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Life Cycle vs. Multiple Path Dependency in Industrial Districts


  • Fiorenza Belussi
  • Silvia Rita Sedita


The aim of this article is to shed light on the evolutionary process of industrial districts (IDs), evaluating the role of path dependence in their growth trajectories. We intend here to identify the districts' life cycles and the factors that influence the origin, development and maturity stages. Following an evolutionary economics approach, we investigated the path-dependence mechanism behind the evolution of IDs. By adopting a qualitative meta-study approach, the paper shows how different IDs have changed over time and how their growth pattern is partially determined by initial conditions and by heterogeneous capabilities cultivated by district firms. The analysis is applied to 12 case studies of Italian IDs developed in the literature, following the model of qualitative meta-analysis for theory building. The results provided add new insights to the present literature on evolutionary geography by indicating some key triggering factors. Our contribution shows that instead of a standardized life cycle, Italian IDs follow a multiple growth pattern in their development.

Suggested Citation

  • Fiorenza Belussi & Silvia Rita Sedita, 2008. "Life Cycle vs. Multiple Path Dependency in Industrial Districts," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(4), pages 505-528, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eurpls:v:17:y:2008:i:4:p:505-528
    DOI: 10.1080/09654310802682065

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrea Bonaccorsi & Paola Giuri, 2000. "Industry Life Cycle and the Evolution of an Industry Network," LEM Papers Series 2000/04, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
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