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 14: Clusters and Industrial Districts: Common Roots, Different Perspectives

Michael Porter and Christian Ketels


Michael Porter and Christian Ketels 1. introduction In 1990, two books appeared which addressed the role of locations in com petitiveness and company performance. Industrial Districts and Inter-Firm Co-operation in Italy (Pyke, Becattini and Sengenberger 1990) discussed Giacomo Becattini’s notion of industrial districts (IDs), ‘socio-territorial en tities characterized by the active presence of both a community of people and a population of firms in one naturally and historically bounded area [with] a dominant industrial activity’. The Competitive Advantage of Nations by Mi hael Porter (1990a) presented a comprehensive framework for understanding c the competitiveness of countries and regions. It identified a prominent role for clusters, ‘geographic agglomerations of companies, suppliers, service providers, and associated institutions in a particular field, linked by externalties and i complementarities of various types’. While agglomeration of firms enjoys a long and rich literature, these two publications have had a significant influence on the field. They also influenced related work including the new economic geography literature (Fujita, Krugman and Venables 1999), which consists of microeconomic models to systematically analyze conditions for regional concentration to emerge, the creative regions (Florida 2002) literature that analyzed the ability of regions to attract a specific kind of human capital seen as particularly critical for economic success, and the literature on regional or national innovation systems (Nelson and Rosenberg 1993; Cooke 2001a), particularly concerned with business-science relations in creating innovations. Partly as a result of the two books, interest in the role of location has increased dramatically. Globalization, first believed to...

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