The Role of Research in Wine: the Emergence of a Regional Research Area in an Italian Wine Production System
In recent years, the wine industry has undergone a radical technological modernisation in which scientific research has become extremely prominent. Focusing on a regional research system related to wine, we provide a detailed account of the structural features of the research and extension institutions in the Piedmont region and how they interact. Examination of their interactions enables an assessment of whether or not a Regional Research Area exists. This study is relevant (a) because top quality wines are a flagship product of the Piedmont region, and (b), because the importance of scientific research in the competitiveness in the wine global industry has greatly increased. The empirical analysis is based on detailed interviews with people from research centres, universities, extension agencies, business associations and other organisations that act as opinion/lobbying groups. In addition, it draws on a database of research projects on topics relevant to the wine industry, that have been funded by the Regional Government of Piedmont in the period 1991-2003. Social network analysis is employed to describe the structural properties of the networks that have been established among universities, research and business organisations and firms, as a result of these projects. Based on these two data sources we provide a detailed picture of the actors, linkages and processes underpinning the regional wine research system.
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