Italian industrial districts: A model of success or a weak productive system?
The present contribution focuses on two issues. The first one concerns the characteristics of industrial districts and the increasing weight of these districts in the Italian system of production. The second issue is about the competitiveness of the Italian industrial districts, if they represent a model of success or rather a weak system of production. Thus, the transformation of the industrial districts is examined and the strengths and weaknesses are highlighted. One argument that comes out of this investigation is that industrial districts are strongly influenced by institutions, territory, and also by the social and cultural environment. The second argument regards the competitiveness of this Italian industrial development model, based on SMEs, which is founded on the specialization of productions, on innovation and internationalization. The paper argues that this model, which represents the ``Made in Italy'', is still a strong and dynamic system which has shown good performances and it represents a paradigm of lasting competitiveness, even if it is restrained by many external chronic constraints.
Industrial districts; small and medium enterprises; competitiveness; innovation; local development; internationalization