Ian Taplin

Ian Taplin
Professor (on leave Fall ’15)

B.A. – University of York
M.P. – University of Leicester
Ph.D. – Brown University

Telephone: (336) 758-4880
Office: 004C Kirby Hall
Email: taplin@wfu.edu



After spending a year studying art and architecture at Oxford College of Architecture, I attended the University of York where I received a BA in sociology. Following postgraduate studies at the University of Leicester (M.Phil) and Brown University (Ph.D) I joined the Wake Forest faculty in 1985. Since then I have held visiting appointments at the Graduate School of Management, University of California- Irvine, University of Bradford Management Centre, Napier University, ESC Toulouse and am currently Visiting Research Professor at Kedge Business School (Bordeaux). At Wake Forest I hold a joint appointment in Sociology and International Studies and am currently director of the International Studies minor.

My research focused initially on work relations in the US coal industry and my early publications examined how the evolution of post world war II industrial relations were shaped by intra-union struggles as well as a legal environment progressively hostile to worker rights and on the job decision-making. From this early research I became fascinated with the rationale behind managerial behavior in the workplace and this led to extensive studies of the US clothing industry, particular the adoption of new practices such as team work. Such studies were placed in a comparative context with publication of two edited books that examined how a labour intensive industry such as clothing, located in high wage economies, was responding to the growing competitive pressure from low wage production sites in industrializing nations. My general interest in problems in the organization of work, particularly the link between managerial behavior and organizational change as firms evolve, led to my next book, Understanding Organizational Evolution [Quorum Books/Greenwood Press].

As the textile and clothing industry moved offshore, I focused my attention on new industries and for the past few years have examined the growth of the North Carolina wine industry. For the past 400 years people have struggled to make wine in the state, with varying degrees of success. However in recent years, the industry has seen considerable growth and is seen by some as a possible alternative to tobacco. I am particularly interested in how entrepreneurial activity in this infant industry is shaped by changing product demand conditions and the emergence of a wine cluster that facilitates knowledge sharing amongst key actors. From this research I have published a number of articles plus a book entitled The Modern American Wine Industry: Market Formation and Growth in North Carolina (Pickering & Chatto Publishers).

This network research parallels another research project—an analysis of the changing competitive landscape amongst ultra-premium wineries in Napa Valley, California. Here the focus has initially been on mapping network interactions as the region established its legitimacy in the 1980s and 1990s and how that has changed in recent years.  Examining cult wineries has recently brought me back to work on the clothing industry, particularly the upper echelons of luxury goods. I am currently writing a book that examines how recent patterns of concentration in the luxury goods industry has transformed the historical artisanal nature of the sector. Large conglomerate firms dominate the marketplace and pursue strategies of providing affordable entry level luxury goods aimed at a broader market of consumers in addition to catering to an ultra-rich elite.

In addition to editorial board responsibilities on several journals, since 2001 I have been the North American Editor of the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management.



SOC 152:  Social Problems
SOC 303:  Business and Society
SOC 362:  Work, Conflict and Change
SOC/INS 363: Global Capitalism
SOC/INS 365: Technology, Culture, and Change

INS 250:  Seminar in International Studies
INS 260:  Global Trade and Commerce Studies
Business Strategy in the Summer Management Program
International Business and Strategy in the Wake Forest University MBA program