Background Literature and Research Focus, Questions, and Method

According to recent scholars' statements, the past vision of “feminization” as a negative attribute “is inadequate to understand the today variation of farm tenure and managing in Italy” (Sabbatini 2006, our translation). Today, “even multifunctionality and generational turnover in agriculture are fostered by women” (Sabbatini 2006, p. 20, our translation).

Rosenberg (1963) defined technological innovation as a major ingredient of long-term economic growth, characterized by a high degree of uncertainty. In this sense, innovations introduced by female rural entrepreneurs (in particular in winemaking and wine tourism) deal with technological and market uncertainty and have many ingredients of sustainability having surely a long-term vision.

In this line, the role of social capital and human capital (according to Becker 1962, 1975; Schultz 1960, 1964) and their reciprocal interrelations matter and have been tested in the Italian rural development (Benedetto 2011).

The updating of agriculture by the modification of the different forms of human, physical, and organizational capital (as stated mainly by Shultz) is an important research topic and a means for the sustainability even for wine farms.

Thus, our research focus is on the role of female entrepreneurs in using their specific capabilities and skills for the sustainability of their farms and the territories where they live and make business. Our research questions are as follows:

– Do women have a specific attitude in making business in the Italian wine industry?

– Are they able to perform feasible farming and marketing decisions in order to design a sustainable development of their business?

– Can they reconcile their family responsibilities to perform a charismatic leadership?

In order to find data useful to answer the research questions, we made two case studies following the qualitative method, gathering informations indirectly from press and the Web and directly from face-to-face interviews (Tremblay 1955; Kvale 1996; Marshall 1996; Bradburn et al. 2004) to women entrepreneurs engaged in the managing of vineyards and wine farms.

We have chosen to perform the interviews in two quite dissimilar Italian regions: Tuscany and Sardinia, which do actually represent very far wine poles in the Italian panorama. Thus, the comparison will help us in verifying the female behavior and the women perception of their own managerial “diversity” in utmost different socioeconomic environments.

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