The proposed project studies the dairy industry in the Baltic rim, with particular focus on dairy firms in the Nordic and Baltic States and in Poland from 1989 to 2018. The project intends to study the strategy, conduct and performance of firms in the dairy industry from mainly the 1990s and onwards, using both case study methodologies and quantitatively oriented research strategies. An important purpose of having a Baltic and Scandinavian perspective is to shed light on the impact of economic integration and competition in the Baltic Sea region after the fall of the socialist regimes.
Production in the dairy industry is almost always conducted locally; dairy products are seldom exported. Yet, the industry is today global, dominated by large transnationals. Several of them are organized as cooperatives. In some geographical markets, or in particular market areas, these transnationals – corporations as well as cooperatives – may compete fiercely, and their growth strategy is often to merge with or acquire local producers in Eastern Europe and in the Baltics. However, the transnationals also actively cooperate in other areas (e.g. in branding or distribution) or on other geographical markets. This may take the form as strategic alliances, such as joint ventures. Thus, coopetition – cooperation and competition – has been a common recent strategy.
Linkages are however not confined only in a ”West” to ”East” direction where large multinationals form alliances, or take over local producers: several Baltic and Polish dairy firms (privately owned as well as cooperatives, rooted in both the socialist and post socialist era) compete and export their products both outside and inside the EU. Since the 1990s, some have failed while others have managed to survive and grow. The entry, exit, strategy and performance of these local firms are of equal importance in the proposed project.
In the proposed project, we intend to analyse the development of the dairy industry and individual firms over time in the Baltic Sea Region, i.e. Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden. By assuming a longer perspective of time, using several complementing research methods and sources, our project has potential to generate new empirical knowledge on the dairy industry in the Baltic Sea area during the past three decades, as well as an ability to contribute to established theories in business studies, economics, and in economic and business history.