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Labour productivity, ICT and regions: The revival of Italian “dualism”?

  • Simona Iammarino


    (SPRU, University of Sussex)

  • Cecilia Jona-Lasini

    (Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), Rome, Italy)

  • Susanna Mantegazza

    (Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), Rome, Italy)

Among the reasons underlying the slow economic convergence of some regions towards the national and the European Union average, the strong gap in technological endowment and innovation capacity has been indicated as one of the most important factors. The requirements of the current ‘knowledge-based economy’ and the contribution of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to socio-economic change are very likely to have a significant impact upon regional differentials in the European Union. So far, however, it is rather unclear whether the new paradigm will spur greater socio-economic cohesion or, on the contrary, stronger territorial polarisation. This paper looks at the distribution of ICT-producing small and medium enterprises in Italy, comparing structural variables – in particular spatial and sectoral dimensions - with labour productivity levels. Ultimately, the objective is to shed some light on the role that ICT-producing firms might play with respect to regional gaps in the Italian economy, traditionally characterised by geographical polarisation and imbalances which are among the most striking in the “Europe of regions”. The first result of our analysis (carried out by using experimental micro data) is that a linkage seems to emerge between high labour productivity and the IT industry. This is in line with the insights of the economic theory of technical change, suggesting that IT-producing sectors are those where gains in productivity are by far the most evident. As expected, the geographical location of firms accounts for a good deal when looking at labour productivity levels across sectors, casting some concern on the development perspectives of the Italian regional divide.

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Paper provided by SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex in its series SPRU Working Paper Series with number 127.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 10 Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:127
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  1. Baptista, Rui & Swann, Peter, 1998. "Do firms in clusters innovate more?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 525-540, September.
  2. Jan Fagerberg, 2000. "Technological Progress, Structural Change and Productivity Growth: A Comparative Study," Working Papers 5, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
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  7. Abramovitz, Moses, 1986. "Catching Up, Forging Ahead, and Falling Behind," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 385-406, June.
  8. Maryann Feldman & Roger Martin, 2004. "Jurisdictional Advantage," NBER Working Papers 10802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Rinaldo Evangelista & Simona Iammarino & Valeria Mastrostefano & Alberto Silvani, 2002. "Looking for Regional Systems of Innovation: Evidence from the Italian Innovation Survey," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(2), pages 173-186.
  10. Fagerberg, Jan, 1994. "Technology and International Differences in Growth Rates," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1147-75, September.
  11. Antonio Bassanetti & Massimiliano Iommi & Cecilia Jona-Lasinio & Francesco Zollino, 2004. "La crescita dell'economia italiana negli anni novanta tra ritardo tecnologico e rallentamento della produttivit�," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 539, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  12. Stefano Breschi, 2000. "The Geography of Innovation: A Cross-sector Analysis," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(3), pages 213-229.
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