An exploration of the use of the Work-Applied Learning (WAL) change model for organisational design in the wine industry within Australia
: A case study within Casella Wines

Student thesis: DBA


Many sales organisations are facing fierce competition in both domestic and international markets. The costs of maintaining salespeople in the field are escalating at the same time that sales organisations are being pressured to increase sales but decrease the costs of doing business. These changes are being driven by several behavioural, technological, and managerial forces that are dramatically and irrevocably shifting the way salespeople and sales managers understand, prepare for, and accomplish their jobs. Among the behavioural forces are expanding powers of giant retailers, globalisation of markets and rising customer expectations. In fact, one of the most dramatic changes in business-to-business relationships in the twenty-first century has been the escalation in the demands for enhanced service, new types of relationships, and greater added value by customers of all kinds. Organisations must consider the pressures on the modern sales force and align sales structure with business strategy.

This research addressed how, within the Australian liquor retail market shift in channel share, a domestic sales structure can be reviewed from an organisational design perspective within an Australian wine manufacturer. Prior to the study, no change models or restructuring approaches specific to the wine industry were identified which presented a gap within the literature. This led to the development of the main research question, which is: How can an Australian wine business review its domestic sales organisational structure, and design and implement an improved sales structure as a change management initiative in response to the evolving distribution channel dynamics within the Australian wine industry?

Examination of sales management and change management literature as the two parent theories for this study, identified action research could be implemented as a suitable approach to the study. Action research is oriented to some action or cycle of actions that organisational or community members have taken, are taking, or wish to take to address a particularly problematic situation. Through direct intervention in problems, the researcher aims to create practical, often emancipatory outcomes, while also enabling the researcher to develop applicable knowledge in the problem domain. The research design of this study comprised two parts: the ╠│Conceptual Stage' and the ╠│Action Research (AR) Method Stage'.

This study has found that action research can be used as a change management approach within the Australian wine industry and can address how a sales organisation responds to the evolution of channel dynamics. This study has also contributed to sales management and channel management literature via the development and implementation of a sales organisational structure as a change management initiative using the action research method and the development of a conceptual framework detailing the individual elements of strategy, structure, people and performance which were considered and addressed during the research.

While my thesis cannot be made publicly available given some confidential data
I am happy to be contacted as I would be able to share sections of it (e.g. Lit review).
Date of Award2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn Wilkinson (Supervisor), Sumesh Nair (Supervisor) & Diane Kalendra (Supervisor)

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