Forms of Enterprise in 20th Century Italy

Forms of Enterprise in 20th Century Italy

Boundaries, Structures and Strategies

Edited by Andrea Colli and Michelangelo Vasta

Taking an historical perspective, this unique book highlights the evolution of the many diverse forms of business enterprise, and discusses the contribution of these different types of firm to the economic growth of Italy.

Chapter 11: The Medium-sized Manufacturing Enterprise (1927–81)

Fabio Lavista

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, industrial organisation


* Fabio Lavista INTRODUCTION 11.1 The evolution of the Italian economy until the Second World War led to a dualistic industrial structure, determined by a small group of public and private large-sized enterprises, which operated in the capital-intensive basic sectors, and a large number of small-sized firms, which autonomously grew, developing more traditional labour-intensive activities, which were scarcely influenced by either the public policies or the decisions of the main national financial centres.1 Even the subsequent developments, during the years of the so-called Italian Economic Miracle, did not radically change this distribution: at the beginning of the 1960s, the industrial structure of Italy still shared some characteristics with those of under-developed countries. In particular, it was possible to register a significant delay in the process of dimensional convergence towards large-scale production which, in contrast, was common to other European countries (Fuà 1977; Barbetta 1989). During the 1970s, the situation radically changed both at national and at international level, but not in the direction hoped for by the advocates of the dimensional growth. Throughout this decade, in fact, a series of exogenous and endogenous shocks – the former, associated with the technological transformations, with the petroleum crises (which mainly penalised the energy-intensive sectors), with the increasing integration of the markets, and the equally sudden increase in macro-economic instability; the latter with the gradual tightening of the work factor and the progressive saturation of the internal market – favoured the crisis of public enterprises and the withdrawal of the large private enterprises,2 thus simultaneously...

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