Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis
34. Banks’ localism and industrial districts Pietro Alessandrini and Alberto Zazzaro 1. Introduction The aim of this chapter is to examine the link between firms and banks within industrial districts (IDs). At first glance the importance of the bank–firm relationship in IDs appears consolidated and easily identifiable on two grounds: first, since banks are the chief interlocutors of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) both in ordinary credit relationships and in selecting investment projects, ID firms are largely bank-dependent; secondly, due to the distinctive characteristics of districts, known to be based on a close interweaving of relations among firms and with the local society, ID banks require in-depth knowledge of the local context and the local economy. The common conclusion is that banks are called upon to establish close relationships with firms, and that this role is usually played by local banks which have operated in small geographical ambits, with long-lasting relationships and in-depth cultural affinity with local firms. It is on the basis of such premises that the district stereotype of small firms–small banks has gained credence among scholars and observers. A fresh view of the bank–firm relationships in IDs leads to a drastic revision of this stereotype, in line with the insights we have acquired by studying IDs with a systemic and dynamic approach to the analysis of local development. Such insights take on particular importance for economies which are characterised by the presence of many local systems of SMEs and marked territorial imbalances in levels...
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