Information technology (IT) has advanced at a rapid rate during the past three decades, and when used well, IT can bestow a competitive advantage in the modern economy. This article reviews key studies on IT adoption in US and Canadian forest products industries, summarizes their common findings, gives insights on these commonalities, and recommends future areas of research. The most frequent conclusion of these studies was that most forest products firms used only basic ITs. IT adoption rates were often found to be positively correlated with firm size and proportion of sales from exports. Most firms invested less than $10,000 in IT, which was not enough to develop sophisticated IT. Firms often perceived the largest benefits of IT to be promotional in nature, while cost-cutting operational benefits were usually ignored. Overall, with the exception of the pulp and paper industry, a cautious attitude toward IT adoption was observed. The low IT adoption by this sector could be attributed to several factors, such as being a highly production-oriented industry with few IT savvy personnel.

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Author notes

The authors are, respectively, Master's student and Associate Professor, Dept. of Wood Sci., Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (rlhewitt@interchange.ubc.ca, taraneh.sowlati@ubc.ca); and Director, Centre for Management of Technol. and Entrepreneurship, Faculty of Applied Sci. and Engineering, Univ. of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (paradi@mie.utoronto.ca). This article was received for publication in December 2010. Article no. 10-00073.