The internal heterogeneity in industrial districts in Italy, Brazil and Mexico

Regional Studies, 33(2): 97-108

The paper is written in collaboration with Hubert Schmitz.

Industrial districts have attracted the attention of development economists in the search for new models of industrial development. Many case studies have shown that clustering helps local enterprises to overcome growth constraints and compete in distant markets. However, empirical studies also reveal shortcomings of the industrial district model. This paper shows that, within the districts, there is enormous heterogeneity by size and performance. Even though clustering firms feed on each other, they vary a great deal in the strategies they employ and the growth they achieve. This internal heterogeneity is investigated for three cases: the shoe industries in Italy, Brazil and Mexico.



Collective effects in Italian and Mexican footwear industrial clusters

Small Business Economics, 10(3):243-262

The focus of this article is on the analysis of the collective economic effects deriving from the intense set of backward, forward, labor, horizontal and institutional linkages existing within clusters of enterprises. Among the economic effects two main categories are distinguished: external economies, which are the spontaneous by-product of economic activities undertaken within the clusters and cooperation effects, which are the results of explicit and deliberate cooperative behaviors of the economic actors. In the empirical investigation, these economic effects have been analyzed in four clusters of footwear firms in Italy and Mexico. The first result of the empirical investigation is the confirmation of the importance of collective efficiency both in the ‘proper’ Italian districts and in the Mexican clusters. Nevertheless, there are considerable differences concerning the intensity and quality of the collective effects between the realities studied. Those differences are explained through the impact of the disparities in the outside environment on the core characteristics of the different clusters. Finally, some considerations about the need for moving from a static to a dynamic approach to explain differences between stages of development and growth trajectory patterns of the districts are put forward.


Enterprise clusters and networks as sources of cooperation and technology diffusion for small firms in developing countries

Enterprise clusters and networks as sources of cooperation and technology diffusion for small firms in developing countries

Published by Frank Cass

Edited with Meine Pieter van Dijk

This is a collection of articles on industrial districts in developing countries. It analyses the functions and advantages of clusters and networks for small enterprises in developing countries. In the opening chapter the editors describe different types of clusters and networks and compare the diverse forms of external economies and co-operation effects derived from them. Taking a multidiscplinary approach, they point out it is trust that is the social basis for positive effects of clustering and networking, which are often sources of co-operation and technology diffusion for small enterprises in developing countries.

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Is there an industrial district “model”? Footwear districts in Italy and Mexico

World Development, 23 (1) 29-41

In this paper we present the results of empirical research carried out in two footwear clusters located in Italy, the “land of industrial districts,” and two clusters of footwear enterprises in Mexico. The aim of the study is to present a comparison between the ideal-typical industrial district, as it is defined in the literature, and the case studies in Mexico and Italy. Material from a survey of clusters of firms in Italy and Mexico reveals how clusters in both countries differ in some aspects from the “textbook” model. Similarities and differences are- investigated in some detail, and attention is given to the intensity and quality of backward and forward linkages, the existence of an “industrial atmosphere” and the nature and extent of institutional support.