Handbooks of Research on Clusters series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson
Chapter 11: Industrial Districts: Theoretical and Empirical Insights
Giulio Cainelli 1 Introduction Since the 1980s, Italian industrial districts (IDs) have received increasing attention from both academic research and policy makers. Following the pioneering contributions of Becattini (1989, 1990, 1998), Brusco (1982), Brusco et al. (1996), Brusco and Paba (1997), Bellandi (1982) and Dei Ottati (1994, 1996), a great number of studies have focused on this topic (Bagella & Becchetti, 2000; Belussi & Gottardi, 2000; Belussi et al., 2003; Cainelli & Zoboli, 2004; Guerrieri et al., 2001; Paniccia, 1998, 2002; Rabellotti, 1995, 1998; Quadrio Curzio & Fortis, 2002; Viesti, 2000). Also Italian institutions such as the National Statistical Institute (ISTAT) and the Bank of Italy have conducted in-depth investigations of various aspects of these production structures (ISTAT, 1995; Bank of Italy, 1999; Signorini, 2000). Signiﬁcant eﬀorts, at the diﬀerent levels of government, have been undertaken to deﬁne and implement speciﬁc industrial policies for IDs in Italy. The most important of these resulted in national law no. 317 of 1991; the most recent examples are the norms introduced in the 2005 Budget Law. Although the feasibility of legally deﬁning IDs based on statistical criteria developed by ISTAT1 has been widely debated – and on which the above-mentioned law which institutionalized IDs has had little impact – the policy process is indicative of the importance of IDs for the Italian economy. In our view, there are two reasons for this increasing interest in IDs in Italy. Initially, and particularly during the 1970s, the interest in IDs was mainly stimulated by attempts...
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