A Handbook of Industrial Districts
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A Handbook of Industrial Districts

Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis

In this comprehensive original reference work, the editors have brought together an unrivalled group of distinguished scholars and practitioners to comment on the historical and contemporary role of industrial districts (IDs).
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Chapter 10: The Italian Revival of Industrial Districts and the Foundations of Industrial Policy

Anna Natali and Margherita Russo


Anna Natali and Margherita Russo 1. Introduction Problems of development were at the centre of the work of Sebastiano Brusco. Over a 30-year period at the end of the last century and in conjunction with a large team of collaborators, he made many fundamental contributions to the study of (mainly) Italian, industrial districts (IDs).1 Drawing particularly on the experience of Emilia Romagna in the 1970s, Brusco showed that a multiplicity of forms of industrial organisation could be efficient, if properly embedded in supporting social and institutional structures. He developed analytical and empirical tools on policies to help conceptualise a form of local development that was associated with the presence of IDs, and used these tools to rethink the effectiveness of policy instruments. This work was carried out in conjunction with a dialogue he had with trade unions in Italy in the 1970s on the one side and, on the other side, with an international scientific community that was then growing around the research on IDs and local development. Unfortunately, his premature death in 2002 has denied us his continued participation in a discussion that owes him much. But he has nonetheless left us a priceless legacy in his many and lucid writings, with their vivid demonstration that theoretical analyses and empirical studies can be fruitfully interwoven with research and didactic activity.2 Prior to launching on his studies of ‘industry’ and ‘labour’, to which he devoted his years at Cambridge (UK) in the early 1960s, Brusco found a cue for...

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