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 19: Web of Rules in Industrial Districts’ Labour Markets

Jean Saglio


Jean Saglio 1. Introduction Efficient labour markets are a major factor for the development of local firms in industrial districts (ID), since, like most small and medium-sized firms, ID firms do not internalize and control the regulation of labour and industrial relations. Most ID analysts would agree that such local labour markets (LLMs) are very active, especially in providing a pool and a supply of labour with the key skills needed within IDs; besides local entrepreneurs can also rely on a LLM where there is a high local labour mobility, and local customs rule earnings determination and labour relations. Paradoxically, whilst such a statement is quite well accepted, studies directly focused on exploring such aspect are quite rare (Daumas, Lamard and Tissot 2007, p.31). Marshall (1920) underlined this resource, which was later echoed by Kerr in his definition of labour markets: Employers are apt to resort to any place where they are likely to find a good choice of workers with the special skill which they require; while men seeking employment naturally go to places where there are many employers who need such skill as theirs and where therefore it is likely to find a good market. (C.Kerr 1954, p.98) Sebastiano Brusco, in his seminal 1982 essay, also focused on Emilia-Romagna’s labour market considered by him as a basic resource for local economic performance. He described a segmented labour market, where, as usual in such analysis, large firms with strong trade unions were the primary sector, whereas employees in small...

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