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Trust and Entrepreneurship

A West–East Perspective

Edited by Hans-Hermann Höhmann and Friederike Welter

In this innovative book, international scholars investigate trust and its role in relation to the entrepreneurial behaviour of small firms across a variety of institutional and cultural settings. The contributors draw on original empirical material from a number of West European and East European countries, highlighting the role of culture and the significance of a multi-disciplinary approach in researching trust and its importance in entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 15: Global Competition and Entrepreneurial Behaviour in Industrial Districts: Trust Relations in an Italian Industrial District

Gabi Dei Ottati


1 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 sixth section outlines an interpretation for the data gathered. The contribution concludes with some considerations...

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