The Role of Trust in Organizational Resilience

In 2018, less than a year after wildfire swept through Napa and Sonoma Counties, a team of researchers from the Wine Business Institute surveyed thousands of wineries in the western United States and interviewed Winemakers, Strategy and Operational Executives Tasting Room Staff and Line Workers of Bonded wineries in the Stags Leap AVA (Napa) and Dry Creek AVA (Sonoma) to better understand their preparedness for natural disasters. We found that most had production level plans required by OSHA for safety but few had even thought about planning for natural disasters. We expected our research to uphold some commonly held ideas in management theory. That the bigger and older an organization and the higher up you sat in an organization would greatly influence your perception of preparedness. Yet neither our surveys nor our interviews reflected this. What we discovered is that the single biggest indicator of preparedness was the level of organizational trust. Starnes et al. have noted, "Organizations with high levels of cultural trust…recruit and retain highly motivated employees, (who)…make their own decisions; take risks; innovate;…and display organizational citizenship behavior”. We know that organizations with high levels of trust empower employees to take calculated risks, and this empowerment - driven by high level of organizational trust - makes the difference in whether an organization will survive and thrive in the face of crisis and change. When employees feel valued and  empowered, they will take risks, make decisions and "do the right thing" in times of disaster, regardless of their position in the hierarchy. Those without this critical trust will hesitate to act, not knowing whether they will be later supported by their managers. The indiscriminate, displacing nature of disaster means that employees in a position to help save people and property in an emergency may not be the same employees who - in normal times - have the authority to make decisions.

Academic Papers: An exploratory investigation into strategic resilience in the US wine industry (2020) with Armand Gilinsky Jr, Judith Ford, Sandra K. Newton & Deanna Brown, Journal of Wine Research, 31:1, 35-48.
Gilinsky, A, Sen A.; Ford J.; Canavati de la Torre S.; Newton S. K. (2020) US Wine Industry Preparedness For Unforeseen Crises And Disasters: An Empirical Test, Wine Economics & Policy, Vol 9 (1).
Gilinsky, A., Canavati de la Torre, S., Ford, J., Sen, A., Newton, S.K. & *Brown, D. (2019) An exploratory study of strategic preparedness in the U.S. wine industry, Journal of Business Management and Change, Spring Issue, pp. 55-70.

Presentations: Preparing for and Mitigating the Impact of Natural Disasters and Emergencies, Unified Wine & Grape Symposium Panel, Feb 2020.
Disaster Preparedness: Employee Communications, Safety Protocol & Planning, Wine Jobs Summit, Nov 2020

Press: Gabrielle Canon (2020) 'Can California’s top wine region survive the era of megafire?', The Guardian, October 25.

Trade Articles: Resilience Forged By Fire, Flood & Quake: Best Practices in the Wine Industry to Prepare for Natural Disaster, Wine Business Monthly, Feb 2019.

Wine Industry Preparedness & Resilience Checklist