Towards a Theory of Internationalization
Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Isabell M. Welpe, Mary Han and Vanessa Ratten
Chapter 21: Italian SME International Strategies: State of the Art and Some Empirical Evidences
1 Alberto Mattiacci, Christian Simoni and Lorenzo Zanni Introduction The aim of this chapter is to analyse the role of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Italy and their recent competitive strategies facing globalization. In particular, we focus on ﬁrms in the fashion business considered in a broad sense (textile, apparel, shoes, leather goods, gold and jewellery). ‘Made in Italy’ – and particularly ‘in Tuscany’ – has strong market power and a worldwide known reputation in the fashion industry (ﬁrms such as Gucci, Prada and Ferragamo are located in Tuscany). Nevertheless, after years of constant growth, the Italian fashion industry has steadily slowed down, partly as a consequence of a negative international conjuncture and of the emergence of new competitors (such as China). In this changed competitive scenario, we focus on a few speciﬁc research objectives, summarized in the following research questions: 1. 2. Among the numerous relevant variables, what are the peculiarities of Italian SMEs? Among the competitive dynamics of the fashion business, how important is the territory and belonging to a local cluster, in diﬀerentiating ﬁrm performances; to what extent does it inﬂuence the entrepreneurial development? Within the above-mentioned clusters, do ﬁrms have homogeneous or diﬀerent structural characteristics and behaviours? In the case of diﬀerences, is it possible to identify business typologies? At ﬁrst glance, a few ‘leading ﬁrms’ seem to play a primary role in the local development process and to be characterized by a diﬀerent endowment of resources and competencies when compared...
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