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Transforming Industrial Districts: Large Firms and Small Business Networks in the Italian Eyewear Industry


  • Arnaldo Camuffo


This study is an evolutionary comparative analysis of how large, vertically integrated firms and networks of small firms perform, in response to the challenges posed by globalization. It focuses on the Italian eyewear industry which represents an ideal laboratory for studying the establishment and transformation of such diverse production models under ceteris paribus conditions (same industry, same challenges, same product, and same geographical location). Looking at longitudinal statistical data for the Belluno eyewear district and case studies of the four leading companies in the industry, this study demonstrates that, locally embedded networks of small firms no longer represent an organizational structure as robust and stable as in the past. Globalization challenges such networks and demands adjustments that transform the nature of the Belluno eyewear district, away from the traditional stereotype so widespread in the literature, towards a configuration characterized by the presence of leading firms and moderate hierarchy.

Suggested Citation

  • Arnaldo Camuffo, 2003. "Transforming Industrial Districts: Large Firms and Small Business Networks in the Italian Eyewear Industry," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(4), pages 377-401.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:indinn:v:10:y:2003:i:4:p:377-401 DOI: 10.1080/1366271032000163630

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. C. Antonelli, 2007. "Localized Technological Change," Chapters,in: Elgar Companion to Neo-Schumpeterian Economics, chapter 16 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Fritsch, M. & Lukas, R., 1998. "Innovation, Cooperation, and the Region," Papers 98/1, Bergakademie Freiberg, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
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    7. Michael Fritsch, 2000. "Interregional Differences in R&D Activities—An Empirical Investigation," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(4), pages 409-427, August.
    8. Michael Fritsch, 2004. "Cooperation and the efficiency of regional R&D activities," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(6), pages 829-846, November.
    9. Michael Fritsch, 2001. "Co-operation in Regional Innovation Systems," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 297-307.
    10. Audretsch,David B. & Thurik,Roy (ed.), 1999. "Innovation, Industry Evolution and Employment," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521641661, March.
    11. Audretsch, David B & Stephan, Paula E, 1996. "Company-Scientist Locational Links: The Case of Biotechnology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 641-652, June.
    12. Paul M. Romer, 1994. "The Origins of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 3-22, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Belussi , Fiorenza, 2015. "The international resilience of Italian industrial districts/clusters (ID/C) between knowledge re-shoring and manufacturing off (near)-shoring," INVESTIGACIONES REGIONALES - Journal of REGIONAL RESEARCH, Asociación Española de Ciencia Regional, issue 32, pages 89-113.
    2. David Jacobson & Francesco Garibaldo, 2011. "The Role of Company Networks in Low-tech Industries," Chapters,in: Knowledge Transfer and Technology Diffusion, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Hill, T.L. & Mudambi, Ram, 2010. "Far from Silicon Valley: How emerging economies are re-shaping our understanding of global entrepreneurship," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 321-327, December.
    4. Diego Campagnolo & Arnaldo Camuffo, 2011. "Globalization and Low-technology Industries: The Case of Italian Eyewear," Chapters,in: Knowledge Transfer and Technology Diffusion, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Giovanni Costa & Arnaldo Camuffo, 2014. "The evolution of human resource management in Italy: a historical-institutional perspective," Chapters,in: The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations, chapter 11, pages 269-299 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Paul L. Robertson & David Jacobson & Richard N. Langlois, 2009. "Innovation Processes and Industrial Districts," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Industrial Districts, chapter 21 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. repec:ris:invreg:0359 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Fiorenza Belussi & Silvia R Sedita & Tine Aage & Daniele Porcellato, 2011. "Inward Flows of Information and Knowledge in Low-tech Industrial Districts: Contrasting the ‘Few Firms Gatekeeper’ and ‘Direct Peer’ Models," Chapters,in: Knowledge Transfer and Technology Diffusion, chapter 3 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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