A Handbook of Industrial Districts
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A Handbook of Industrial Districts

Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis

In this comprehensive original reference work, the editors have brought together an unrivalled group of distinguished scholars and practitioners to comment on the historical and contemporary role of industrial districts (IDs).
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Alberto Guenzi


SECTION 1 Early industrial districts Introduction Alberto Guenzi 1. tHE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON IDs In the processes of formation and establishment of industrial districts (IDs), the historical perspective is of particular significance: not only should we look at what has happened within the system of enterprises but especially at what has happened in the location where the district is rooted. Attention should be focused not only on the economic performance but also on the quality of the functioning of the society in that particular place (institutions and organizations). However, the location is not simply a container that houses business systems intrinsically linked to society; it is a space that changes in time, due to the actions of enterprises, social bodies and institutions. The location of the district must not be perceived as a natural expression of the historical process, but as the artificial construction of the conditions of context suited to encouraging manufacturing as a factor of growth but also of general development. The theme of artificiality (that is, the presence of a conscious development project) deserves an emphasis that would permit, among other things, to take distance from the paradigm that mechanically connects the birth of the districts to endogenous or exogenous causes. In the various explanations of the formation of IDs – rural proto-industry, the creation of a large company, exploitation of a local resource, disintegration of métayage (sharecropping) – a question must be asked: why there and not elsewhere? In other words, there are many places that provide...

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