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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Chapter 2: Flexibility and Adaptation in the Formation of Three Italian Industrial Districts

Corine Maitte


Corine Maitte 1. Introduction The need to examine industrial districts (IDs) over a long period, and not simply in the last 50 years of their history, is shared by an increasing num er of b research rs.1 According to Alberto Guenzi’s hypothesis (Guenzi 1997, p.20) e the ‘indusrial atmosphere’ of a district is developed in the longue durée and t ‘the eco omic and social model of the current district is related to a production n method that prevailed in the secondary sector during the pre apitalist period’. c This does not mean, however, that we should adopt a teleological attitude in establishing a necessary link between precapitalist structures and the current districts. We should nevertheless attempt to define favorable local conditions, ‘capacities to evolve’ towards forms of district organization that are based on cultural, techni al, social and institutional knowledge as well as the experience c developed over the years in the area. This chapter undertakes a comparative study of the longue du ée of three textile cities: Prato in Tuscany, Biella r in Piedmont and Schio in Veneto. I shall not simply compare the choice of products, but also the develop ent of the pro ucion areas as well as the m d t adjustment of the social fabric and local instituions in the longue durée of t these manufacturing territories.2 These territories are fairly representative of the 18th-century Italian industrial expan ion, and quite surprisingly they continue to be major textile s centers today. They...

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