Governance, commercial strategies and performances of wine cooperatives: An analysis of Italian and French wine producing regions

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to analyse the structural characteristics, the governance and the performance of two French and Italian groups of wine cooperatives, with two objectives in mind. On one hand, the study will analyse the presence of similarities between the characteristics of the two groups of companies which were founded in the same period within a similar legal framework; on the other, it will study the presence of links between the strategic policy of the companies and their structural, governance and performance characteristics. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study uses survey data obtained from interviews with 25 wine cooperatives. It covers the topics of their structure, organisation, strategies, management and performance in Italy (specifically in Umbria, a region in the centre of Italy), and in France (in Languedoc-Roussillon, a region in southern France). Other indicators of performance, calculated from the balance sheets of the companies, were added to this analysis, and a careful analysis was drawn up to check the factors which condition the performance of the companies. Findings ‐ The main finding underlines some strong differentiating elements between those cooperatives selling the biggest part of their production as bulk wine and those selling it as packaged wine. But the first situation does not lead automatically to inferring a decline or an involution of these cooperatives. On the contrary, the mitigated performances that were found clearly question whether there is a strategic evolution towards more specialisation (intermediate phases of product transformation, leading to business-to-business differentiation strategies) which could be more profitable for their growers-owners than further integration towards packaged wine sales. Originality/value ‐ The analysis deals with the problem of performance and governance of the transformation cooperative companies in the wine sector, which produce more than 50 percent of the entire wine production both in France and Italy.
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