The sicilian cooperative system of wine production: the strategic choices and performance analyses of a case study

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to verify whether, besides the traditional organisational models mainly implemented by wine-making cooperatives, more modern and hybrid organisational forms can be profitably applied within an increasingly competitive wine market. Design/methodology/approach: The study outlined in this paper deployed a mixed method. Specifically, an archived analysis, a survey and a descriptive case study (including visits, interviews and documentary analysis) were the methodological techniques used in this study, which were “in series but integrated” between themselves. In this paper, the landscape of Sicilian wine cooperatives is described by collating and processing different types of statistical sources, which have been integrated by direct surveys undertaken in 2017. Thereafter, the study focussed on a wine cooperative with a specific business model and a strategic edge by analysing its strategic choices and main structural and governance characteristics. Within this case study, a financial ratio analysis, which was based on 2011-2017 financial statements, was conducted to analyse the profitability, financial balance, capital structure and debt relationships of the wine cooperative. Findings: The Sicilian wine cooperative system is still predominantly characterised by partial and vertical integration, implemented by cooperatives which elect to sell mainly bulk wine to wine merchants. In such a context, there is scope for other degrees of integration and strategic inter-firm alliances; the latter includes “vertical quasi-integration”. The study demonstrated how the wine cooperative under investigation is overcoming the structural problems of the regional wine sector and why it is retaining such a strategic alliance with one of the most important Italian wine conglomerates. Indeed, it has acquired greater strength and reliability since its collaboration with the aforementioned wine company. Thus, total revenue and the company’s market share of packaged wine have increased. However, there are still margins for improving sales’ profitability. Research limitations/implications: This study has territorial limitations but Sicilian wine cooperatives generally play an important role in the regional, Italian and European wine industries. As such, this research should be considered as an exploratory study, deserving further investigation into different strategic choices within the wine cooperative system by performing cross-case comparisons. Results may also be useful in orienting cooperative strategies in Sicily (or further afield) to small-to-medium wine cooperatives, often lacking specific abilities relating to the distribution, marketing and selling of their wine. Public agricultural policies may also be enlightened by these research pathways. Originality/value: The authors contend that their study provides hitherto missing information relating to inter-firm strategic alliances, which wine cooperatives might implement to enhance their competitiveness and survive in the long-run.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)391-421
Numero di pagine31
RivistaInternational Journal of Wine Business Research
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2020

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