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Industrial Districts and the City: Relationships in the Knowledge Age. Evidence from the Italian Case

  • Augusto Cusinato

    ()

  • Fabiano Compagnucci

The spatial implications of fordist and district-based patterns of development have had a profound effect on the debate about the role of the city. While the city is reputed to be the crucial provider of basic public goods within the fordist model, its role seems more nuanced, if not disputable, when the district model prevails. This disregard for the city is probably due (a) to the fact that the revival of the debate on marshallian districts has placed strong emphasis on the agglomeration economies internal to the districts themselves, while relatively omitting the urban ones, when not emphasising the burden of urban diseconomies; (b) to the countryside roots of most district pioneers. The quarrel was further fuelled with the advent of ICTs, the fragmentation of the productive processes and the possibility of displacing phases at a global level. The paper argues that this is only the early part of the history. The advent of ICTs has had not only functional although important consequences on the internal organisation of firms and industry and on economic geography as a whole; it has also, however, made innovation and knowledge ? rather than cost-saving policies ? the crucial drivers of the competitiveness of firms and local economic systems. The notion of knowledge has profoundly changed too, and the main change consists in the shift that is occurring from Learning I to Learning II, that is from the “production and accumulation†of knowledge according to pre-established codes, to its “generation and articulation†thanks to an endless reshaping of cognitive codes. On this prospect, while firms, places and regions are increasingly conceptualised as Learning II milieus, cities are proving to be a crucial and irreplaceable milieu for knowledge generation. As a consequence, it is becoming necessary to reassess the relationships between industry and the city. Within this new situation, industrial districts may suffer a severe condition of marginality from the central driver of knowledge generation, owing to their lack of internal competences in dialoguing with the city, and/or the lack of suitable mediators.

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Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa11p237.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa11p237
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  1. Tiiu Paas & Friso Schlitte, 2006. "Regional Income Inequality and Convergence Processes in the EU-25," ERSA conference papers ersa06p229, European Regional Science Association.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser, Jed Kolko, and Albert Saiz, 2001. "Consumer city," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 27-50, January.
  3. Andrea Morrison, 2004. "Gatekeepers of knowledge within industrial districts:who they are, how they interact," KITeS Working Papers 163, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Nov 2004.
  4. Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "Reinventing Boston: 1630--2003," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 119-153, April.
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  7. Michael Storper & Allen J. Scott, 2009. "Rethinking human capital, creativity and urban growth," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 147-167, March.
  8. Roy Thurik & David Audretsch, 1998. "Knowledge society, entrepreneurship and unemployment, The," Scales Research Reports H199801, EIM Business and Policy Research.
  9. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew G. Resseger, 2010. "The Complementarity Between Cities And Skills," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 221-244.
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  11. repec:ags:hiiedp:26350 is not listed on IDEAS
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