Forms of Enterprise in 20th Century Italy
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Forms of Enterprise in 20th Century Italy

Boundaries, Structures and Strategies

Edited by Andrea Colli and Michelangelo Vasta

Taking an historical perspective, this unique book highlights the evolution of the many diverse forms of business enterprise, and discusses the contribution of these different types of firm to the economic growth of Italy.
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Chapter 4: Foreign Enterprises (1913–72)

Andrea Colli


* Andrea Colli ISSUES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS This chapter deals with the history of foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the Italian manufacturing industry during the first three-quarters of the 20th century. A comprehensive reconstruction of the historical evolution of the presence of foreign capital should help to answer questions concerning the external contribution to Italy’s catching-up process, highlighting the contribution of exogenous capabilities and competences to the process of Italian economic development, often seen by the dominant historiography as basically endogenous – i.e., based upon indigenous entrepreneurial forces and on pervasive state intervention (see, for instance, Amatori & Colli 1999). As recognised by the empirical and theoretical research on foreign investments (see, for example, Jones 2005, Chapter 10), multinationals and, more generally, international companies play an important role in the transference of new technology, administrative practices and organisational structures. In order to exploit their ownership advantages, they propagate ‘hardware’ as well as ‘software’ capabilities, thereby providing benchmarks against which indigenous competitors can assess themselves. This chapter provides quantitative evidence to assess these issues in the case of Italy. This chapter is organised as follows: the next section (4.2) will provide the background of the research, briefly introducing the dataset upon which the study has been built. In Sections 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5, the emerging evidence will be discussed in the light of the available literature and research. In the final section (4.6), some conclusions are drawn in the light of Dunning’s eclectic paradigm (Dunning 1993). 4.2 BACKGROUND In an international comparison with her...

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