A West–East Perspective
Edited by Hans-Hermann Höhmann and Friederike Welter
Chapter 15: Global Competition and Entrepreneurial Behaviour in Industrial Districts: Trust Relations in an Italian Industrial District
15. Global competition and entrepreneurial behaviour in industrial districts: trust relations in an Italian industrial district1 Gabi Dei Ottati The whole mechanism of society rests on confidence: it permeates all life, like the air we breathe, and its services are apt to be taken for granted and ignored like those of fresh air, until attention is forcibly attracted by their failure. (Marshall 1923, p. 165) INTRODUCTION This contribution considers the role played by trust in the functioning and reproduction of the industrial district as a dynamic local system. Various theoretical papers on the subject exist (for example, Becattini 1990; Brusco 1995; Dei Ottati 1994a; Lorenz 1992). However, there is hardly any record of empirical research on this theme.2 This chapter tries to fill this gap in part by presenting the results of a survey aimed at analysing the current relationships of trust between entrepreneurs in the industrial district of Prato, which, like the other local systems, for some time now has had to face the challenges of the so-called globalisation. The contribution is laid out as follows. The next section summarises the model of the industrial district and the role that trust plays in it. The third section outlines the essential features of Prato’s textile district and of the empirical survey carried out there. In the following two sections the results of this survey are analysed, referring respectively to the subcontracting relations and to the role of institutions (formal and informal) in promoting an environment characterised by widespread trust. The...
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