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The “Barolo brothers” : Organizational identity and social relationships as strategic decision-making drivers

Alberto Monti (Department of Management and Technology, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)
Severino Salvemini (Department of Management and Technology, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 14 October 2014




The case introduces the evolution and diversification of the Ceretto family business from the production and distribution of their own wines to the opening of two restaurants and the promotion of cultural and artistic projects. The case provides specific details about how strategic decisions were made. In particular, it shows how non-economic factors such as founders’ identity and personal relationships can shape the choice of new ventures and the formation of alliances. Since the second generation of the family joined the company, the case is useful to highlight the succession process in a family-owned company. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Due to the exploratory nature of the study the authors adopted a qualitative approach. Information was collected through secondary data and semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with family members and the company's top management. The case explores from a theoretical and empirical point of view the entrepreneurial decision-making process and how it affects the evolution of the company strategy.


The case illustrates the role of founders’ (organizational) identity and of social relationships in influencing the diversification of the company and its partnership strategy.

Research limitations/implications

The research strategy does not allow generalizations.


The case integrates strategic alliances literature highlighting the importance of the nature of the tie existing between companies before the alliance is set and of the decision makers’ identity in shaping partnerships’ choice. The case is useful in entrepreneurship and managing small or family business courses but also for students attending management of foods and beverage or cultural management courses.



This case was prepared by Alberto Monti and Severino Salvemini with the fundamental support of Roberta Ceretto as a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of managerial choices and administrative situation.


Monti, A. and Salvemini, S. (2014), "The “Barolo brothers” : Organizational identity and social relationships as strategic decision-making drivers", Management Decision, Vol. 52 No. 9, pp. 1750-1781.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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