Directions for the Sustainable Development and Competitiveness of Regions
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson, Börje Johansson and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 4: Industrial district hetereogeneity and performance: evidence from Italy
An industrial district (ID) is a socio-territorial entity characterized by the active presence of both a community of people and a population of firms in a naturally and historically bounded area (Becattini, 1990). In other words, IDs are geographically defined productive systems characterized by a large number of small and medium-sized firms that are involved at various phases, and in various ways, in the production of a homogeneous product. These firms are highly specialized in a few phases of the production process, and integrated through a complex network of inter-organizational relationships. A close relationship between the social, political and economic spheres further characterizes the IDs (Pyke and Sengenberger, 1990). The ID is a specific type of geographical cluster (Lazzeretti, 2006), defined by Porter (1998) as a geographically proximate group of interconnected companies and associated institutions (for example universities, standards agencies and trade associations) in particular fields, linked by commonalities and complementarities. Therefore the issues investigated in the chapter are not specific to the Italian IDs but are typical features of the geographical clusters localized in other countries.
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