"You Can't Make a Good Wine without a Few Beers": Gatekeepers and knowledge flow in industrial districts

Rebecca Mitchell, Brendan Boyle, John Burgess, Karen McNeil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Knowledge sharing sometimes plays a key role in the performance of clustered organizations, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), however, SMEs also face significant knowledge-related disadvantages due to their lack of absorptive capacity and functional expertise. This study investigates the influence of technical specialists on knowledge flow in a wine cluster in Australia. The main contribution of this paper is a finding that the technical specialist's gatekeeping role both links clustered SMEs to the global wine “systemworld” by transferring knowledge of technical developments and innovation, and simultaneously develops and refines regional winemaking styles by sharing locally specific, experientially derived knowledge. Technical specialists drew on bridging and bonding social capital to identify and retrieve specialist knowledge, and were capable of assimilating complex technical knowledge into the cluster. These findings are particularly significant because recipients were typically small and micro-firms, which are frequently located outside cluster knowledge-network.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2198-2206
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Business Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Industrial clusters
  • Social capital
  • Knowledge gatekeepers
  • Small and medium size enterprise (SME)
  • Knowledge sharing


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