In the Collective Identity and Collective Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Producers project, we specifically test shared identity as the mechanism for group solidarity. We hypothesized that for a particular type of collective venture, wine trails, the development of a shared identity was the basis for collective actions that include joint advertising and promotions, shared events, interlocking recognition of other members’ locations and products, and brand-building. Analysis of the first dataset collected, from eight wine trails in Missouri, confirms the hypothesis. At the same time, these groups are not incorporated and remain voluntary associations with collective commitment. We can find no obvious form of homophily that acts as a special mechanism.
We will continue to test the relational demography model in other wine-producing regions of the US over the next three years. We will also test strong network ties as the special mechanism that is salient to the entrepreneurial development of the artisanal cheese industry in the US since the 1980s. Interestingly, we hypothesize that the most influential network ties are among artisanal firms owned and managed by women and that the matrilineal development may be a distinct element of some collectives within the national industry.