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Productivity, innovation strategies and industrial relations in SMEs. Empirical evidence for a local production system in northern Italy


  • Davide Antonioli
  • Massimiliano Mazzanti
  • Paolo Pini


The paper aims to provide an original contribution to evaluating several kinds of relations between four areas of innovation activities - training, technology, organization, ICT (information and communication technologies) - and industrial relations and firm's economic performance. Quantitative evidence for a SME-based local production system is provided by exploiting two datasets: the first is derived from a direct survey carried out in 2005 collecting data on innovations, labour flexibility and industrial relations; the second is represented by a panel of official balance sheets data for the period 1998-2004. The analysis is divided in two consequential parts. We first examine the drivers of different innovation strategies and subsequently we exploit innovation indicators as potential drivers of firm's productivity. The results show that training activities and organizational changes have strong links with many industrial relations indicators, thus emerging as industrial relations driven innovations. On the contrary, ICT and technological innovation seem to be more influenced by firms' past performances than by industrial relations. The analysis on labour productivity drivers shows that training activities are the most relevant factors; then, ranked consequently, technological innovation, organisational innovations and, finally, ICT also appear to impact on productivity levels. It is worth noting that the role of ICT emerges more robustly when endogeneity is specifically addressed. Finally, the role of firm size seems here to be overshadowed by other drivers.

Suggested Citation

  • Davide Antonioli & Massimiliano Mazzanti & Paolo Pini, 2010. "Productivity, innovation strategies and industrial relations in SMEs. Empirical evidence for a local production system in northern Italy," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(4), pages 453-482.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:24:y:2010:i:4:p:453-482
    DOI: 10.1080/02692171.2010.483790

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Davide Antonioli & Paolo Pini & Roberto Antonietti, 2014. "Flexible pay systems and labour productivity: Evidence from Emilia-Romagna manufacturing firms," Working Papers 2014143, University of Ferrara, Department of Economics.
    2. Davide Antonioli & Paolo Pini, 2014. "Retribuzioni e produttività: un nuovo modello di contrattazione per fermare il declino," PRISMA Economia - Società - Lavoro, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2014(1), pages 79-93.
    3. Giulio Cainelli & Massimiliano Mazzanti & Sandro Montresor, 2012. "Environmental Innovations, Local Networks and Internationalization," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(8), pages 697-734, November.
    4. Paolo Pini, 2013. "Minori tutele del lavoro e contenimento salariale favoriscono la crescita della produttività? Una critica alle ricette della BCE," ECONOMIA E SOCIETÀ REGIONALE, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2013(1), pages 150-181.
    5. Antonioli, Davide & Manzalini, Rocco & Pini, Paolo, 2011. "Innovation, workers skills and industrial relations: Empirical evidence from firm-level Italian data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 312-326, May.
    6. Seri, Paolo & Zanfei, Antonello, 2013. "The co-evolution of ICT, skills and organization in public administrations: Evidence from new European country-level data," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 160-176.
    7. Davide Antonioli & Paolo Pini, 2014. "Europe and Italy: Expansionary Austerity, Expansionary Precariousness and the Italian Jobs Act," Working Papers 2014153, University of Ferrara, Department of Economics.
    8. Davide Antonioli & Massimiliano Mazzanti, 2009. "Techno-organisational strategies, environmental innovations and economic performances. Micro-evidence from an SME-based industrial district," Journal of Innovation Economics, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(1), pages 145-168.
    9. Davide Antonioli & Simone Borghesi & Massimiliano Mazzanti, 2014. "Are Regional Systems Greening the Economy? the Role of Environmental Innovations and Agglomeration Forces," Working Papers 2014.42, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    10. D'Amuri, Francesco & Giorgiantonio, Cristina, 2015. "The Institutional and Economic Limits to Bargaining Decentralization in Italy," IZA Policy Papers 98, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Francesco D'Amuri & Cristina Giorgiantonio, 2014. "Diffusion and outlook of firm-level bargaining in Italy," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 221, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    12. Davide Antonioli & Grazia Cecere, 2014. "ICT and environmental innovations in a complementary fashion. Is the joint adoption by firms economically visible?," SEEDS Working Papers 1514, SEEDS, Sustainability Environmental Economics and Dynamics Studies, revised Jun 2014.
    13. Shirokova, G. & Ivvonen, L., 2016. "Performance of Russian SMEs during the economic crisis: The role of strategic entrepreneurship," Working Papers 6454, Graduate School of Management, St. Petersburg State University.


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