Based on the research article
CASTELLANO, S., I. KHELLADI, R. SORIO, M. ORHAN, D. KALISZ, “Exploring the microfoundations of nomadic dynamic capabilities: The example of flying winemakers“, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, February 2021, vol. 163, no. 120445
Under the impact of globalization, the wine industry has undergone a radical transformation resulting, among other things, in a new type of professionals known as Flying Winemakers (FWMs). Our article takes a close look at these market players, who first appeared on the global wine scene in the 1980s, to analyze the roots or micro-foundations of nomadic entrepreneurship. FWMs are consultant-entrepreneurs who operate in an international context. They acquire, share and develop skills and expertise through their activity, which they then go on to disseminate and establish in their fields of consultancy, including their own vineyards. What are the foundations of their upgradable skills and dynamic nomadic capacities? Our research puts forward an original model to explain the origin and evolution of the dynamic capacities of these new nomadic entrepreneurs.
What are FWMs and what do they do ?
The expression Flying Winemaker was initially employed to describe Australian winemakers travelling to the northern hemisphere to train, learn about and participate in the production of new wines during the Australian winter months. It soon became apparent that this sharing of knowledge between new world and old world winemakers led to the significant improvement of old world wines. This initial success encouraged more winemakers from both hemispheres to move out of their comfort zones. Flying Winemakers are expert winemakers who plan, supervise and coordinate wine production from selected grape varieties. They are responsible for a wine estate’s entire vinification process, from grape growing to bottling, right up to the commercialization of the finished goods”. Thanks to their sharing of knowledge and various experiences in vineyards around the world, FWMs provide the wine estates that employ them with knowledge-intensive expertise and services, not just on how to organize, supervise and coordinate wine production, but on how to market, promote and communicate about wine. The best FWMs even oversee wine production in different countries, and some of the top wine estates vie for their valuable advice.
FWMs exemplify the nomadic entrepreneur
Our article shows how FWMs have revolutionized traditional knowledge transmission in the world of wine. The established old world model, based on transmitting and sharing knowledge from generation to generation and confined to a local area, has shifted to a new, multi-location, multi-directional model. FWMs and the wine sector therefore constitute a very good example to improve our understanding of the foundations of nomadic dynamic capacities. Their nomad aspect means that FWMs live and work in networks, communities, and “tribes”. They are international entrepreneurs who create, define, discover and exploit business opportunities on a global scale. Over time, nomadic entrepreneurs become connectors, as they develop the capacity to move from one place to another. Unlike local entrepreneurs embedded in the community, nomadic entrepreneurs are on the lookout for economic opportunities.
From local capacities to nomadism – the move towards a new type of entrepreneurship
The conclusions of the research, based on an analysis of the activity of thirty FWMs with a worldwide reputation, identify the key characteristics of nomadic entrepreneurs according to their individual/intrinsic characteristics, and their relationship with their environment. FWMs possess connection and coordination capacities that allow them to combine internal and external capacities that are in turn developed in time and space, and then cumulatively disseminated depending on previous experiences.
Based on the typology elaborated in the article, some nomadic entrepreneurs are similar to “explorers” since they start off with little knowledge, go on to acquire external capacities by moving between different places / companies, and then intensively develop internal capacities over time. This category of entrepreneur draws from the spatial dimension of the world to acquire nomad capacities that they go on to develop.
Others, more like “custodians of tradition”, develop solid national/local internal capacities, then transfer them abroad or to places / companies that take advantage of them and contribute in turn to the knowledge acquired by these nomadic entrepreneurs. This category starts off acting like traditional entrepreneurs, drawing from a temporal dimension, acquiring their capacities from their own place of origin. They then develop capacities from a spatial dimension, by travelling around other countries.
Lastly, “interpreters” and “pollinizers” are entrepreneurs who create hybrid pathways as (internal or external) drivers of nomadic dynamic capacities. Interpreters create new knowledge and new processes that enable them to devise new products while remaining close to tradition. Pollinizers take advantage of the dynamics of exchanges to create products that correspond to market expectations, moving away from tradition.
How to make companies innovative: act like operators and explorers
Our research shows how dynamic capacities transform traditional industries into innovative companies. FWMs act as catalysts between companies’ internal and external resources and their own expertise. They behave like operators (by capturing innovations) and like explorers (by generating new knowledge and innovating in turn). The proposed typology can also be applied to other sectors, like creative and cultural industries for example (e.g. DJs that disseminate and create different music styles around the world, creative directors of luxury brands who spread the next fashion trend, designers who invent new styles combining heritage and innovation, etc.).
Rossella Sorio has a PhD in Marketing (Montpellier 2 University), and is also an agricultural engineer with diplomas from the University of Padua (Italy) and INA-PG (France), an associate professor at ICN Business School, and a member of CEREFIGE, the management research laboratory of the University of Lorraine.
Her research centers on consumer behavior, innovation marketing and wine marketing. Her articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Innovation Economics and Management, Technological Forecasting and Social Change.