Global Value Chains and Technological Capabilities: A Framework to Study Industrial Innovation in Developing Countries

Oxford Development Studies, 36(1): 39-58

The paper is co-authored with Andrea Morrison and Carlo Pietrobelli.

It presents a critical review of the Global Value Chain literature in light of the “Technological Capabilities” approach to innovation in LDCs. Participation in GVC is beneficial for firms in LDCs, which are bound to source technology internationally. However, the issues of learning and technological efforts at the firm-level remain largely uncovered by the GVC literature.
We propose a shift in the empirical and theoretical agenda, arguing that research should integrate the analysis of the endogenous process of technological capability development, of the specific firm-level efforts and of the mechanisms allowing knowledge to flow within and between different global value chains into the GVC literature.

ICTs in Industrial Districts: An Empirical Analysis on Adoption, Use and Impact in the Biella Textile District

Industry and Innovation, 14(3): 277-303

The paper is in collaboration with Tommaso Ciarli.

The aim of this study is to analyse the main determinants of the adoption and use of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and the relationship between ICT and the patterns of innovation in an Italian industrial district. The analysis is carried out on a database of 118 textile enterprises located in Biella, a well known industrial district specialised in medium to high quality woollen yarns and textiles, which have been interviewed following a structured questionnaire.
On the whole, the rate of adoption and use of ICT in Biella is rather low, confirming the results of other studies on industrial districts specialised in traditional sectors. Nevertheless, our analysis also shows that considering ICT as a general technology may be misleading. It is instead useful to disentangle among different ICT; in particular, there are significant differences between IT involving production, administration and logistic processes and communication technologies (CT). Moreover, we have tested on a smaller sample of 50 firms the hypothesis that adoption and use of ICT may positively influence innovation. Here, the most interesting finding is that different types of innovations, i.e. product, process and organisational innovations, are influenced by very different variables.


Business Development Service Centres in Italy: close to firms far from innovation

World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, 4(1): 38-55 

The article is co-authored with Carlo Pietrobelli.

The notion of ‘Business Development Service’ (BDS) is quickly gaining popularity among policy makers and scholars of management, industrial organization and development. Similarly, attention is increasingly paid to the institutions and centers offering BDS, as an essential part of the ‘local’ or ‘regional innovation system’. The paper analyses the experience of BDS Centres in three highly developed Italian regions, Emilia Romagna, Lombardia and Veneto, and evaluates their performance and contribution to the regional industrial, and notably SME, development. The paper is based on a survey of 30 BDS Centres and it uses quantitative together with qualitative evidence.

Download the pdf, JA WRSTSD 2007-01

Upgrading in global value chains: lessons from Latin America clusters

World Development, 33(4): 549-73

The article is in collaboration with Elisa Giuliani and Carlo Pietrobelli.

It has been shown that clustering helps local enterprises in industrial districts overcome growth constraints and compete in distant markets in advanced and less developed countries. Nevertheless, recent contributions have stressed that more attention needs to be paid to external linkages and to the role played by global buyers to foster upgrading at cluster levels. In this study, we contribute to this debate focusing on the analysis of the relationships existing between clustering, global value chains, upgrading and sectoral patterns of innovation in Latin America. We find that sectoral specificities matter and influence the mode and the extent of upgrading in clusters integrated in global value chains.
Download the pdf, JA World Development 2005-04

Clusters facing competition: the role of external linkages

Clusters facing competition: the role of external linkages

Published by Ashgate

Edited with Elisa Giuliani and Meine Pieter van Dijk

The book is a collection of papers on clusters in developing countries. The book explores the external sources of industrial cluster competitiveness and examines how they complement, integrate and substitute local, intra-cluster networks. The novelty of this book is to merge the cluster approach with two other conceptual approaches which have become increasingly popular in cluster and development studies: on the one hand, the Global Value Chains and their role in cluster upgrading processes; on the other, the National Systems of Innovation (NSIs) and their role in supporting the development of clusters in a national territory. The book explores these issues with empirical evidence from different countries in Latin America, Asia and the industrialized world.

«This book provides numerous and timely insights into new strategies for enhancing the competitiveness of firms and local clusters in the global economy. Replete with in-depth case studies across a broad range of industries and countries, this volume is must reading for anyone seeking to identify pragmatic as well as effective responses to the challenges of international competition today.»
Gary Gereffi,
Professor, Duke University, Durham, NC / USA

You can buy the book here

Technology and organisation in the Italian textile-clothing industry”

Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 4: 271-285

The objective of the paper in collaboration with Roberto Camagni is to draw some conclusions about the capability of the Italian textile-clothing industry to sustain the strong competition of the fast-growing industry in
developing countries, through the analysis of some examples of technological and organizational case studies of ‘best practice’.
Technological and organizational innovations have been adopted as key strategic tools for reviving and maintaining con~petitiveness in international markets. In this paper we have studied a number of enterprises, among the most technologically advanced within the textile and clothing sector and have analysed the impact of the introduction of information technologies on their organizational structure.