The material from this week addresses the need for applied research, which is one form of ‘evidence from the organization’ (in Evidence-Based Management terms).  This source of information is utilized to address whether or not a generic theory or practice that seems to work for some organizations actually would apply for a particular organization.  That is, will it work for us? This written assignment is to write a paper that describes how a generic theory would be tested through applied research in a specific situation. 

The general theory used for this assignment addresses the relationship between wine closure type (cork or screwcap) and intent or willingness to purchase.  The literature seems to point in different directions, depending on perceived quality of the wine, purpose of purchase (gift or personal use), etc. (see the three articles listed below).  Yet, the (perceived) growing acceptance of screw-caps, lower cost, and elimination of the problem of ‘cork taint’ has prompted a number of American Vineyards to consider a switch away from corks.  For a medium-priced bottle of wine, would a switch to screw-caps result in a loss of unit sales?

Assume, for the purpose of this assignment, that you are manager for vineyard producing mid-priced re wines (say, The Domain Carneros Winery ( in Napa Valley California).  You are contemplating a switch to screw-caps from cork.  What applied research could be conducted to determine if such a switch will result in lower unit sales?

Thinking back on the Pyramid of Evidence, what would a controlled, randomized longitudinal study look like if you were to conduct one at one or more locations that retail Domain Carneros wines?  What are the independent and dependent variables?  How would they be measured?  In what manner would the independent variable be altered/changed (to see if a resulting change appeared in the dependent variable)?  How would some sense of ‘randomness’ be included in the design?

In a three page paper (of text), describe an applied research study that could be conducted to answer the research question:  Will sales Domain Carneros wine be influenced by a change in the type of bottle closure? 

To figure this out, you will need to at least peruse the foundational (e.g., basic) studies listed below.  As a group, they will describe some of the current thinking/research on the subject.  While none of these report on a specific cause-and-effect study (most are descriptive and/or correlational), they do provide a fairly descriptive view of U.S. perceptions of screw-caps at the time of the studies.  But remember, these studies are over a decade old and consumer preferences and perceptions have been changing.

As the vineyard manager, you have broad authority to facilitate an experiment by contracting out the bottling of some cases with screw-caps, making arrangements with various retailers, etc.

Here are three foundational articles in chronological order of publication.  (Since the later ones tend to cite the earlier ones, it is better to look at them in this order.)

  • Durham C. & Marin A. (2007) Effects of Wine Bottle Closure Type on Consumer Purchase Intent and Price Expectation. Retrieved from American Journal of Enology and               Viticulture, 2018, 5, 192-201.
  • Barber, N., Meagher, M., & Kolyesnikova, N. (2008). A New Twist on Tradition: Selling the Experience to U.S. Wine Consumers. Journal of Culinary Science & Technology, 6(4), 325–342.
  • Barber, N., Taylor, D.C., and Dodd, T. (2009), The importance of wine bottle closures in retail purchase decisions of consumers, Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management 18(6), 597-614.

To be clear, this scenario can best be addressed through a controlled, randomized longitudinal experiment.  You should include in your paper:

  1. A brief description of the theory/hypothesis (that is, whether you think that a switch to screw caps will or will not result in a decrease in sales.   
  2. A description of the independent (influencing/causing) and dependent (influenced/’caused’) variables. How the independent variable will be changed.  And how the dependent variable will be measured and collected.
  3. How you will ensure that the study is conducted in a way that measures Domain Carneros actual customers.  And how you will that the control and experimental groups are comparable? (e.g., that any difference in sales in not the result, say, of one group being from affluent neighborhoods in the Northeast, while the other is from working-class neighborhoods on the Pacific Coast?)

As with all papers, the more details, the better.  Be sure to use APA format (Cover sheet, page numbers, citations, etc.).

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