Love or Money? The Effects of Owner Motivation in the California Wine Industry

Fiona M. Scott Morton, Joel M. Podolny

NBER Working Paper No. 6743
Issued in October 1998
NBER Program(s):Industrial Organization

Many industries are characterized by heterogeneous objectives on the part of firm owners. Owners of private firms, in particular, are likely to maximize utility, rather than profits. In this paper, we model and measure motivations of owners in on particular industry, the California wine industry. In both a formal model and an empirical analysis, we examine the implications of these motivations for market behavior. We find evidence that owners with strong non-financial motivations choose higher prices for their wines, controlling for quality; owners with strong profit-maximizing motives choose lower prices for their wines, controlling for quality. We also find that utility-maximizers are more likely to locate at the higher end of the quality spectrum, whereas profit-maximizers are more likely to locate at the lower end. We explore how the presence of a significant number of utility maximizers within an industry affects the competitive interactions within that industry. We conclude that some winery owners consume' features of their product or business as a substitute for profits and, in the process, provide softer price competition for for-profits. Additionally, in aggregate, their preference for quality can prevent entry into the high-quality segment on the part of profit-maximizing firms.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6743

Published: Scott Morton, Fiona M & Podolny, Joel M, 2002. "Love or Money? The Effects of Owner Motivation in the California Wine Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 50(4), pages 431-56, December.

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