Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis
Chapter 9: The Italian Revival of Industrial Districts and the Foundations of Political Economy
9. The Italian revival of industrial districts and the foundations of political economy Renzo Bianchi 1. Introduction Research carried out on industrial districts (IDs) by the Tuscan group of researchers headed by GiacomoBecattini has produced results that can be analysed from two complementary viewpoints. The first of these aims to highlight how the process, which stemmed from the urge to adequately interpret Tuscany’s development in the late post-war period, led these scholars to rediscover, in Marshall’s thought, the concept of the ‘ID’ in a context where the so-called standard approach to economic development was heading in a totally different direction. They also rendered this concept both more flexible and pertinent when attempting to understand the new efficient production units that were at the core of the industrial growth in Tuscany (and in other regions located in what came to be known as the ‘Third Italy’) at the time. The second viewpoint aims at explaining what motivated Becattini and the other scholars collaborating with him to concentrate on the phenomenon of IDs and to conduct in-depth studies on this enlarging field. With regard to the early studies on districts in Tuscany, there is a wealth of literature that refers to the research conducted initially by the Regional Institute for Economic Planning in Tuscany (Istituto Regionale Programmazione Economica Toscana, IRPET) and subsequently by a group of researchers coordinated by Braudel in his Prato. Storia di una città (Braudel 1986–97). In addition to this, there was a parallel and systematic study of...
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