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The Internal Heterogeneity of Industrial Districts in Italy, Brazil and Mexico


  • Roberta Rabellotti
  • Hubert Schmitz


RABELLOTTI R. and SCHMITZ H. (1999) The internal heterogeneity of industrial districts in Italy, Brazil and Mexico, Reg. Studies 33 , 97-108. Industrial districts have attracted the attention of development economists in the search for new models of industrial development. Many case studies have shown that clustering helps local enterprises to overcome growth constraints and compete in distant markets. However, empirical studies also reveal shortcomings of the industrial district model. This paper shows that, within the districts, there is enormous heterogeneity by size and performance. Even though clustering firms feed on each other, they vary a great deal in the strategies they employ and the growth they achieve. This internal heterogeneity is investigated for three cases: the shoe industries in Italy, Brazil and Mexico. RABELLOTTI R. et SCHMITZ H. (1999) La heterogeneite interne des zones industrielles en Italie, au Bresil et au Mexique, Reg. Studies 33 , 97-108. Les zones industrielles ont attire l'attention des economistes de developpement a la recherche de nouveaux modeles du developpement industriel. Nombreuses sont les etudes de cas qui ont demontre comment le processus d'agglomeration aide les entreprises locales a surmonter les contraintes de croissance et a prendre pied sur les marches exterieurs. Toujours est-il que les etudes empiriques laissent voir certains points faibles du modele des zones industrielles. Cet article montre la variation importante au sein des zones de la heterogeneite en fonction de la taille et de la performance. Bien que les entreprises agglomerees dependent les unes des autres, elles varient sensiblement pour ce qui est des strategies qu'elles mettent en oeuvre et de la croissance qu'elles realisent. On examine la heterogene ´ite a partir de trois etudes de cas: a savoir, l'industrie de la chaussure en Italie, au Bresil et au Mexique. RABELLOTTI R. und SCHMITZ H. (1999) Die interne Ungleichartigkeit von Industriegebieten in Italien, Brasilien und Mexiko, Reg. Studies 33 , 97-108. Industriegebiete haben die Aufmerksamkeit von Wirtschaftswissenschaftlern mit besonderem Interesse in Entwicklungsfragen auf sich gezogen, die auf der Suche nach neuen Modellen der industriellen Entwicklung sind. Viele Fallstudien haben bereits aufgezeigt, dass Kluster den Unternehmen am Orte helfen, Wachstumsbeschrankungen zu uberwinden und in entfernten Markten zu konkurrien. Empirische Studien zeigen allerdings auch Mangel des Industriegebietsmodells auf. Dieser Aufsatz zeigt, dass es innerhalb der Gebiete enorme Unterschiede in Unternehmensgrosse und Leistung gibt. Obschon Firmen in Klustern sich gegenseitig unterstutzen, unterscheiden sie sich sehr in den Strategien, die zur Anwendung gelangen, und im Wachstum, das sie erreichen. Es werden drei Falle interner Ungleichartigkeit untersucht: die Schuhindustrien in Italien, Brasilien und Mexico.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberta Rabellotti & Hubert Schmitz, 1999. "The Internal Heterogeneity of Industrial Districts in Italy, Brazil and Mexico," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(2), pages 97-108.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:33:y:1999:i:2:p:97-108 DOI: 10.1080/00343409950122909

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rabellotti, Roberta, 1995. "Is there an "industrial district model"? Footwear districts in Italy and Mexico compared," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 29-41, January.
    2. Schmitz, Hubert, 1995. "Small shoemakers and fordist giants: Tale of a supercluster," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 9-28, January.
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    3. Elisa Giuliani, 2016. "Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility in Developing Countries’ Industrial Clusters," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 39-54, January.
    4. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Eduardo I. Palavicini-Corona, 2012. "Does local economic development really work? Assessing LED across Mexican municipalities," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1224, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Nov 2012.
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    8. Rafael Boix & Joan Trullén, 2009. "Industrial Districts, Innovation and I-district Effect: Territory or Industrial Specialization?," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(10), pages 1707-1729, February.
    9. Gebreeyesus, Mulu & Mohnen, Pierre, 2013. "Innovation Performance and Embeddedness in Networks: Evidence from the Ethiopian Footwear Cluster," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 302-316.
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    15. Molina-Morales, F. Xavier, 2001. "European industrial districts: Influence of geographic concentration on performance of the firm," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 277-294.
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    19. Helmsing, A.H.J., 1999. "Flexible specialisation, clusters and industrial districts and 'second' and 'third generation' regional policies," ISS Working Papers - General Series 19050, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    20. Jonathan Brookfield, 2008. "Firm Clustering and Specialization: A Study of Taiwan’s Machine Tool Industry," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 405-422, April.
    21. Fiorenza Belussi & Alessia Sammarra, 2006. "Evolution and Relocation in Fashion-led Italian Districts: Evidence from two Case-Studies," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0023, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    22. Roberta Capello, 1999. "Spatial Transfer of Knowledge in High Technology Milieux: Learning Versus Collective Learning Processes," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(4), pages 353-365.


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