SMEs and Competitive Advantage: a Mix of Innovation, Marketing and ICT. The Case of "Made in Italy"
Global economy is transforming the sources of the competitive advantages of firms, especially for firms embedded in local manufacturing systems. Based on the theoretical contributions to knowledge management and industrial districts, this paper describes alternative firm's strategies and upgrading options by exploring the relationships among innovation, marketing and network technologies. Starting from the analysis of the Global Competitiveness Report and the European Innovation Scoreboard, this paper focuses on the case of firms specializing in the "Made in Italy" industries (fashion, furniture, home products) to outline a framework explaining the new competitive opportunities for SMEs. Through a qualitative analysis,this paper presents four case studies of Italian firms that promote successful strategies based on a coherent mix of R&D-based innovation, experienced marketing and design, by leveraging on ICT.
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