Industrial Policy and Artisan Firms in Italy 1945-1971
This paper shows that from the end of WW2 to the establishment of the regional governments in the early 1970s the Italian state carried out an artisanship policy (that is, for the smallest firms) of an extent that was unparalleled in Europe. This policy was based on the provision, on the one hand, of lower tax and employers' contributions and welfare benefits at reduced premiums and, on the other hand, of 'substitutive factors': soft loans, services and promotional initiatives by state agencies. Such an artisan policy played a twofold role: partly 'defensive', protecting a segment of marginal firms, and partly 'proactive', prompting modernisation and innovation of more promising firms. The latter were clustered especially in the industrial district of the centre and north-easte of the country, whose development turned out to be boosted to a significant extent by state intervention.
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