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Industrial Districts and the City: Relationships in the Knowledge Age. Evidence from the Italian Case

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  • Fabiano COMPAGNUCCI

    ()
    (IUAV - Venezia)

  • Augusto CUSINATO

    ()
    (IUAV - Venezia)

Abstract

The spatial implications of fordist and district-based patterns of development have had a profound effect on the debate about the role of the city. While the city is reputed to be the crucial provider of fixed social capital within the fordist model, its role seems more nuanced, if not disputable, when the district model prevails. This disregard for the city is probably due to (a) the fact that the revival of the debate on marshallian industrial districts (IDs) has placed strong emphasis on the agglomeration economies internal to the districts themselves, when not emphasising the burden of urban diseconomies; and (b) the countryside roots of most district pioneers. The quarrel was further fuelled with the advent of ICTs, and the feasibility of displacing productive phases at a global level. The paper argues that this is only the early part of the history. The advent of ICTs has had not only functional consequences but also an important impact on the internal organisation of firms and industry and on economic geography as a whole. It has also made knowledge and innovation the crucial drivers of the competitiveness of firms and local economic systems. The notion of knowledge has profoundly changed too, and the main change consists in the shift that is occurring within the industry itself from the ontological to the hermeneutical approach. According to this view, the main hypothesis is that the city is a crucial socio-spatial device for knowledge generation. The paper investigates this issue on both the theoretical and the empirical level by introducing a new analytical category - "Knowledge-creating services (KCS)". With reference to the Italian case, the outcomes corroborate the above hypothesis and open an original perspective on the relationships between the city and IDs in the knowledge age: the city is shown to be not only the gateway for functionally connecting IDs with the global market but also a true Knowledge-creating District. Within this new situation, a reassessment is needed of the relationships between IDs and the city, due to the misalignment that is likely to occur between competences in "producing" manufactured goods and knowledge.

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Paper provided by Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali in its series Working Papers with number 365.

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Length: 27
Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Handle: RePEc:anc:wpaper:365

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Keywords: city; industrial districts; knowledge economy;

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  1. Andrea Morrison, 2004. "Gatekeepers of knowledge within industrial districts:who they are, how they interact," KITeS Working Papers 163, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Nov 2004.
  2. Straubhaar, Thomas & Suhrcke, Marc & Urban, Dieter M., 2002. "Divergence - is it geography?," HWWA Discussion Papers 181, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
  3. Straubhaar, Thomas & Suhrcke, Marc & Urban, Dieter M., 2002. "Divergence - is it geography?," HWWA Discussion Papers 181, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
  4. Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "Reinventing Boston: 1630--2003," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 119-153, April.
  5. Tiiu Paas & Friso Schlitte, 2006. "Regional Income Inequality and Convergence Processes in the EU-25," ERSA conference papers ersa06p229, European Regional Science Association.
  6. Audretsch, D.B. & Thurik, A.R., 1998. "The Knowledge Society, Entrepreneurship and Unemployment," Papers 9801/e, NEUHUYS - RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM.
  7. Roy Thurik & David Audretsch, 1998. "Knowledge society, entrepreneurship and unemployment, The," Scales Research Reports H199801, EIM Business and Policy Research.
  8. Michael Storper & Allen J. Scott, 2009. "Rethinking human capital, creativity and urban growth," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 147-167, March.
  9. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew G. Resseger, 2010. "The Complementarity Between Cities And Skills," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 221-244.
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  11. Rafael Boix & Vittorio Galleto, 2005. "Sistemas Locales de Trabajo y Distritos Industriales Marshallianos en España," Working Papers wpdea0514, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
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Cited by:
  1. Simone LENZU & Gabriele TEDESCHI, 2012. "Systemic risk on different interbank network topologies," Working Papers 375, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  2. Alessandro STERLACCHINI, 2012. "Patent Oppositions as Competitive Tools: An Analysis of the Major Players in the European Market of White Goods," Working Papers 374, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  3. Ruggero GRILLI & Gabriele TEDESCHI & Mauro GALLEGATI, 2012. "Markets connectivity and financial contagion," Working Papers 382, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  4. Elena AMBROSETTI & Eralba CELA & Tineke FOKKEMA, 2011. "The Remittances Behaviour of the Second Generation in Europe: Altruism or Self-Interest?," Working Papers 368, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  5. Eralba CELA & Tineke FOKKEMA & Elena AMBROSETTI, 2012. "Links Between Transnationalism Integration and Duration of Residence: The Case of eastern European Migrants in Italy," Working Papers 386, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  6. Alberto Russo, 2014. "A Stochastic Model of Wealth Accumulation with Class Division," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(1), pages 1-35, 02.

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