Four Italian Cases
Chapter 2: Industrial Districts and Firms
2. Industrial districts and firms F. G. Alberti The purpose of this chapter is to offer the reader an overview of main contributions in the field from its inception to contemporary literature, and to show its multi-voiced nature. After a review of the main contributions on the concept of industrial district and its main features, we focus on the so-called Italianate variant of the model, which is at central stage in our work. Finally, we show the reader narrower units of analysis in industrial districts’ studies, focusing on district firms, in order to proceed towards our main arguments in the conclusion of the book. 2.1. INTRODUCTION Industrial districts represent a fundamental basis for the economy of Italy, but they are also relevant economic phenomena for other different countries, where they may assume somewhat different socio-economical configurations (Markusen, 1996). A number of regions have been appointed as industrial districts, mainly because of their agglomeration patterns, growth and competitiveness, together with certain similarities to the model of industrial district provided by Marshall, or its Italianate variant. The most well known US examples are the regions of Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Orange County (see Hall and Markusen, 1985; Saxenian, 1994; Zagnoli, 1991) even if several others have been identified and studied (for example, Porter, 1998). Likewise, in the UK, districts have been identified in several areas, such as Lace Market, Leicester or Scotland; in France, Grenoble, Montpellier, Sophia-Antipolis, Roanne and the Haut Beaujolais are only a few examples, since some French institutes, such...
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