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The Ghost in the Attic? The Italian National Innovation System in Historical Perspective, 1861-2011

  • Alessandro Nuvolari


  • Michelangelo Vasta


In this paper we provide a survey of the long term evolution of the Italian “National innovation system” since the unification. . First we provide a broad reconstruction of long term trends by examining a wide range of quantitative indicators of science and technological activities in comparative perspective. Second, on the basis of this quantitative picture, we put forward a conjectural interpretation of the fundamental features of the Italian national innovation system. Our conclusion is that Italy has approached the process of Modern Economic Growth following a peculiar path characterized by a limited commitment to investments in science and technology in combination with low real wages and the intense use of unskilled labour.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 665.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:665
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  1. Freeman, Chris, 1995. "The 'National System of Innovation' in Historical Perspective," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 5-24, February.
  2. Boldrin,Michele & Levine,David K., 2008. "Against Intellectual Monopoly," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521879286, October.
  3. repec:bdi:workqs:qse_07 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Kleinknecht, Alfred, 1998. "Is Labour Market Flexibility Harmful to Innovation?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 387-96, May.
  5. Fagerberg, Jan, 1994. "Technology and International Differences in Growth Rates," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1147-75, September.
  6. Antonelli, Cristiano, 2003. "Localized Technological Change," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 200305, University of Turin.
  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. Akkermans, Dirk & Castaldi, Carolina & Los, Bart, 2009. "Do 'liberal market economies' really innovate more radically than 'coordinated market economies'?: Hall and Soskice reconsidered," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 181-191, February.
  9. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273, October.
  10. C. Freeman, 2004. "Technological infrastructure and international competitiveness," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(3), pages 541-569, June.
  11. Jan Fagerberg & Martin Srholec & Bart Verspagen, 2009. "Innovation and Economic Development," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20090723, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo, revised Oct 2009.
  12. Mario Cimoli & Giovanni Dosi & Richard R. Nelson & Joseph Stiglitz, 2006. "Institutions and Policies Shaping Industrial Development: An Introductory Note," LEM Papers Series 2006/02, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  13. Pier Angelo Toninelli & Michelangelo Vasta, 2014. "Opening the black box of entrepreneurship: The Italian case in a historical perspective," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(2), pages 161-186, March.
  14. Fenoaltea,Stefano, 2014. "The Reinterpretation of Italian Economic History," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107658080, October.
  15. Federico Lucidi & Alfred Kleinknecht, 2010. "Little innovation, many jobs: An econometric analysis of the Italian labour productivity crisis," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 525-546.
  16. Broadberry, Stephen & Giordano, Claire & Zollino, Francesco, 2011. "A Sectoral Analysis of Italy's Development: 1861 -2010," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 62, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  17. Nicholas, Tom, 2011. "The origins of Japanese technological modernization," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 272-291, April.
  18. Bengt-Ake Lundvall, 2004. "Introduction to 'Technological infrastructure and international competitiveness' by Christopher Freeman," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(3), pages 531-539, June.
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