New Research on Russian River Brewing Company Earns Distinction

Professors of Business and Entrepreneurship Honored by Western Casewriters Association with "Best Case Award"
May 8, 2017

Rohnert Park, California - The School of Business and Economics (SBE) at Sonoma State University (SSU) today announced that Dr. Armand Gilinsky, Jr., Korbel Professor, Dr. Sergio Canavati De La Torre, Professor of Entrepreneurship, and Jeffrey Young, (BA '12 and MBA '16), received the 2017 "Best Case Award" following a double blind peer review at the Western Casewriters Association annual conference in March. Their study, Russian River Brewing Company in 2016: Crafting Strategies, analyzes the brewery's challenge of meeting fast-growing consumer demand while maintaining a focus on product quality and consistency. The case research examines the owner's strategic choices in consideration of large-scale growth and its potential impact on customer perceptions, business operations, and financial performance. Brewery co-owner, Natalie Cilurzo, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from SSU in 1998.

"Congratulations to Professor Gilinsky, Professor Canavati De La Torre, and Mr. Young for receiving this well-deserved accolade. I had the privilege of learning to analyze case studies in Professor Gilinsky's class 20 years ago, but never dreamed I would be the subject of one. It was an honor to be selected to participate in this study," Natalie Cilurzo '98, co-owner and President of Russian River Brewing Company said.

"According to the data, the smallest and largest breweries nationally, both by number of employees and by assets, are more profitable than their mid-sized counterparts," Dr. Sergio Canavati, Professor of Entrepreneurship said. "There are opportunity costs in scaling a business to meet demand, and challenges to maintaining the quality and consistency that make a product successful in the first place. It's a complex set of considerations including brand loyalty, financial performance, and technology and human resource infrastructure."   
"In 2016, after ten years in operation and a four-fold increase in production, with multiple awards and recognitions, the owners are now in a position to craft their business strategy according to their long-term vision," Dr. Armand Gilinsky, Jr., Korbel Professor said. "This case study chronicles that discovery process and the exciting but difficult strategic choices they face."
Professor Armand Gilinsky is author of over 40 business case studies and articles on wine business strategy, entrepreneurial strategy, and socially responsible entrepreneurship. His book, Crafting Sustainable Wine Businesses: Concepts and Cases, was published in 2015. Professor Canavati has expertise in venture incubation, entrepreneurial cognition, corporate governance, and corporate social responsibility. For more information about the Russian River Brewing Company case study, or other faculty research projects at the School of Business and Economics, please call (707) 664-2377 or visit