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Longevity’s factors in small-scale business system: An Italian case study during the 20th century


  • Ilaria Suffia


Firms’ survival and longevity have recently emerged as a new intriguing theme of business history, spreading from the initial studies on family business to all forms of business. In family business the transition to the next generation can represent a strong limit to survival, as it depends on three different longevity factors: the family members’ involvement and commitment, the preparation of an adequate succession planning and the presence of a competitive advantage. Temporal continuity has become an independent topic involving all types of business, with respect to size, ownership and sectorial diversity. The goal of the analysis was to identify the determinants of longevity. The present research moves along this second line of investigation, focusing on small-scale businesses and taking into consideration a case study. The small and medium-scale (SME) system examined is that of Sesto San Giovanni, one of the most important Italian Company-town during the 20th century, considered the ‘industrial district’ of Milan. The study first verifies the evolution of the local SMEs system, highlighting its development during the century. Having defined the context, the attention shifts to the temporal survival of local businesses and its determinants. Finally, the research includes the history of several enterprise experiences to illustrate the analysis’ results.

Suggested Citation

  • Ilaria Suffia, 2015. "Longevity’s factors in small-scale business system: An Italian case study during the 20th century," Working Papers 301, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:301

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    Economic History; Micro-Business History; Europe; 1913-;

    JEL classification:

    • N84 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - Europe: 1913-

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