Letter from the Editor

Chemical distributors and their role of tomorrow

Carsten Gelhard

Chemical distributors and their role of tomorrow


Recently published growth rates underline the previously forecasted development for the chemical industry. Although the chemical industry in Germany increased its production within the first few months of 2012, compared to the previous quarter, the association Verband der Chemischen Industrie (VCI) is forecasting a stagnation of chemical production for the overall year 2012. This economic situation also concerns the distribution sector within the chemical industry. Since chemical distributors represent a linkage between producers and customers, not only chemical companies, but also chemical distributors are confronted with certain challenges, especially in times of economic stagnation. Consequently, the relationship between chemical companies and chemical distributors is not rigid, but rather underlies certain modifications. Hence, we are glad to present you two articles in our current issue, which discuss the chemical distribution in Europe more detailed.
First, Matthias Hornke provides deeper insights in the future role of chemical distribution in Europe. In his commentary, he analyses and discusses customer relations as one key success factor within the chemical distribution sector. Mr. Hornke states that chemical companies increasingly realize the value of chemical distributors as value chain partners. The answers to his research questions, such as possible key success factors of the chemical distribution industry or the characterization of the future role of chemical distributors between producer and end customer, are based on a study with participants form the chemical distribution industry in Germany, Australia and Switzerland.
In the section of process innovation management, Thomas Lager and Johan Frishammar discuss the partnership between process firms and equipment manufacturers. In their research paper “Collaborative development of new process technology/equipment in the process industries: In search of enhanced innovation performance” the authors examine motives for collaborative development of new or improved process technology/equipment. Furthermore, they introduce a conceptual model of full lifecycle of process technology/equipment with a classification matrix for the selection of alternative forms of collaboration.
In the second research paper “Opportunities for- and configuration of foreign innovation: A case study of multinational companies in China” the author Jan Henning Behrens contributes to research limitations about foreign innovation management in China. Actual data from the OECD and others are used for a macroeconomic framework about innovation activities in China. In addition, this macroeconomic perspective is amplified by a functional management perspective in form of a micro-economic case study.
The current issue ends with the practitioner’s section “Chemical distribution in Belgium from 2007 to 2010: An empirical study” from Genserik Reniers. The study examines the diversity in the Belgian chemical distribution sector with focus on the eight leading chemical distributors on the Belgian market. The author develops a product lifecycle model which allows a description of the heterogeneity in this sector. Data about sold volumes, turnover, added value, investment and employment over the period 2007-2010 are provided in order to assess the economic decline in 2009 and the recovery in 2010.
Now, please enjoy reading the first issue of the ninth volume of the Journal of Business Chemistry. We would like to thank all authors and reviewers who have contributed to this new issue. If you have any comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to send us an email at:  contact@businesschemistry.org.

Carsten Gelhard, Executive Editor