Building industrial districts: do subsidies help? Evidence from post-war Italy

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The "historical alternatives" approach calls for research into the role of national institutions and public policies in the resilience or decline of industrial districts. Policies in support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were launched in various Western economies in the second half of the twentieth century. This article focuses on the paradigmatic Italian case and investigates the importance of government subsidies for SMEs on firms located in a southern and a northeastern district, between 1971 and 1991. This discussion deepens our understanding of the role of national policies in the reemergence of industrial districts in the decades of the Second Industrial Divide. It also indicates the importance of firms' utilization of subsidies and their ecosystem as complementary to the policy's effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-423
Number of pages25
JournalBusiness History Review
Issue number2
Early online date20 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • industrial districts
  • “Second Industrial Divide”
  • government policies
  • regional policies


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