Issues of Governance and Upgrading
Edited by Hubert Schmitz
Chapter 6: How globalization affects Italian industrial districts: the case of Brenta
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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