Wine Industry Research Collaborative
We are pleased to announce the Inaugural Wine Business Research Symposium.
The Symposium is being hosted by the Wine Industry Research Collaborative as part of the Centre for Institutional and Organisational Studies, University of Newcastle.
Further information can be found at http://www.newcastle.edu.au/winebusiness/
Collaborators: Rebecca Mitchell, Robert Imre, Jennifer Waterhouse, Brendan Boyle, John Burgess, Julie McIntyre, Sidsel Grimstad, Kevin Lyons, Shaun Ryan, Karen McNeil, Anne Buchmann.
Program Chair: Rebecca Mitchell
This collaborative brings together researchers from across the social sciences to investigate the organisation and evolution of wine regions, wineries and other wine-related entities.
The current research interests of the collaborative encompass research project on regional collaboration, and contextual influences on wine growing and organisation. Within this broad study area, six research projects have been initiated. These explore the form of collaborative structures in wine regions and their performance-related outcomes; the historical, political, environmental and institutional factors that influence the wine industry and wine organisation, and the influence of values systems on wine production.
Collaborative structures and knowledge flow in wine regions: This project investigates knowledge flow within wine regions from a variety of perspectives. Following from the French School of Proximity, we harness relational and geographic proximity dimensions to understand the nature of knowledge acquisition and creation in clusters. Our main objective here is to investigate the impact of proximity from the perspective of the value-adding cluster. A secondary aspect of this project involves the exploration of knowledge gatekeepers and technological brokers, particularly in relation to the social capital advantages that accrue through collocation and firm clustering.
Historical Influences on Wine Growing and Organisation: This project explores and contrasts the historical evolution of the wine industry within Australia and internationally. Its aim is to bring trans-colonial and trans-national historical contextualisation to research into contemporary development of wine business, industry practices and tourism. A focus of this project will be to explore factors influencing the development and formation of wine organisation. This project builds on recent research which found that wine growing in colonial New South Wales attracted investment and government policy attention in disproportion to the actual profits possible from it. These values can be attributed to perceived cultural benefits of producing alcohol; colonial elites believed wine encouraged dignity and status which could ‘civilize’ the ‘savage’ Australian landscape and ‘civilize the civilizer’, that is, as a potential antidote for colonial drunkenness from spirits and beer. This project will aim to extend this research to the other Australian colonies and states up to the 1980s and the researcher is currently working on an application for an Australian Postdoctoral Industry Linkage grant through the ARC.
Business-driven environmental initiatives in agriculture based tourism clusters. This research will examine why, how and in what way business-driven environmental actions are undertaken in agriculture based tourism clusters in Australia and Norway. In Australia a winery based tourism cluster has been selected, while in Norway an apple-growing/cider producing tourism cluster has been selected. In both areas the natural environment/landscape provides added-value for the tourism industry. The two countries have had and have substantially different agricultural and environmental policies and contexts. The study will examine how formal and informal institutions may influence business driven environmental actions beyond compliance, and how and in what ways local stakeholders support or challenge the actions taken.
Institutions and Policy: Within this broad study area, research aims to examine and understand the role of public policy, and other regulatory institutions, in shaping and directing the form and activities of wine regions. This project is part of a broader research program into industry clusters that investigates the extent to which, and mechanisms through which, government and public policy institutions facilitate industry clusters through public policies. One of the projects key objectives, to investigate the impact of policy instruments in localised industry development, has the potential to enhance the operation, management and performance outcomes for wine industry clusters and promote regional and national benefit through enhanced regional support policies. A further component of this project, explores the institutional antecedents and consequences of collaborative regional cultures both locally and through international comparative study. A focus of this project is to differentiate between historical, social, economic and political influences on culture that have shaped interorganisational collaboration in wine regions nationally and internationally.
Industry culture and value systems - This project incorporates two related study components. One research component considers the contrasting developments in the tradition-based wine makers such as France and Spain, with contemporary challengers such as Australia, from an institutional perspective. Utilising a micro-level analysis of cognitive and normative institutions, and value systems, which are an essential element in the explanation of human behaviours and decision-making, this research aims to contrast the institutional frameworks and value systems of producers in an Australian wine region with a European region, from a range of perspectives including human value systems. A further component of this project investigates 'industry mindsets' and seeks to assess the impact of industry culture on the organisation of work in wine regions. Overseas studies of the wine industry have identified the importance of industry culture and the aim, therefore, of this study is to examine how organisational culture in selected Australian wine producers is influenced by the characteristics of the wider industry in which the firm operates. It is proposed that industry homogeneity means that many managers across organisations tend to agree on issues of boundaries, reputation and strategy, creating common interests and the potential for strategic agreement within the industry.
Politics of Wine - This project is an examination of the politics of agricultural production with a specialisation in the wine industry. Politics as a discipline is about power relationships. Power relationships create possibilities for resistance that can be found for example in the agricultural production of wine or to a great extent in the broader cultural politics of wine: marketing, consumption or the production of lifestyles. These possibilities can be organised around a version of civil society operating as a mediating ‘institution’ between governments and traditional social structures. This version of civil society can use a form of extended human activity that goes beyond the construction of a product for consumption in a marketplace. This human activity involves questions about dynastic politics, anarcho-syndicalist organization, work as a form of anti-alienation, entrepreneurial capacities for individuals in various settings and issues about governance. In this project we intend to provide a deeper and more nuanced understanding of both the historical conditions for the development of cooperative structures organised around wine production, as well as the politics that acts as an organising force for people in a diversity of settings. Some specific topics for analysis include: collectivisation and decollectivisation of land and resources particularly in Central Europe, the development and adaptation of ‘new world’ regions of wine production including in South Africa, Chile, Uruguay, Canada [Niagara and Okanagan], New Zealand, and the United States [Oregon], the possibility of wine regions developing in the Global South Asian settings, especially India and China.
Background - Hunter Valley Wine
Wine is produced in all of the Australian states. The University of Newcastle is proximally located to one of the regions where wine is produced - the Hunter Valley in New South Wales (NSW). In the Hunter the first wineries were established in the 1820s and today about 4,000 hectares of land are used for growing wine (McDonald, 2005). 35,000 tonnes of Hunter Valley grapes are crushed each year, coming from about 150 wineries (www.winetitles.com.au 2005, 2006). The Hunter is promoted as a 'wine of high quality region', which delivers value to the whole area as well as to the single winery. The Hunter Valley is home for a large number of very small vineyards and wineries which are summed up best under the expression 'boutique'. The actors in the valley grow grapes, produce wine and/or offer tourist facilities. More than half of the wineries give their grapes to a crusher and do not crush them themselves (Brooks et al 2004). The wine is mainly sold at the vineyard through cellar door sales or through the internet, and almost half of the wineries export at least some wine overseas (www.winetitles.com.au accessed 30.8.07). In the Hunter there are family wine labels (Tyrrells and Draytons) and long established national labels that were originally associated with family vineyards in the area (McWilliams; Lindemans; Wyndam Estate) (Burgess and Henderson, 2008). The majority of vineyards in the Hunter are small boutique wineries that are family operated whose small and varying annual production precludes them from access to the larger distribution channels such as supermarket and liquor market chains.