Informations and abstract
Keywords: Industrial Districts; Clusters; Industry 4.0; Manufacturing; Industrial Policy.
This article examines the changes that the fourth industrial revolution - «Industry 4.0» - has brought to that unique form of spatial concentration of firms that goes by the name of industrial districts (clusters). The question that motivates this paper is the following: how will the sources of industrial localization à la Marshall-Krugman («Labour market pooling», «Intermediate inputs», and «Technological spillovers») change in this age of Industry 4.0 and the Digital Factory? The analysis is developed in three stages. First, a summary of the main studies that examine industrial districts and their evolutionary dynamics in Italy. Second, an analysis of the primary defining characteristics of this new industrial revolution that hinges on the digitalization of the economy. In the third and final stage, the goal is to bring together the former two stages, trying to more fully understand the consequences of this new technological paradigm on Italian businesses: first and foremost, on the systems of smes (the industrial districts or clusters) that are so widespread in the Italian economy. One question will serve as the backdrop to each of the three stages, as well as to the analysis as a whole: are all industries equal in the eyes of the high-tech age? Or does mechanical industry, with its fined-tuned specializations (automotive, mechatronics, packaging, etc.), have a natural advantage - a kind of "first mover advantage" - in achieving this new technological paradigm? This question has special significance for our country, where the mechanical engineering industry has a leading role in Italian manufacturing.