Boundaries, Structures and Strategies
Edited by Andrea Colli and Michelangelo Vasta
Chapter 1: Introduction: Forms of Enterprise in 20th Century Italy
* Andrea Colli and Michelangelo Vasta GENERAL FRAMEWORK 1.1 One important issue which has recently captured the attention and the research efforts of both economists and economic historians has been the debate about the different forms of capitalism in the world today. The ‘variety of capitalism’ debate has involved scholars of different fields, from finance to management, from corporate governance to industrial economics (La Porta et al. 1999; Whitley 1999; Whittington & Mayer 2000; Hall & Soskice 2001; Morck 2005; Baumol, Litan & Schramm 2007). It is not easy to establish the starting point of this debate, which undoubtedly goes back to the explanation of the different paths of economic development (Gerschenkron 1962). The focus of the analysis was, from this perspective, mainly comparative. It tried to identify, by adopting a macro-economic approach, the national – basically institutional – determinants of the different paths of growth. Implicitly (and sometimes explicitly), when the comparison involved the advanced (Western) countries, the explanation of the different levels of development was linked to the internal structure of the country’s capitalist institutions, which regulated the economic system. Not surprisingly, this has recently become the favourite topic of those economic historians interested in the issue of the ‘great divergence’ between Europe and its Western offspring on the one hand, and India and China on the other (Pomeranz 2000; Maddison 2007). In this very last case, it is clear that the origins of this divergence are basically to be found in the affirmation of a capitalist culture which was established well before the...