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University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Climate change adaptation strategies as a source of competitive advantage in the California wine industry 


We draw on the resource-based view (RBV) of the firm to study how the biophysical environment impacts firm decisions and performance in the California wine industry. We draw on RBV to show that firm climate change adaptation to natural conditions can be a source of competitive advantage to firms. Firms adapt to the biophysical environment to secure access to natural resources in the face of environmental uncertainties, and, subsequently, firms gain value from those adaptations. We test our hypotheses with a sample of 50,156 wine-winery-year observations for 535 wineries covering the years 1981-2019. Our results indicate that the adoption of climate change adaptation strategies are a source of competitive advantage for firms. We also show that firm climate change adaptation strategies mediate the relationship between biophysical conditions and product price. 

Keywords: climate change, biophysical natural environment, performance, adaptation, resource-based view, resource dependence 


Kerrigan Unter is a postdoctoral research fellow for the Institute for Economy and the Environment at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland funded through the Swiss Network for International Studies and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Her research broadly focuses on the interconnectedness between business and the natural environment. More specifically, Dr. Unter examines the relationship between biophysical conditions, such as climate change, extreme weather, and biodiversity, and business performance and response strategies. She has experience working with environmental nonprofits in the areas of water quality, invasive species, and biodiversity of native species. Dr. Unter earned a bachelor's degree in business administration, a graduate certificate in geographical information systems, and a Ph.D. in strategic management and public policy, all from George Washington University. 

Kerrigan Unter

Kerrigan Unter

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