The Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Territorial Capital of Italian Regions
The recent worldwide economic crisis requires a new focus on the theoretical framework of analysis of local development. Particular attention has been devoted to the study of the role of territories, no longer conceived as pure geographic spaces, but rather an important resource that can generate externalities that favor local territorial competitiveness. Key concepts such as the â€œindustrial districtâ€ by the Italian scholars (Becattini, 1990; Sforzi, 1991; Signorini, 2004), the Marshallian â€œproduction clusterâ€ (Marshall, 1920) and the French districts industriels (GuÃ©gan e Rousier, 1989) highlighted the centrality of the intangible factors, peculiar to some territories, adding to the traditional production factors. The concept of â€œterritorial capitalâ€, that has become popular both among policy makers (European Commission, 2005) and scholars (Camagni, 2008; Capello et al., 2010), embodies these theories and suggests an innovative framework of analysis and measure of the assets that make a region attractive and competitive. In the Italian social and economic context, characterized by its regional specificities and excellences, it is particularly important to leverage these assets to boost the economy both at local and national level. In this paper, the authors provide a measure of the main components of territorial capital in the Italian regions, so as to provide a useful means for designing effective public development policies, which are now required to take territorial differences into major account. The possible structural effects of the last economic crisis on the regional endowment of territorial capital are also investigated. Taking the main dimensions of territorial capital (productive, cognitive, social, relational, environmental, settlement and infrastructural assets) identified by Camagni and Dotti (2010) as a starting point, several synthetic indexes are built, that measure those assets for all Italian regions. The impact of economic crisis on these dimensions is evaluated thanks to a dynamic analysis of the synthetic indexes, covering the period between 1995 and 2009. The main elements of discontinuity are also highlighted. This analysis has two main goals: on the one hand, to show a coincident and clear picture of the potential of Italian regions in terms of territorial capital in a comparative framework; on the other hand, the recent developments of Italian regions are described with respect to the structural effects of economic crisis on their territorial capital.
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