Since the beginning of the 1990s, the wine industry has become increasingly global and knowledge-intensive. The historical leaders, France and Italy, have lost their supremacy while new players, such as the US, Australia, Argentina, Chile and South Africa are recording stunning performances in terms both of export volume and value.
In Innovation and Technological Catch up: The Changing Geography of Wine Production (Edward Elgar, 2011, 232 pp, £ 69.95) Andrea Morrison (KITeS Bocconi and Universiteit Utrecht), who edited the book with Elisa Giuliani (Università di Pisa) and Roberta Rabellotti (Università del Piemonte Orientale), draws from the wine industry a few lessons contrasting conventional wisdom about technological catch up.
Such a spectacular catch up has not been achieved by copying from leading countries, as implied by previous literature focused on technology industries. It’s been a research-driven transformation promoted by affluent new players (the US and Australia) and rapidly diffused to the rest. “What has happened in the wine industry”, the editors write in the conclusions, “is an excellent empirical illustration of Perez and Soete’s windows of opportunity opening up for lagging countries at times of relevant discontinuities. When new types of knowledge, skills and experience are needed, the burden of structural adjustment for forerunners is heavier than for new entrants, who can take advantage of this sort of opportunity”.
The contributors show that traditional industries, such as agriculture, can be knowledge-intensive and innovative and highlight the role of universities and intermediary bodies in connecting firms to new technological knowledge.