BiographyMy research interests range widely but revolve around food and wine: consumer choice in food and wine sectors, economics of food quality and safety, sustainable/rural/enogastronomic tourism and innovation in the agribusiness sector. I think that the originality of my research emerges from several methods used to carry out my interdisciplinary studies, especially in the emerging field of consumer science, then applied to the promotion of rural areas and to food and wine tourism.
In fact, during these first years of my career, I have been honoured to work with eminent scholars in the agribusiness sector (prof. Bruce Traill – University of Reading, prof. Pan Yotopolous – University of Stanford; prof. Donato Romano – University of Florence; prof. Mario Mazzocchi – University of Bologna; prof. Peter D. Goldsmith – University of Illinois), events management in rural areas (prof. Sue Beeton – La Trobe University; prof. Tommy Andersson – University of Goteborg) and, food and wine tourism (prof. Donald Getz – University of Calgary; prof. Steve Charters – Dijon Business School; prof. Alan Clarke – University of Pannonia; prof. Richard Robinson – University of Queensland). Thus, I had the chance to learn and apply a range of qualitative, quantitative and experimental research techniques and tools.
In light of this experience I have been selected several times by the European Commission as Expert Evaluator for grant applications (7th EU Framework Programme – Food and Consumer; Eco-Innovation Programme). Moreover I have been consultant for the evaluation of measures applied under the EU Common Agricultural Policy and for the World Bank.
In recent years I had the chance to develop an action research perspective in my research philosophy starting from real-world problems faced by local wineries, associations and public bodies operating in rural areas. In fact, I’ve been actively involved in stakeholder engagement activities and currently act as international coordinator and local facilitator in a couple of transnational EU funded projects: a Leonardo Transfer of Innovation called “Farm-Inc - Introducing marketing principles to the agricultural sector” and an URBACT project called “Gastronomic cities”, whose aims are to promote place branding of rural areas.
This activity realized a new mission for the University of Macerata, what can be called according to Trencher, “the role of co-creation”: the attempt to materialize sustainable development by working with different social actors to trigger and drive the sustainable transformation of the territory of Marche Region. To further this University mission, I co-founded with colleagues the first spin-off, or commercialized, company of my university.
These projects, if one side give the chance to bring a real contribution to the territory where my University is embedded, on the other side they can represent a precious source of collection of primary data among these stakeholders through surveys, brainstorming and focus group sessions, experimental analysis and in-depth interviews.
During the last years I had the chance to develop an international network, acting as Rector’s delegate for Erasmus and Internazionalisation: particularly I’ve promoted and finalised two Double degree programmes in Sustainable Tourism: one with the University of Oviedo (Escuela Universitaria de Turismo de Asturias, Spain) and another with the University Taras Shevchenko in Kiev (Ukraine). The relationships with colleagues from these Universities are crucial to build a mutual benefit among research, teaching and sustainable development of the territories where Universities are embedded.
From a methodological point of view, my specialization on consumer science is becoming extremely important in managing research and learning activities, involving different stakeholders. Recently, I’ve published a paper on "Qualitative market research: an international journal" with the title “Mind the “academician-practitioner” gap: an experience-based model in the food and beverage sector” that explains the model of mutual learning between researchers, practitioners and consultants I’ve developed with Cristina Santini and Lucia Bailetti of the Italian Center for Sensory Analysis. This model is inspired by the basic principles of experiential research and it is applied to the food and beverage industry. The basic idea is that thinkers and doers often do not speak the same language: many scholars have pursued the goal of reducing the gap between academicians and practitioners by introducing new research models or adapting existing ones. Because this model centres on experience, participant behaviours and beliefs can be elicited about a host of nondurable goods. Having entrepreneurs put themselves in the consumers’ position, and providing them the results of their experiment carried out through consumer science techniques with manipulation of information, can be considered the real value added of this approach.
Published: Nov 12, 2015
Presentation (italian language) From min. 26.20 and from min. 1.18.40