Local Enterprises in the Global Economy
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Local Enterprises in the Global Economy

Issues of Governance and Upgrading

Edited by Hubert Schmitz

This book opens a fresh chapter in the debate on local enterprise clusters and their strategies for upgrading in the global economy. The authors employ a novel conceptual framework in their research on industrial clusters in Europe, Latin America and Asia and provide new perspectives and insights for researchers and policymakers alike.
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Chapter 6: How globalization affects Italian industrial districts: the case of Brenta

Roberta Rabellotti


6. How globalization affects Italian industrial districts: the case of Brenta Roberta Rabellotti 1. INTRODUCTION* The turn of the century coincides with a divide for the Italian shoe industry and more generally for the fashion industry. Due to increasing globalization, major changes are taking place: international relocation of production, increasing concentration in distribution, mergers of fashion firms and acquisitions of additional brands and the formation of financial multi-product giants (Saviolo and Testa, 2000). Nothing remains the same, not even in a long established industrial district such as Riviera del Brenta, a highly specialized and strongly export oriented footwear cluster, located near Venice. This chapter is concerned with the impact of these global transformations on local competitiveness in Brenta, one of the most important Italian footwear districts. The aim is to integrate the typical industrial district approach,1 traditionally focused on analysing the local sources of competitive advantages, with the global value chain approach which stresses that activities such as design, production and distribution are often located in different regions or countries (Gereffi, 1999; Kaplinsky, 1998). In the typical industrial district most of the activities along the value chain have traditionally been undertaken locally, and competitiveness of producers has mainly come from intra-cluster vertical and horizontal relationships generating collective efficiency, namely increasing returns from incidental economies of agglomeration and active cooperation (Rabellotti, 1997; Schmitz, 1995 and 1999). Recent changes in production systems, distribution channels and financial markets, accelerated by the globalization of product markets and the spread of...

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