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 51: National Industrial Policies and the Development of Industrial Districts: Reflections on the Spanish Case

Joan Trullén


Joan Trullén 1. Introduction The concept of the Marshallian industrial district (MID) expounded by Giacomo Becattini in his article of 19791 has raised great interest both in the field of economic analysis and in the field of economic policy. His proposal to replace the ‘sector’ with the ‘district’ as a unit of analysis for research led to a major advance in the understanding of a significant part of current industrial processes. The identification of industrial processes with increasing outputs in small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) environments opened the door to proposing a ‘new development model’ as an alternative to the one based on big companies. Since then there have been major advances in the theoretical, empirical and historical analysis of MIDs (see Becattini et al. 2003). Nevertheless, the progress made by industrial policies based on districts has been uneven: very considerable in the case of local and regional development policies; more limited in terms of national industrial policies. In effect, from the standpoint of public policies, the Marshallian–Becattinian approach has focused from the outset more on the local and regional level rather than on the national one.2 The unit of analysis itself focused on the local context, as well as on the nature of the external economies involved in the dynamics of the district; this has led to a systematic use of the concept of industrial district (ID) within policies for local and regional development. At the same time, in countries where SMEs dominate, with sector specialisations favour...

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