Abstract: Small Enterprise and the Transfer of Knowledge in Early Economic Development: Argentina, 1901-1904

Uttam Bajwa


This paper examines knowledge transfer in small to medium-sized enterprises in the Mendoza, Argentina, wine industry. The wine entrepreneurs' strategies demonstrate how small, newly formed businesses in a peripheral region developed networks of information and knowledge-sharing. I will suggest that the 1901-1904 recession in the wine industry forced wine processing firms to develop more efficient business structures, better means of representing their interests to the government, banks, and railway companies, and improvements in their vertical coordination with suppliers (grape growers), as well as improvements in the quality of wine. In doing so, these firms tried to overcome information problems and facilitate knowledge transfer at four different levels: within the firm, with other wine processing businesses, with other points in the chain of production, and with other educating and regulatory bodies, such as the government. Though the relationships that facilitated knowledge transfer did not generally survive past the recession, wine processing firms' efforts toward cooperation revealed—and often reinforced—the growing divide between growers and processors as well as the increasing concentration of wine production among a few industrial winemakers.