainability in small to medium sized businesses in the value-added wood sector in Canada. Results indicated that the barriers and drivers for SMEs are similar to those for MNEs and are consistent with much of the literature. The top drivers for this sector were: mission of the company, environmental concern, competitive advantage and vision of the founder and the top barriers were cost, and time. The least important barrier was no known business benefit suggesting that SMEs have begun to understand the value of implement responsible business practices. Results suggest that further research be conducted in this field to gain a better understanding on how to help SMEs implement more sustainable business practices. The findings in this study also suggest ways in which to better survey the SME sector in the future.

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Climate change : assessing the adaptive capacity of community forests (2012)

Community Forests Organizations (CFOs) have been developed in British Columbia (BC) to manage forests according to the needs and desires of local communities and First Nations in forest dependent regions, in order to maximise the economic, social and environmental benefits of forestry. The effects of climate change in many of these regions are expected to be significant, and likely to have a detrimental effect on the health of the forests and communities. However, there are practical steps that CFOs can take which may improve their ability to cope with future conditions such as planting different species, practicing different silvicultural techniques and increasing monitoring and observation of the forest . This study is concerned with what CFOs need to have in place to take these steps. 'Adaptive capacity' is a term used to describe an ability to adjust to change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Adger et al. 2007), adaptive capacity depends upon access to natural, physical, economic, human and social capital, as well as enabling guiding values. This study aims to measure and describe each of the components of adaptive capacity in the CFOs in order to ascertain which of these factors are present in more adaptive organisations and may reveal something about the process of adaptation. Describing the nature of adaptive capacity in CFOs could inform policy development in climate change adaptation by both assessing what current capabilities exist in the sector and suggesting potential areas for development.

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Recent Tri-Agency Grants

The following is a selection of grants for which the faculty member was principal investigator or co-investigator. Currently, the list only covers Canadian Tri-Agency grants from years 2013/14-2016/17 and excludes grants from any other agencies.

  • Assessing economic, policy, and institutional barriers to successful forest restoration in the interior Douglas-fir zone - Industrial Research and Development Internship (IRDI) Program - Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) - (2015/2016)
  • Aboriginal business and collaboration(abc) in forestry - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) - Partnership Development Grants (2013/2014)

Current Students & Alumni

This is a small sample of students and/or alumni that have been supervised by this researcher. It is not meant as a comprehensive list.

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