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Internationalisation strategies of Italian district SMEs: an analysis on firm-level data

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  • Ilaria Mariotti

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  • Giacinto Micucci

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  • Pasqualino Montanaro

    ()

Abstract

Traditionally, scholars describe Italian industrial districts (IDs) as closed manufacturing systems of SMEs embedded in local contexts, able to interact with the outside only at the two ends of the value chain and where well-identified firms were in charge of managing the relationships with final markets (Becattini, 1989; 2002; Piore and Sabel, 1984). However, at the end of the nineteen-eighties and during the nineties, even local systems of SMEs (IDs) perceived the importance of increasing their contacts with firms outside the local district area. The emerging delocalisation process carried out by Italian district SMEs highlights their abilities to globalise not only by selling products manufactured locally in international markets (export-based perspective), but also in terms of the international reorganisation of local supply chains. The purpose of the paper is twofold. First, we investigate whether the internationalization strategies by district SMEs are independent or complementary to each other. Second, we test if they are linked to the lack of low-skilled labour force. The questions will be addressed using data-sample of about 700 district firms (Bank of Italy database). The paper is organised as follows. A general introduction is followed by a discussion of the internationalisation strategies adopted by Italian SMEs. Section three focuses on the internationalisation process of the IDs and offers a review of studies on the subject. Section four presents an empirical analysis on the process as undergone by a sample of district SMEs. The results of the econometric model are described in section five and some ideas for further research are forwarded in the conclusions.

Suggested Citation

  • Ilaria Mariotti & Giacinto Micucci & Pasqualino Montanaro, 2004. "Internationalisation strategies of Italian district SMEs: an analysis on firm-level data," ERSA conference papers ersa04p436, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa04p436
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Head, Keith & Ries, John, 2001. "Overseas Investment and Firm Exports," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 108-122, February.
    2. James R. Markusen, 2004. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262633078, January.
    3. Ethier, Wilfred J. & Markusen, James R., 1996. "Multinational firms, technology diffusion and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1-2), pages 1-28, August.
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    8. James R. Markusen & Anthony J. Venables & Denise Eby Konan & Kevin H. Zhang, 1996. "A Unified Treatment of Horizontal Direct Investment, Vertical Direct Investment, and the Pattern of Trade in Goods and Services," NBER Working Papers 5696, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    12. Sergio Mariotti & Marco Mutinelli & Lucia Piscitello, 2003. "Home country employment and foreign direct investment: evidence from the Italian case," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(3), pages 419-431, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giuseppe Tattara, 2009. "The Internationalisation of Production Activities of Italian Industrial Districts," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Industrial Districts, chapter 48 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Ilaria Mariotti & Simona Montagnana, 2008. "Italian Investments In The Agglomeration Of Timisoara In Romania: Threat Or Opportunity For The Economic Development?," Romanian Journal of Regional Science, Romanian Regional Science Association, vol. 2(2), pages 33-59, December.

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