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The effect of globalisation on industrial districts in Italy: evidence from the footwear sector

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  • Roberta Rabellotti
  • Alessia Amighini

Abstract

One of the most pervasive and disruptive effects of globalisation is the fragmentation of production processes across countries. This phenomenon is the result of delocalisation strategies pursued by firms in industrialised countries to counter increasing competitive pressures from low labour-cost producers in emerging economies. Many Italian industrial districts are deeply interested by this phenomenon. This paper will be focussed on footwear industrial districts. In the Italian footwear sector the increasing globalisation of production is imposing major changes on the organisation of production: · on the one hand, evidence at a national level shows that increasing international competition is spurring a massive fragmentation of production processes through delocalisation of labour-intensive activities abroad (towards Eastern European countries, mainly Romania); · on the other hand, evidence from a previous study of one of the author on one of the most important footwear clusters ? Riviera del Brenta ? suggests that the overwhelming presence of fashion firms and increasing concentration in distribution is limiting producers? control on some crucial activities, i.e. design, branding, marketing, distribution (Rabellotti R., 2001, ?The effect of globalisation on industrial districts in Italy: the case of Brenta?, IDS Working Paper 144, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton). Overall, these trends are reducing the range of activities carried out within the districts. Consequently, as firms in industrial districts enter international production networks, they are altering their traditional sources of competitiveness, which has traditionally come from intra-cluster relationships. This paper is concerned with the effect of globalisation of production on footwear industrial districts in Italy. The aim is to investigate the changing role of footwear districts within international production networks. The following questions will be tackled: which is the pattern of specialisation of footwear districts in Italy? Is there any common trend towards a reduction of activities carried out within the districts? Or, instead, are different patterns emerging for districts according to their segment of market and according to the value chains they belong to? The paper will explore these issues by analysing the pattern of fragmentation of production in the footwear sector at a regional and ?provincia? level, using data on outward processing trade (OPT) collected by Associazione Nazionale Calzaturifici Italiani (ANCI). This will allow to understand delocalisation strategies by location and to answer the question of whether different trends are emerging at a regional level. By matching this information with the geographical distribution of footwear districts in Italy, it should be possible to throw some light on the pattern of specialisation of different districts. As regards the other trend which might impact on the pattern of specialisation of footwear districts ? such as the emergence of big fashion firms in the luxury segment of the market? and which does not show up in the data, primary source information will be collected through surveys to producers in different footwear clusters, to complement the analysis above.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberta Rabellotti & Alessia Amighini, 2003. "The effect of globalisation on industrial districts in Italy: evidence from the footwear sector," ERSA conference papers ersa03p500, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa03p500
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Accetturo & Anna Giunta & Salvatore Rossi, 2011. "The Italian Firms between Crisis and the new Globalization," L'industria, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 145-164.
    2. Alessandro Spaventa & Salvatore Monni, 2007. "What Next? How the Internalization Process Might Lead to the Dissolution of Veneto's Low-technology Industrial District," Working Papers 0703, CREI Università degli Studi Roma Tre, revised 2007.
    3. Emanuele Breda & Rita Cappariello & Roberta Zizza, 2007. "Vertical Specialisation in Europe: Evidence from the Import Content of Exports," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 97(3), pages 189-189, May-June.
    4. Roberto Basile & Anna Giunta, 2005. "Things change. Foreign market penetration and firms’ behaviour in industrial districts: an empirical analysis," ISAE Working Papers 48, ISTAT - Italian National Institute of Statistics - (Rome, ITALY).
    5. Anna Giunta & Domenico Scalera & Annamaria Nifo, 2008. "Divisione del lavoro, crescita e divari di performance nell'industria italiana degli anni '90," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0097, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
    6. Anna Giunta & Domenico Scalera & Francesco Trivieri & Jeffrey B. Nugent & Mariarosaria Agostino, 2011. "Firm Productivity, Organizational Choice and Global Value Chain," Working Papers 2011R09, Orkestra - Basque Institute of Competitiveness.
    7. Anna Giunta & Annamaria Nifo & Domenico Scalera, 2012. "Subcontracting in Italian Industry: Labour Division, Firm Growth and the North--South Divide," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(8), pages 1067-1083, December.
    8. González, Andrea & Hallak, Juan Carlos & Schott, Peter K. & Soria Genta, Tatiana, 2013. "Insertion of Argentine Firms in Global Value Chains Not Oriented to the Mass Market: The Cases of High-End Footwear and The Basso Group," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 4253, Inter-American Development Bank.

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