European and Planning Studies, 17(1): 19-41
The paper is co-authored with Anna Carabelli and Giovanna Hirsch.
Since the second half of the 1990s the Italian economy has experienced a significant slowdown in the rate of economic growth. The ‘dwarfism’ of its manufacturing firms, their specialisation in traditional sectors and their organisation in industrial districts have been identified by many scholars as major structural weaknesses in the Italian industrial system. Nevertheless, there is a vast and flourishing empirical literature showing that many industrial districts are actually changing in terms of sector specialisation, international and innovation strategies and emergence of new forms of enterprise organisation. In this paper, we provide a critical survey of the new and different patterns of industrial organisation emerging in industrial districts.