Informations and abstract
The aim of this paper is twofold. First of all, we analyse the extent, the main features, and the reasons behind the formation and the evolution of business groups within the main industrial districts of Emilia-Romagna. Secondly, we show that the evolution undertaken by these industrial districts in recent years raises the issue of a rethinking of the theoretical concept of industrial district. In particular, our investigation suggests that it should be to taken into account a unit of analysis capable of capturing the role of ownership linkages among firms within these production structures. In this sense, the paper proposes a new taxonomy of business groups which shows the quantitative and qualitative role played by the so-called "district business groups". The choice of Emilia-Romagna as our research field depends on the fact that this production system represents in a number of ways a paradigmatic model of local capitalism, combining the large-scale presence of industrial districts with marked social cohesion and a particularly efficient system of local institutions and intermediate organisations. For this reason, this paper has a more ambitious and general aim: that is, to show the evolution of a particular form of local capitalism and to stress the need for a revision of both the theoretical concepts and the empirical methodologies employed to analyse and interpret the new forms of the Italian local capitalism.