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An understanding of peer support in an effectual entrepreneurial process: case of French wine-entrepreneurs

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Collaboration and partnering with multiple stakeholders are at the heart of the effectual entrepreneurial process (Sarasvathy, 2003). This study aims to determine the specific role of, what we call, individual strategic partnership (ISP) in the entrepreneurial effectuation process. Therefore, an exploratory and comprehensive qualitative study has been conducted based on ten interviews with wine-entrepreneurs from the French wine industry. These entrepreneurs interact with various ISP, which are organisations or individual which/who influence the evolution of the entrepreneurial process. We have identified coordinating, business, external, internal and peer ISP – who may or may not be supporting wine-entrepreneurs to build and develop their own business. The peer ISP appears to be the one, which counts the most for the wine-entrepreneurs in their respective entrepreneurial process. Interviewed wine-entrepreneurs are particularly linked to actors, who share similar practices and a common identity, and with whom they collaborate to set up their business. The peer ISP provides wine-entrepreneurs with a peer support, essential to the development of their business.
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nt. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 32, Nos. 1/2, 201
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Copyright © 2017 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
An understanding of peer support in an effectual
entrepreneurial process: case of French
wine-entrepreneurs
Coralie Haller*, Juliane Santoni and
Isabelle Barth
Humanis Research Center (EA 7308),
EM Strasbourg Business School,
Université de Strasbourg,
61, Avenue de la Forêt Noire 67000, Strasbourg, France
Email: Coralie.haller@em-strasbourg.eu
Email: Juliane.santoni@em-strasbourg.eu
Email: Isabelle.barth@em-strasbourg.eu
*Corresponding author
Christina Augarde
EM Strasbourg Business School,
Université de Strasbourg,
61, Avenue de la Forêt Noire 67000, Strasbourg, France
Email: ch.augarde@gmail.com
Abstract: Collaboration and partnering with multiple stakeholders are at the
heart of the effectual entrepreneurial process (Sarasvathy, 2003). This study
aims to determine the specific role of, what we call, individual strategic
partnership (ISP) in the entrepreneurial effectuation process. Therefore, an
exploratory and comprehensive qualitative study has been conducted based on
ten interviews with wine-entrepreneurs from the French wine industry. These
entrepreneurs interact with various ISP, which are organisations or individual
which/who influence the evolution of the entrepreneurial process. We have
identified coordinating, business, external, internal and peer ISP – who may or
may not be supporting wine-entrepreneurs to build and develop their own
business. The peer ISP appears to be the one, which counts the most for the
wine-entrepreneurs in their respective entrepreneurial process. Interviewed
wine-entrepreneurs are particularly linked to actors, who share similar practices
and a common identity, and with whom they collaborate to set up their
business. The peer ISP provides wine-entrepreneurs with a peer support,
essential to the development of their business.
Keywords: individual strategic partnership; entrepreneurial peer support;
French wine industry; effectuation.
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Haller, C., Santoni, J.,
Barth, I. and Augarde, C. (2017) ‘An understanding of peer support in an
effectual entrepreneurial process: case of French wine-entrepreneurs’, Int. J.
Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 32, Nos. 1/2, pp.208–228.
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n understanding of peer support in an effectual entrepreneurial process 209
Biographical notes: Coralie Haller is an Information System and Wine
Management Associate Professor at EM Strasbourg Business School. She has a
business background in the wine and supply chain industry in France and
Australia with previous roles including business intelligence manager and IS
consultant. She obtained her PhD at Aix Marseille University in 2014. Her
research interests concern management of information in SME in the wine
industry. She is Head of the Major in Wine Management and Tourism and
Associate Dean for Executive Education Program at EM Strasbourg Business
School.
Juliane Santoni is a PhD candidate and Junior Lecturer at EM Strasbourg
Business School. Her research interests cover women’s entrepreneurship,
business support and incubators. She graduated from EM Strasbourg Business
School in 2013 as an Entrepreneurship major and spent one academic year in
Texas A&M University. After a business experience in project management
and public relations, she is currently the Head of the Entrepreneurial Center of
EM Strasbourg Business School.
Isabelle Barth is a University Professor in Management since 2004. After ten
years in business development positions within several companies, she joined
the university sector in 1994. Her current research is built around three themes:
sales, diversity management and emerging consumer behaviour, using an
interdisciplinary approach. She is the Redactor-in-Chief of the Revue
Internationale de Psychosociologie et de gestion des Comportements
Organisationnels and co-President of the Institut Psychanalyse et Management
scientific committee. She was the Director of Research of the Research Center
HuManiS for two years before taking over the general management of EM
Strasbourg Business School in May 2011.
Christina Augarde is the owner and the winemaker of Château Peyrelongue in
SaintEmilion. She holds a Master degree in Agronomy, Viticulture and
Oenology at Montpellier Supagro. She worked several years as the Technical
Director in Bordeaux vineyards, Graves, Côtes de Bordeaux. She obtained her
Master degree in Entrepreneurship at EM Strasbourg Business School in 2014.
Her research subject was entrepreneurship in the wine industry, in relation to
her personal interests and projects.
This paper is a revised and expanded version of a paper entitled ‘L’approche
par les proximités dans le cadre d’une démarche entrepreneuriale effectuale :
Cas de vignerons-entrepreneurs accompagnés par les pairs’ presented
at Association Internationale du Management Stratégique (AIMS), Paris,
2–5 June 2015.
1 Introduction
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Sarasvathy’s (2001a) work on entrepreneurship
has given a fresh perspective to the kinds of reasoning and activities deployed by
entrepreneurs in their business start-up process. Sarasvathy (2001a, 2001b, 2003)
suggests that the most successful entrepreneurs are those who adopt ‘effectuation logic’
rather than a causal one. The effectuation process focuses on both the entrepreneur’s
ability to combine existing resources and their capacity to exploit the contingencies of
their environment to achieve their goals. In order to innovate and learn, entrepreneurs
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rely on multiple interactions with various stakeholders (Lewin et al., 2011; Sarasvathy,
2001b). They would be unable to grow their business without a vast network of
partnerships and cooperation (Sarasvathy, 2008). Despite the advances in research on
entrepreneurship, particularly through the seminal work by Sarasvathy, few studies have
looked at the role of stakeholders (Shane, 2012) in the entrepreneurial process. Perry et
al. (2012) also called for more research on the relationship between effectuation and other
established constructs in order to extend theoretical insights into the process.
Our study was conducted in the French wine industry, which is rapidly changing due
to fierce competition, dispersion of business structures, the numerous production
constraints, and the dependence on climate. These factors are a constant challenge for
wine-entrepreneurs who must remain competitive, attentive to others and to the changes
operating within their environment, and must develop suitable practices to achieve their
goals. A few studies have looked at how wine-producing estates manage in this uncertain
context (Aldebert et al., 2012; Haller, 2014). In this research, we thus consider as
effectual wine-entrepreneurs in majority first generation winegrowers that created a
domain or at least created a company on an existing domain with important
transformations: size of the domain, products and commercialisation.
Our study focuses on the notion of stakeholders, at the heart of the effectuation theory
which we consider to be individual strategic partnerships (ISP), which are the
partnerships created individually by the entrepreneur with organisations or other
individual that end up to influence the evolution of the effectual entrepreneurial process.
Thus, our study addresses the following research questions: Who are the different ISP
that influence the effectuation process? To what extend peer support matter in this
entrepreneurial process? To answer these questions, we carried out an explorative
research based on a descriptive and comprehensive qualitative analysis and conducted ten
cases of wine-entrepreneurs from the French wine sector.
The present paper is divided into two parts. In the first part, we present the theoretical
framework. In the second part, we describe the methodology used and set out the main
findings of the study, which we then discuss.
2 Current state of the literature and theoretical framework
We first discuss the effectuation start-up process (2.1) and examine the importance of ISP
in the process (2.2). We then narrow down the ISP to entrepreneurial peer support (2.2.2).
2.1 Effectuation
2.1.1 Effectuation logic
At the end of the 1990s, work on entrepreneurship initiated by Sarasvathy gave a fresh
perspective to the question of entrepreneurial success. The author sought to understand
how entrepreneurs’ reason and act in their business start-up process (Sarasvathy, 2001a).
Her work showed that the most successful entrepreneurs tend not to adopt a predictive
(causal logic) process, but use a very different type of reasoning called effectuation
reasoning (Sarasvathy, 2001a, 2001b, 2003). As brilliant improvisers, effectual
entrepreneurs rarely start out with concrete objectives, but often begin with a relatively
simple idea or even no idea at all (Sarasvathy, 2001b). In addition, effectual
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entrepreneurs constantly gauge how they can use their own resources and those available
to them, developon the fly goals, and react creatively to the unexpected. They thus
work on potential outcomes, hence the term ‘effectuation’ [Silberzahn, (2012), p.11].
Effectuation is underpinned by entrepreneurs’ ability to combine existing resources and
their capacity to exploit environmental contingencies in order to achieve their goals. They
use their creativity and imagination to develop coherence between available resources,
desired outcomes, and the ensuing action [Fayolle and Toutain, (2009), p.4].
During the effectuation reasoning process, entrepreneurs consider a situation with
respect to three kinds of personal criteria (Sarasvathy, 2001b):
1 their personality, the ‘who I am’, in other words, their traits of character, preferences
and skills that push them in one direction rather than another, or make them more
sensitive to one problem as opposed to another
2 their knowledge or ‘what I know’, based on their education, training and experience
that, together, form their expertise
3 their relations, the ‘who I know’, in other words their personal and professional
networks.
Entrepreneurs use these resources to imagine and select attainable outcomes based on the
means at their disposal: i.e., the ‘what I can do’ (Sarasvathy, 2001b, 2008; Vian, 2010).
They thus develop projects linked to their experience and what makes sense for them
(Sarasvathy, 2008). At the beginning they have to make do with the tools at hand
(Sarasvathy, 2008), before finding partners and activities that will enable them to extend
the resources they need in order to develop. In other words, entrepreneurs start by
exploring possible outcomes with the means at their disposal, while goals and end
purposes are only determined at a later date. Thus, an effectuation process involves
imagining several potential end scenarios from the means that are known (Sarasvathy,
2001a).
2.1.2 Stakeholder interaction in the effectuation process
Sarasvathy (2001a, 2001b, 2003) identifies three main principles that characterise
effectual logic: accepting losses, fostering opportunities and finding strategic
partnerships.
To develop a network of ISP interested in making the entrepreneur’s business venture
successful (Sarasvathy, 2001a), entrepreneurs seek out other people in order to obtain
their opinions, their comments and suggestions on the way they think about, combine and
make sense of ideas. These people may be friends or family, or simply chance encounters
(Sarasvathy, 2001b, 2008; Vian, 2010). Adopting an effectuation approach means
working on a ‘crazy patchwork’ of ISP [Silberzahn, (2012), p.12]. It is a crazy patchwork
insofar as the entrepreneur does not know in advance which stakeholder will join the
project or what each of them will put into it, and thus the final structure of the patchwork
is unknown [Silberzahn, (2012), p.12]. In all cases, interaction with potential ISP enables
the entrepreneur to explore a range of possibilities. Moreover, this interaction helps them
to identify ISP likely to be interested in the venture (Sarasvathy, 2008). The engagement
of a new stakeholder in the scheme enriches the available resources so that new outcomes
can be developed, and new perspectives defined. This may be understood as an iterative
and cumulative chain of ‘means effects means effects’ which, as new ISP gradually join
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the process, involves taking the unexpected into account and developing an overall goal
that makes sense can be reached (Nählinder and Wihlborg, 2014; Sarasvathy, 2001b,
2008; Silberzahn, 2012; Wiltbank et al., 2006). Thus, entrepreneurs cannot grow their
business without extensive cooperation and a large network of partnerships (Sarasvathy,
2008). This makes entrepreneurship an endogenous process that gives a more explicit and
proactive role to human relations in the creation of new opportunities [O’Shea and
Buckley, 2010; Sarasvathy, (2003), p.155, Sarasvathy and Germain, (2011), p.68]; This
argument reflects the creative and imaginative aspect of human agency, while at the same
time reflecting the close link between individuals and their context.
Figure 1 The dynamic and interactive effectuation process (see online version for colours)
Source: Adapted from Wiltbank et al. (2006), Sarasvathy (2008) and Vian
(2010)
Sarasvathy’s (2001a, 2001b, 2003, 2004, 2008) theory of effectuation is therefore a
dynamic and interactive decision-making process, contingent upon interactive human
activity between the different ISP who play an explicit and proactive role in the creation
of new opportunities. More specifically, effectuation is the sum of constructed,
deconstructed and revised plans, pursued through daily actions and interactions. The
goals thus gradually emerge as the entrepreneurial venture advances, driven on by the
owner’s aspirations and expertise, encounters and networks mobilised, and various
contingencies (Sarasvathy, 2001a; Sarasvathy and Germain, 2011; Silberzahn, 2012).
To answer our research question, we examined the development of strategic
partnerships (ISP) in the business start-up process that we consider as interactions
between ISP in an effectuation process. Prior studies have shown how wine-entrepreneurs
adopt an effectuation process at certain stages of the business start-up (Amabile et al.,
2012). Moreover, the notion of proximity plays a key role in the development of
exchanges, collaboration and avoidance strategies (Felzensztein, 2014; Haller, 2014). If
we consider proximities as explanatory principles that offer clearer insights into the role
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of ISP in an effectual entrepreneurial process, we can see how adopting an approach
based on proximities can be useful. The next step is therefore to identify and characterise
the different types of proximity.
2.2 From the business incubator industry to entrepreneurial peer support
2.2.1 A brief theoretical background on business incubation
Overall, thebusiness support industry has experienced significant changes in the last
few years (Messeghem et al., 2013). In parallel with the industrys development, and as
noted earlier, there has been an increasing body of academic research on the subject in
the context of English and French speaking countries.
However, a differentiation must be made in the literature between the various types of
practices and business support structures such as incubators (Chabaud et al., 2010a). This
first type of literature comes mainly from English speaking countries and generally deals
with support structures, especially incubators (Bergek and Norrman, 2008; Hackett and
Dilts, 2004). There are many kinds of business support structures (Bakkali et al., 2010).
According to Boter and Lundtröm (2005), this is due to “several differences in the way
that incubators are organised and in their goals” [Aaboen, (2009), p.658]. The term
‘support structure’ is translated in English by ‘incubator’ (Messeghem et al., 2013),
although in fact it refers to different realities (Aernoudt, 2004; Bøllingtoft, 2012).
The second type of literature mainly French speaking literature focuses on various
forms of support and practices, and on project owners (Chabaud et al., 2010a). The notion
of support is a fundamental element for Albert et al. (2003). Regarding the business
support literature, the journal Gestion 2000 recently published an editorial on the subject
entitled L ‘accompagnement entrepreneurial ou l’émergence d’un nouveau champ de
recherché” (entrepreneurial support and the emergence of a new field of research)
(Chabaud et al., 2010b). Academic research on the topic became more widespread in the
first decade of this century (Chabaud et al., 2010b; Léger-Jarniou and Sapotra, 2006). Its
development may be explained by the wish to record the activity’s expansion (Bakkali
et al., 2010) and to provide public authorities and project owners from various
backgrounds with solutions to their needs (Chabaud et al., 2010a). Entrepreneurial
support is therefore highly diverse, it does not exist only one single form (Hackett and
Dilts, 2004), Thus, business support is “neither a stabilised notion in its meaning, nor a
well defined area in its uses” [Paul, (2009), p.91]. This umbrella term covers a range of
practices such as coaching, sponsoring, mentoring, consulting, guiding and tutoring
(Gundolf et al., 2010).
2.2.2 A new form of business support: entrepreneurial peer support
In parallel with the development of the support industry, an increased interest for this
research topic appeared both in the English and the French literature.
Some authors argue for the need to link the singularity of the support process with
that of entrepreneurship (Lévy-Tadjine, 2008; Verstraete, 2002). Others note the
importance of taking the various expectations and needs of entrepreneurs into account
with regard to support (Chabaud et al., 2010b). The world of entrepreneurial support is
also characterised by very different players and practices (Aaboen, 2009) and some
entrepreneurial support processes develop outside the framework of traditional support
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structures (Lamy, 2012). Coaching seems to be an original, tailored approach that helps
new entrepreneurs improve their managerial skills and develop new ones (Audet and
Couteret, 2012; Shahidi, 2012). The support of a mentor for entrepreneurs is also gaining
popularity (Mullen et al., 2011; St-Jean and Tremblay, 2013). More specifically, Fortin
and Simard (2007) even highlight a ‘situational mentoring’, where mentors are
encouraged to adapt to the needs of the entrepreneurs they are mentoring which would
allow them would allow to more easily identify business opportunities. However,
concerns of entrepreneurs have changed (Gundolf et al., 2010) and a new support area
has gradually emerged to meet the new needs which include finding networks, creating
discussion groups between entrepreneurs, and providing tailored advice, each of which
represents a new challenge (Pezet, 2004).
Peer support is the natural outcome of these evolutions, underpinned by an atypical
support situation since it has developed from a unilateral supporter-supported relationship
to one of exchange (Jaouen et al., 2006) according to Ulrich (1983). In the specific case
of peer support, the traditional dynamic is moving towards a support form that may be
qualified as collaborative (Messeghem et al., 2013). This type of support is similar to
traditional entrepreneurial support scenarios: we find the notion of dialogic
communication underlying support as defined by Paul (2007), the ‘mutual listening’
expounded by Fayolle (2004), and the ‘area of mutual understanding’ (Paul, 2007) that
develops thanks to these elements. However, it is the dimension of bilateral (or
collective) collaboration between peers that differentiates them. It exists few studies on
this form of support in the literature (Gundolf et al., 2010; Katz, 2007), apart from peer
support practices that involve ‘mature’ firms mentoring ‘young’ firms. Other fields of
research gave some interest to peer counselling, a close notion to the one we are studying,
especially researchers in clinical psychology and counselling (e.g., Levenson and Dwyer,
2002; Murr et al., 2002; Paulson et al., 1999).
Peer entrepreneurial support is described as a mix between traditional support and
strategic alliances (Jaouen et al., 2006). The same authors (Jaouen et al., 2006) add that
shared trust is the basis of such partner-related support, which is also a key aspect of
alliances and cooperation (Barney and Hansen, 1994; Inkpen, 1996; Khanna et al., 1998).
The win-win relationship characterising peer support is described by Jaouen et al. (2006,
p.65) as “a gift for gift relationship, where both protagonists alternatively find an interest
in their relationship”, since knowledge sharing is no longer unilateral as it would be in the
case of a traditional support relationship (when the supporter is a consultant or comes
from a specific support structure, for instance).
In the typology presented by Fonrouge and Sammut (2008) covering extended forms
of support, four types of support group emerge. These groups are classified according to
their degree of involvement in the support relationship and the type of information
exchanged (information on the organisation or the sector). This typology is adapted in
Table 1.
According to this typology, peer support is a cross between strong involvement of the
supporter in the relationship with the person supported, and exchange of information
focusing on sector-based rather than organisational elements. We define peer support as
“a mentorship consisting in, knowledge transfer, guidance, of the young entrepreneur
learning the profession” [Jaouen et al., (2006), p.69]. Table 2 sets out the characteristics
of peer support drawn from the literature.
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Table 1 Typology of extended forms of support
Nature of information
exchanged/degree of
involvement in the relationship
Low High
Organisation Consultants Stakeholders
Profession Committee of experts in
science and technology park
Academic supervisor,
peer or mentor
Source: Adapted from Fonrouge and Sammut (2008) and
Gundolf et al. (2010)
Giving these elements from the literature, we will focus on the following research
questions: “Who are the different ISP that influence the effectuation process?” “To what
extend peer support matter in this entrepreneurial process?”
Table 2 Characteristics of peer support
Peer-support
Relations Exchange, sharing bilateral or collective knowledge
Strong degree of involvement in the relationship
Shared trust
Relation of gift for gift
Players Peers, other entrepreneurs, novice or experienced
Type of information exchanged Sector-related information
Similar ideas Partnership or collaborative support
Strategic alliance
Source: Adapted from Jaouen et al. (2006), Fonrouge and Sammut (2008) and
Gundolf et al. (2010)
In the following part, we will expose our research methodology, and then present our
results and discussion.
3 Context and research methodology
Our study is based on an exploratory qualitative analysis of interviews with entrepreneurs
from ten wine-producing estates in France. In this section, we present the context of our
empirical study (3.1) as well as our data collection and processing methodology (3.2).
3.1 Presentation of the field: the French wine sector
Our focus is on the French wine sector, which is important both in economic and
commercial terms. With a positive balance of 9.5 billion Euros in 2012, up 10.5%, the
wine and spirits sector represents the second most profitable sector in the balance of
trade, just behind the aeronautics industry (FEVS, 2013). France remains one of the three
largest wine-producers in the world, with 46.2 million hectolitres of wine-produced in
2014 (OIV, 2014). France is the second largest consumer of wine in the world (after the
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USA), and wine remains a ‘national drink’. At the same time, the wine-production sector
is going through a period of rapid change, especially at international level, resulting in a
number of challenges for wine-producers (Hannin et al., 2010). They have to take into
account not only the emergence of mass marketing and changes in consumption practices
but also the important competitive density and the legislation, which differs from one
country to another, when producing and selling their wines. Other constraints, more local,
such as difficulties of settling down and transmission, land pressure or soils constraints
(irrigation in particular). In this uncertain context, it seems necessary for wineries to
understand their environment to be able to anticipate strategic issues they are facing or
will be facing in the coming future (Haller e t al., 2012).
Besides, these wineries evolve within a local sector which is characterised by an
interorganisational complex and fragmented context including various entities, all
different in essence and form. In fact, it is possible to find professional organisms
(consular agencies, professional unions, associations, councils, etc.) which develop and
propose business intelligence activities related for example, to economic and business
trends, market trends, etc. At the same time, wineries maintain exchanges and
collaboration about their professional practices with other organisations in their industry
(customers, suppliers, partners, competitors, etc.) (Haller et al., 2012).
For the purpose of our study, we decided to focus on wineries (independent wine
grower in comparison to cooperative cellars), as they are one of the major actors who
manage the whole set of growing, harvesting and processing of grapes to produce wine.
All of the wine-producing estates in our sample were small businesses that employ no
more than 50 staff. SMEs, especially small companies as defined by Torrès (2007, p.17)
and Marchesnay (2003) are the focus of a specific field of research.
Considering this uncertain, fragmented and complex context, it seems to us
interesting to investigate the entrepreneurial strategy of wine-entrepreneurs and the type
of support that is adapted to their specific challenges. Our study thus explores an
emerging, non-traditional form of entrepreneurial support in the case of the wine
entrepreneurs we studied, namely, peer support.
3.2 Research methodology: a qualitative approach
Our research aims at exploring entrepreneurial initiatives in the French wine industry.
More precisely, it is a matter of experimenting and investigating how French
wine-entrepreneurs conduct their entrepreneurial projects and what might influence this
process. In this perspective, we decided to follow the recommendation of Miles and
Huberman (2003) and Rispal (2002, p.63) who suggest to adopt a qualitative
methodology as it appears to be the best solution to understand a phenomena in-depth,
giving us insights into the why and the how of events in concrete situations [Wacheux,
(1996), p.15]. In that matter, we chose a case study methodology since it enabled us to
explore the dynamics of a complex social process and its evolutions over time (Rispal,
2002; Miles and Huberman, 2003; Yin, 2009). Our case focuses on the French wine
sector and encompasses on several subunits wine-producing estates within this context;
this approach is an embedded case study (Yin, 2009).
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Table 3 Presentation of the wine-entrepreneurs interviewed
Domains
Fir st le tter the
entrepreneurs
names
Gender
Status-position of the
entrepreneur in the
company
Appellation Year of
creation
Size i n
hectares
Number of
employees
Number of
bott les
Distri bution channels (wine,
shops, CHR, GD, VD, etc.)
Fam ily
lega cy
1 S. Female Owner/Manager Bourgo gne
Vézelay
2009 10 1 60,000 Wine, merchant/bulk, wine
shops, export, direct sale
1st
generation
2 E. Male Own er/Manager Vin de France 2009 2 0 20,000– 30,000 Cafés-Hotels-Restaurant,
wine shops, GD
1st
generation
3 M. Female Owner/Manager Còtes du
Roussillon et
Maury
2001 10 2 70,000 Export ,
Cafés-Hotels-Restaurant
1st
generation
4 N. Male Owner/Man ager Sauternes 2008 7.5 0 24,000 Wine m erchant/bulk 1st
generation
5 A. Male Owner/Man ager S aumur 2006/2008 4 0 30,000 Cafés-Hotels-Restaurant,
wine shops, export, direct
sale
1st
generation
6 V. Female Co -owner/Man ager Alsa ce 2001 25 15 350,000 Direct sale,
Cafés-Hotels-Restaurant,
wine shops, export
Family
business
takeover,
12th
generation
7 S. Female Owner/Manager Còte de
Provence
2009 8 0 30,00 0 Dire ct sale/w ine ex hibitions 1st
generation
8 C. Male Owner/ Manager Réign é 2014 3 0 11,000 Direct sale/bulk,
Cafés-Hotels-Restaurant,
wine shops
1st
generation
9 L. Female Own er/Manager Cognac 201 0 35 1 - Wine m erchant Family
business
takeover,
10 V. Female Own er/Manager Sa int-Ch inian 200 4 15 0 40,000 Export, direct sale,
Cafés-Hotels-Restaurant,
wine shops
1st
generation
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Data collection was based on semi-structured interviews (the duration ranged from 45 to
120 minutes, seven face-to-face in the wine-estates and three via Skype). This type of
interview is useful for collecting direct information about a study topic, providing
precious information regarding the players’ personal experience (Blanchet and Gotman,
1992). We compiled an interview guide including strict instructions and targeted
questions. Two types of questions were used: the ‘main questions’ which serve as
introduction and the ‘investigation questions’ intended to complete or clarify an
incomplete or vague answer. The researcher is then a speech facilitator and a guide of the
interviewees: the implication is ‘shared’ (Blanchet and Gotman, 1992). Topics developed
are linked to the effectual entrepreneurial process more specifically around themes like:
perception of the environment, the role of ISP and the detection of opportunities. Giving
our research questions, our main focus was thus on the role of ISP. We recorded and
transcribed all of the interviews so as to perform an exhaustive analysis of the discursive
data collected based both on audio recordings and notes on visual observations of the
field of research, following a rational choice of the wine-entrepreneurs to be interviewed,
see Table 3 for a detailed presentation of the wine-entrepreneurs interviewed. The
wine-entrepreneurs’ age ranged from 36 to 38 years old at the time of the interviews.
We built our sampling gradually, according to the researcher’s’ expertise of the
industry and their business network with the objective not to focus on a specific wine
region rather on different wine-estates of France. Thus, one researcher decided to start
interviewing one of her former classmate, from the oenological training. This primary
collection of data was completed by the website search for each wine growing estate.
Regarding data analysis, we proceeded to a double coding system, without using
percentages of similarities and differences but by discussing after a first round the
divergences of interpretations regarding our codes and the use of the extracts within the
codes. Two of the four authors have previously worked in the wine industry and have still
strong business contacts with wine professionals. This expertise allowed researchers to
approach the wine industry from the inside and to acquire the necessary knowledge to
grasp specific issues of the sector in a business context. The understanding of the French
wine industry complexity is thus partially based on researchers own knowledge of the
local technical economic environment acquired in professional situation.
We applied a semiautomatic coding system of six main codes: environment, role of
ISP, opportunities, support and hurdles. Extracts from the coded interviews were
classified into conceptual family matrices, as recommended by Miles and Huberman
(2003, p.231), grouping conceptually close items in each matrix. Conceptual matrices
synthesis is used to set up the findings, part 3.
4 Findings: from individual strategic partners to peer support
We first present the various individual strategic partners (ISP) who take part in the
effectual entrepreneurial process (4.1). We then discuss how peer support matters in the
effectual entrepreneurial process (4.2).
4.1 The various ISP in the start-up process
As producers in the wine chain, winemaking estates are in relation with both players
involved in the production, processing and sale of wine, as well as with institutional
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bodies. Our findings provide answers to the general ‘who I knowquestion, one of the
three principles of the effectuation process.
First, the entrepreneurs interviewed develop and foster relations withcoordinating
ISP’, such as coordinating organisations (CO) within the wine industry. These CO may
be consular, institutional, interprofessional and/or professional organisations. Among
other things, these entities support their members and pass on information. The
interviewees made special mention of the role of the Chamber of Agriculture, which they
contact for technical issues. Wine estate 10.V, for example, stated that the Chamber of
Agriculture helped him to draw up “(...) a pplications for funding, as well as with the
technical aspects of wine production (...).” Others estates mention “the importance of
belonging to an interprofession al structure” (Estate 1.S). We also noted that some
wine-entrepreneurs seek help from certification organisations in their business start-up
process, or belong to protected designation of origin commissions: “Xavier is an
administrator in the Saint Chinian appellation commission, and is also an administrator
for the Caves Particulières structure” (Wine estate 10.V). They may also use the
appellation’s support to sell their wine.
Second, our findings indicate that wine entrepreneurs interact with ISP that we have
called businesses ISP’ insofar as they are involved both upstream and downstream the
wine sector. In effect, wine-entrepreneurs use both a network of suppliers to develop their
products as well as players to help them to sell their products. These include wine
merchants, restaurants and cellars with whom the wine-entrepreneurs have direct contact,
as Wine estate 8.C notes: “I think I’ll keep the direct cellar network. True, it’s not direct
sales, but it can lead to direct sales”, as well as importers and sales agents.
Third, the verbatim indicates that wine-entrepreneurs develop partnerships with
financial and institutional players that are not directly involved in production or sales.
They thus rely on severalexternal ISP that are nonetheless involved in their start-up
venture. These include bank organisations, accountants and the farm counselling service
called the Conseil Economique Rural (CER).
Our findings also highlight the relations wine-entrepreneurs have with ISP inside the
winery when creating their business venture, notably with family members; we called
them internal ISP’. The 1.S Wine estate mentioned a member of his family, an uncle:
“who was our partner and who now wants to leave, who told us”: “I’d like to buy a
vineyard, we’re going to look together in Burgundy.” Another wine-entrepreneur said
that the owners of the estate that he farmed: “gave him a major helping hand! (Wine
estate 7.S).
Most of the wine-entrepreneurs interviewed also mentioned the interactions they
develop and maintain with other wine entrepreneurs, here calledpeer ISP’. We
identified two kinds of interaction of this type: first, the wine-entrepreneurs speak about
relations with neighbours. We should keep in mind that winegrowing regions in France
are often highly specialised, and so wine-entrepreneurs’ neighbours are often growers
too. Thus, some estates have business relations with their neighbour, who they work with,
as in the case of win estate 9.L: “he (our neighbour) does all the technical stuff for us: he
sprays, does quite a bit of the mechanical work and keeps an eye things, supervising a bit.
So it’s a pretty close relationship.” These wine-entrepreneurs are geographically close to
one another and help each other out with practical work. They can also help new ventures
to set up their business. Wine estate 5.A illustrates this aspect: “I think that when you set
up a small business, helping each other out is really important and mentoring by
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winemakers already in place is extremely important. It’s an extraordinary environment,
and the older winemakers push the young ones to start a business”. Wine entrepreneurs
are also members of winemaker networks, like the Jeunes vignerons de Bourgogne
(young Burgundy wine producers) and Femmes et vins(women and wine) that help
them to sell their wine and provide information about market opportunities: “In
Burgundy, we belong to Jeunes Vignerons de Bourgogne, Femmes et Vins, and all the
most dynamic networks and associations for technical issues and sales” (Wine estate 1.S).
These winegrower networks like the Divines d’Alsace provide support, as Wine estate
6.V reports: “(...) knowing that if you have a problem or sometimes when you’re less
motivated, it gives me a boost and a broader mindset that’s really enriching (...)”
Another type of interaction concerns relations that wine entrepreneurs have with
estates in other winegrowing regions, where they share their professional experience and
discuss sector specific pressures with other players from the industry. They give each
other material and moral support to help define and pursue their production strategy and
sales. “Each time we see each other in a wine-tasting, we generally chat ... it’s funny
because we speak about loads of things, technical issues, the cellar, vinification, taxes,
VAT ... It’s quite amusing because we all have the same problems (…). It’s true that you
learn more with wine producers from other regions because, I don’t know, the
experiences are different so it gives you new perspectives! (...) They’re really supportive
when things go wrong, when you’re feeling down, you’ve got wine grower mates who
say to you ‘Don’t worry, me too it’s like that’, and afterwards you feel better. And then
we also find ourselves doing it too one day or another” (Wine estate 3.M). Thus, some
relations may also go beyond the professional context, and the winemakers become
friends: “And so then we meet other winemakers through the fairs who’ve become
friends and that means we can discuss other winegrowing regions...” (Wine estate 7.S).
4.2 The influence of entrepreneurial peer support in the entrepreneurial
effectuation process
After identifying the different ISP involved in the entrepreneurial effectuation process,
we investigated how the latter interact in the business ventures of our wine-entrepreneur
population.
The wine entrepreneurs interviewed have relationships with both upstream and
downstream players based on exchange. These ‘business ISP’ may be suppliers,
restaurant owners, customers or cellars that Wine estate 8.C, for instance, works in direct
relationship with: “There’s a cellar network that in principle I wouldn’t let go of for an
agent (...). OK, it’s not direct sales, but it can bring in some direct sales” (Wine estate
8.C). These ‘stakeholder businesses’ are crucial to the company’s economic and
commercial success but are not directly implicated in supporting and growing the
business venture.
As mentioned earlier, many ISP impact on the winemaker’s business venture and
their role is crucial in the start-up’s development. Some of the ISP who interact in the
entrepreneurial effectuation process play a key role in supporting and helping to develop
the new business. These ‘external ISP’ are mainly involved in the initial legal set up and
financial stages, and/or in drawing up applications for subsidies. Indeed, some wine
entrepreneurs look for considerable support from experts such as the Chamber of
Agriculture, such as Wine estate 8.C: “The operation included (...) the Chamber of
Agriculture, people I trust, who also gave me a lot of help with starting the business.”
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The wine entrepreneurs interviewed explained that they also get help from the Centre
Economique Rural or independent advisers (accountants, bankers, etc.) when they need
technical advice of one sort or another.
Other types of ‘external ISP such as certificating organisations help to develop and
control the wine. Wine estate 10.V. illustrates this multitude of interactions “If we need
information, we have the Chamber of Agriculture. In particular the person in charge of
everything to do with organic farming in the Chamber can give us advice on matters from
applications for grants to technical winemaking information . For everything that’s
organic, we can also get advice from our certificating organisation. Afterwards... well
everyone a bit! We’re always interacting, even with the accountant” (Wine estate 10.V).
This type of ‘external ISP’ is found widely in the initial business start-up stage (buying
real estate in particular): “I n terms of help, there are the people who bought the vines that
we farm. They were a real asset (Wine estate 10.V). The families of the wine
entrepreneurs interviewed sometimes play a financial role. These different ISP provide
the traditional type of support defined in 1.4.1, since they help wine entrepreneurs to find
subsidies, draw up their business plan and get specific information about the market and
the wine sector.
Of all the ISP’ in the business start-up process, wine entrepreneurs mainly talk about
their peers, in other words, other wine entrepreneurs, the peer ISP\: “The winemaker’s
network also plays a key role!” (Wine estate 3.M.): “I found there was a fair bit of mutual
support between winemakers” (Wine estate 7.S). These peers are considered as key
players in the development of the business venture, as illustrated by Wine estate 3.M:
“They’re really supportive when things go wrong, when you’re feeling down, you’ve got
wine grower mates who say to you ‘Don’t worry, me too it’s like that’, and afterwards
you feel better. And then we also find ourselves doing it too one day or another. “These
peers may be geographically close, as illustrated by Wine estate 10.M. or geographically
distant like Wine estate 3.M who has links with vineyards abroad: “it happens more
through people you meet at wine tastings, in France and abroad, where you meet
someone, you get on and then after...well there you go! You can give each other
pointers.”
In addition, talking to other wine-entrepreneurs has numerous advantages, like
acquiring technical advice, sharing information and sales contacts, equipment, media and
industry promotion, and moral support: “Regarding discussions with other winemakers,
we belong to all the networks and associations that get things moving in terms of
technical issues and sales “ (Wine estate 1.S). Experienced winemakers also sometimes
make a point of taking budding young winemakers under their wing: “[The idea is to]
take a young person in my vineyard, who takes over the day-to-day stuff for me, and like
that he becomes a real winemaker and doesnt have all the usual startup headaches like
legal structures and all that (...). It’s all about regenerating the winemaking sector” (Wine
estate 2.E).The winegrowers push the young ones to start their own business (…).
[They] often speak about new arrivals and try to promote them with their customers”
(Wine estate 5.A). These peers can also be friends or professional relations: “Sometimes
the boundary isn’t very clear… between professional relations and friendship” (Wine
estate 6.V). The bonds that develop between wine entrepreneurs are based on peer
support underpinned by mutual esteem (linked to professional expertise), and trust
(mutual help and services): “After, the network is a pleasure, there are loads of
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winemakers from all over France that we call on when we have different questions”
(Wine estate 5.A).
Moreover, the notion of collaboration and give and take is very clear in the wine
entrepreneurs’ discourse: “A s soon as I have any technical queries, I turn to my mates
for the answer. I think that I’m very important to them and they’re very important to me.
It’s better than being isolated, thinking you alone know the answer. And I think that
that’s the crux of, let’s say, of the success, or at any rate of the solidarity” (Wine estate
2.E). The term mentoring and the notion of mutual support also crop up: “I think that
when we open small businesses, mutual support is really important, and mentoring by the
older winemakers is extremely important” (Wine estate 5.A); “Thats the way I am, it’s
the whole environment that gravitates around me. In fact I help quite a lot of people and
always have done. There’s a lot of mutual support (...). I have a large circle of friends and
professional acquaintances, so I’m always there if they want me” (Wine estate 2.E).
Table 4 shows a synthetic conceptual matrix, which highlights the classification of
the ISP that are present in our findings, according to the role that they play (support or
non-support), and the type of proximity that make them closer (geographically,
professionally or personally speaking).
Table 4 Conceptual matrix of the types of ISP according to their role and the type of proximity
Support Non-support
Traditional support Peer support
Geographically distant External ISP Peer ISP Business ISP
Geographically close External ISP Peer ISP Business ISP
Coordinating ISP
Distant from profession External ISP x External ISP
Close to profession Coordinating ISP Peer ISP Business ISP
Close to family Internal ISP Internal ISP x
5 Discussion and conclusions
Our results show that wine entrepreneurs call on different ISP to help them develop their
wine company. Several points need to be raised concerning the interpretation of these
results.
On one hand, wine-entrepreneurs tend to shape and foster exchanges with
coordinating ISP, companies from outside the wine industry and internal ISP, but above
all, with other wine-entrepreneurs. Within these small businesses, wine entrepreneurs
seek for new resources by exploiting opportunities to develop resources they would not
have otherwise. As shown in the literature, the effectuation process focuses on both the
entrepreneurs’ capacity to exploit the contingencies of their environment to achieve their
goals and their ability to combine existing resources (Lewin et al., 2011; Sarasvathy,
2001b). In order to innovate and learn, entrepreneurs rely on multiple interactions with
various stakeholders (Lewin et al., 2011; Sarasvathy, 2001b). Thus, building relations
with a number of ISP from both inside (Coordinating ISP, Peer ISP, Internal ISP,
Business ISP) and outside (External ISP) of the wine industry may be linked to
effectuation reasoning (Sarasvathy, 2001a, 2001b, 2003, 2008).
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Besides, as shown in Table 4, the exchanges among these different ISP are largely
based on the peer relations developed with other wine-entrepreneurs. Indeed,
wine-entrepreneurs develop sharing practices with peers, in other words, other
wine-entrepreneurs. These practices mainly occur between individuals with shared
experience who display certain similarities. Thus, wine entrepreneurs develop a
profession-based culture with other likeminded wine entrepreneurs with whom they get
on and develop empathy.
Our findings can first be linked to the various constitutive elements of peer support
discussed by Jaouen et al. (2006), Fonrouge and Sammut (2008), Gundolf et al. (2010).
The authors mention that not only the entrepreneurs exchange with each other, build gift
for gift relationships and mentoring that develops with other entrepreneurs, but also with
respect to the type of information exchanged relating to similar professional practices.
Such exchanges thus draw on shared professional experience. In that matter, we have
highlighted that wine-entrepreneurs show that kind of practices. At the same time, with
respect to mentoring the last key element in peer support – our findings indicate that
experienced wine entrepreneurs enjoy coaching new arrivals, especially as it results in the
regeneration of the wine industry. They also develop collaborations and share resources
that help foster the effectual entrepreneurial process.
Moreover, our results show that peer support develops between ISP in both, a close or
a distant geographical environment but also by sharing professional settings and interests.
These findings can be related to the proximity approach (Pecqueur and Zimmermann,
2004; Torre and Rallet, 2005), which is an heuristic that helps to define local and global
relations that can be both spatial and non-spatial (Gilly and Torre, 2000; Torre, 2002;
2010; Torre and Zuindeau, 2008). In fact, the literature shows that means of coordination
between actors does not depend solely on the geographic dimension, but also on its
conjuncture with non-spatial proximity, the organised proximity based on a dual logic of
belonging and similarity.
First, belonging involves a sharing process between individuals in a same relational
space (network, company ...), where different types of interaction occur. On the other
hand, the logic of similarity, mainly expressed through a tacit social relationship,
corresponds to the sharing of the same referential and cognitive space, and a same system
of representations and beliefs (Boschma, 2004; Gilly and Torre, 2000; Torre and
Zuindeau, 2008; Torre, 2010). Two individuals are considered as close because they ‘are
similar’, and share a same system of representations and the same knowhow, facilitating
their capacity to interact. This perspective is of particular interest for our research as it
can directly be related to our findings. Our results support this assertion that
wine-entrepreneurs not just refer to ISP geographically close to them but also peer
wine-entrepreneurs who share the same profession-based culture, develop partnerships
and relationships according to their similarities in terms of practices, beliefs and interests
that allow them to better their entrepreneurial effectual approach.
In other words, interactions between wine-entrepreneurs are based on an effectual
reasoning process liable to occur through the simultaneous use of geographic but mainly
organised proximity. This argument underpins our study of the role of peer support in the
entrepreneurial process.
Our study presents several inherent limitations in the methodology used. First, there
are only a limited number of wine-entrepreneurs who have been interviewed which only
provide a restricted overview of the issue at stake. Moreover, our findings offer a static
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overview of interviewed wine-entrepreneurs and their ISP at a specific period of time.
Thus, it does not provide information about changing behaviours towards ISP along with
the different steps of effectual entrepreneurial process. More specifically, our research
does not highlight the different in intensity of the peer support through the various steps
of the effectual entrepreneurial process. Finally, we only interview one category of ISP
through this research, that constitutes another limitation.
For future research and to respond the limitations previously tackled, we suggest to
consider a larger sample of wine entrepreneurs to enriched the findings. Besides, a
longitudinal approach would help to supplement the present study by providing more
information on the relationship between wine-entrepreneurs and ISP overtime. It would
also be interesting to extend the study of peer support within other contexts such as: other
industries like other wine producing countries (French culture impact, new world and old
world approach), or businesses of middle size. Another perspective could be to interview
other ISP, like wine merchant, professional wine councils, in order to get their insight and
compare them to these findings. A last perspective could be to focus on women
wine-entrepreneurs in a more comprehensive way since few studies have been made
within the French context (Chabaud and Lebègue, 2013). Besides, some organisations of
women are flourishing on the national territory (Constantinidis, 2010), witnessing a
strong will to gather among female peers phenomenon that may be of interest in terms of
research considerations.
The present paper makes original contributions. First, we develop a theoretical link
between the entrepreneurial effectuation approach and peer support. Moreover, we take
an empirical approach to qualify the ISP in line with Sarasvathy (2001a, 2001b, 2003,
2008). Our qualitative study identifies wine-production entrepreneurs as peer ISP with
regard to other wine-production entrepreneurs. There have been relatively few empirical
studies on effectuation to date (Perry et al., 2012; Shane, 2012) and one of our empirical
contributions is to make the role of ISP – one of the principles of the effectuation process
– empirically intelligible within an economic industry that features a high degree of
uncertainty. In the present paper, support defines the role of ISP in effectuation: the
atypical and informal nature of peer support means that it may be considered within the
realms of effectuation.
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... Another factor that might inhibit the positive impact of information exchange among entrepreneurial peers is selfserving biases in selecting sources. Entrepreneurs can apply perceived similarity in judgements and business practices as a criterion in selecting peers with whom they can exchange business-specific information and collaborate (Haller et al., 2017), which might restrict the breadth of informational influence on entrepreneurial processes. The selection processes among peers are linked to entrepreneurs' intentions to form business partnerships and use interpersonal ties with people of similar status to further their business interests (Vissa, 2011;Xu & Ruef, 2007). ...
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