Boundaries, Structures and Strategies
Edited by Andrea Colli and Michelangelo Vasta
Chapter 5: Big Business and Italian Industrial Policies After World War II
* Francesca Fauri INTRODUCTION 5.1 At the end of the war, Italy’s productive apparatus had suffered only limited damage. According to revised calculations, the destruction of buildings, machinery and plant (including stocks) did not exceed 10 per cent of fixed capital (Zamagni 1997: 36–7). Coal provision was the most urgent and practical problem, as industrial production could not resume without an adequate supply of coal. Close co-operation between industrialists and government developed throughout the immediate post-war period, and gave priority to the resumption of basic industrial production. The government asked the Confindustria (the industrialists’ organisation, which represented their interests in the political and economic fields) to co-operate in the layout of the Piani di primo aiuto (Initial Aid Plans). A list of raw materials and fuel was developed according to the industrialists’ wishes. The co-operative effort continued with the implementation of the Marshall Plan, especially in relation to the complex procedures required for the purchase of American machinery and plants. All in all, 358 Italian firms took out a European Recovery Program (ERP) loan to import the most modern and expensive machinery to be found on the American market. These technological transfers, rather than being passively accepted, were selectively managed by Italian companies in order to respond to their needs, and were often integrated into their old production lines. Thus, US technologies not only modernised Italy, but were also made congruent with the Italian context. The Italian case shows the high level of indigenous technological capability that had been achieved,...
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