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 41: The Industrial District Model: Relevance for Developing Countries in the Context of Globalisation

Anne Caroline Posthuma


Anne Caroline Posthuma* 1. Introduction Does the industrial districts (IDs) model propose an approach relevant to developing countries, in their pursuit of competitive industrial and small enterprise development, especially in the context of globalisation? This chapter traces how the ID model, based originally upon the specific experience of the Third Italy, led to the development of a rich body of case studies that identified the existence of similar structures in other advanced industrialised countries. The ID model was taken up by some national governments and international agencies as a policy approach for the promotion of competitive small enterprise development. Subsequently, the ID model awakened interest among developing country researchers, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) support agencies and policymakers, where important empirical studies and policy initiatives have been elaborated around this concept. The chapter highlights three features that are central to the ID model: territoriality; the role of public and private institutions and relations; and a virtuous cycle between specialised firms requiring skilled labour and the supply of those skilled workers with the backing of active trade unions, thereby supporting the attainment of quality production with quality employment. An important distinction exists between the definitions of clusters and IDs. While it is not the aim of this chapter to address such a distinction in detail, nevertheless, a short-hand description might characterise clusters as territoriallybound agglomerations of firms within the same sector. Meanwhile, IDs also include area-based sectoral concentrations of firms, but crucially involve a thickening of institutional structures and socio-economic and...

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