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 47: Industrial Districts, Sectoral Clusters and Global Competition in the Precious Jewellery Industry

Frank Pyke


Frank Pyke 1. Introduction Recent years have witnessed a growth in public policies focused on local economic development, involving the engagement of actors in promoting industry and employment at the micro-level. Geographically-concentrated sectoral clusters are popular targets of action. Such actions generally seek to help local firms be better fitted to meet the competitive challenges pertaining to their sector, and so must be sensitive to the latest industrial trends occurring inside and outside the cluster. These could, for example, include trends in consumer preferences, buyers’ sourcing strategies, regulatory developments, fashion changes, technological possibilities, and so forth. The importance for competitiveness of being tuned into changing global economic trends has been a long-standing feature of discussions of clusters. In fact, part of the reason why the Italian industrial districts (IDs) and their networks of clustered enterprises came to public attention in the 1980s and 1990s was because these local economic systems were perceived as being especially well suited to the major global trends of the time, in particular the movement away from Fordist mass production towards the break-up of markets and the organisation of industry on a basis of flexible specialisation (see, for example, Pyke, Becattini and Sengenberger 1990). Today, for district and cluster competitiveness, effective response to industrial trends occurring both upstream and downstream in the value chain is no less crucial. This is the case for the subject of this chapter: the precious jewellery1 sector, a truly global industry undergoing rapid change and where manufacturing clusters located along the...

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