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Social sciences and humanities


degree course in ECONOMICS AND FINANCE

Course year 3
Teaching units Unit Economia e istituzioni dei distretti industriali
Economics (lesson)
  • TAF: Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class SSD: SECS-P/02 CFU: 6
Teachers: Margherita RUSSO
Exam type written
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language Italiano
Contents download pdf download


Margherita RUSSO


The course aims to place the notion of industrial district in the context of the international debate on the local dimension of economic development, presenting the industrial district as a concept able to understand a wider category of economic phenomena organized in space. In this framework we will refer to external economies, economies of agglomeration and networks of social relations, to outline the notion of industrial district. Particular attention will be paid to the tools of spatial identification of local labour systems and industrial districts. The examination of the factors of competitiveness of industrial clusters will focus on aspects within the boundary of the companies and on relationships between companies. In particular we will study: (a) the unique characteristics of companies operating in the industrial districts; (b) the notion of social capital and networks of competences in industrial districts; (c) the relationship between companies; and between systems of small, medium and large companies; (d) the characteristics of the innovation process in the industrial districts; (e) the institutions that support the systemic dimension of the district; (f) the policies for industrial systems of small and medium enterprises. We will examine the distribution and quantitative importance in Italy of local production systems of small enterprises and industrial districts. The dynamics of change in industrial districts and in local production systems will also be discussed through the analysis of case studies in a comparative perspective at international level.

Admission requirements

Knowledge of the notions of external economies, economies of scale, public goods

Course contents

The course is structured around five themes

Industrial districts in an interdisciplinary perspective (1. cfu)
- Communities of people and institutions in industrial districts. Business population: specialization by phase of production
- Human resources, skills, the market, competition and cooperation in districts
- Specialization coordination, similar and complementary activities

Industrial districts and economic development in Italy (2 cfu)
- Identification of industrial districts. Classification of economic activities.
- Transformation of the productive structure: 1951-2022
- Territorial gaps in the geography and demography of districts
- The regional gap in Italy in the last twenty years
- The rules of the game in districts: norms, cautions and rules of interaction, sanctions, conflict and participation

Firms and technologies in districts (1 cfu)
- Multinationals in the districts
- Digital transformation and Internet of Things

Regional policies and policies for industrial districts (1 cfu)
- Regional policies
- Real services for industrial districts
- The Italian National Plan for Recovery and Resilience (PNRR)

Uncertainty and innovation (1 cfu)
- Determinants of uncertainty,
- Implications for industrial policy
- Micro analysis and strategies

In-depth study of course topics
During the lectures, students will participate in activities to analyse industrial policies for digital transformation and climate change mitigation in the automotive industry (which will be covered in class) and construct a policy analysis scheme.
Each student will collect information from official sources (including interviews) on one of the industrial policies in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, Germany, France, and the United States (and other countries of interest). The collection of documentation and analysis must be planned by the student by mid-November, with a brief description of the case study to be published on the calendar that will be created on moodle. The sources of information will be entered into Zotero by each student and the information gathered must be entered into an online form by the end of November. The processing and analysis of the information - by the lecturer (first week of December) - will be discussed in the last week of the course.

Teaching methods

Lessons are delivered in Italian and there may be references to videos and texts in English. In addition to the lectures by the lecturer, in-depth study activities will be carried out with experts and in applied projects (which will be indicated in detail in class). The teaching is based on interactive, simulative and collaborative approaches. Students are expected to carry out individual study and in-depth study activities individually or in small groups for the collection, processing and analysis of data on in-depth topics involving the whole class. The in-depth work and critical analysis concerns the various topics presented in the course (e.g. analysis of the local dimension of economic development and the internationalisation of small enterprises, the entry of multinational enterprises into districts; innovation in services, artificial intelligence, digital transformation). The moodle or teams platform is used for the coordination of group work. Class attendance is required for those students who intend to carry out the analysis activities applied to the cases selected by the lecturer and the group work. Attendance is measured by the moodle platform in the "...I am in the classroom" survey. TStudents who have attended at least 75% of the classroom lectures will be considered to be in attendance. Through the moodle platform students' answers on the course topics will be collected, also for the organisation of exercises, small group activities. The recorded lectures will be available on the Teams platform at the end of the lecture period.

Assessment methods

The first compulsory part of the test (8/30) lasts a maximum of 30 minutes. It consists of two open questions (each graded by the teacher: 0 to 4 points). The penalty for not answering the open question is 4 points. A second part of the compulsory test (total 16.5/30) has a maximum duration of 40'. It consists of 30 multiple-choice questions (points for each answer: correct: 0.4; incorrect: -0.2; no answer: 0); 15 true/false questions (points for each correct answer: 0.3; wrong or no answer: 0); A third part of the test (out of a total of 6/30) concerns the realisation of three projects (to be delivered on the moodle platform): These projects are related to the realisation of the interview. The specific topics of the projects, the methods of execution and the deadlines for submission (approximately every 2 weeks) will be defined by the lecturer, explained in class and posted on the course Moodle page. Although they are not compulsory activities, the realisation of the projects and the interview during the lectures help to consolidate the specific knowledge acquired in the study of the subject. The topics of the projects and the results of the interviews will also be assessed in the multiple choice, V/F and open questions. Those who do not submit all three projects and do not carry out the interview will not be awarded the 6 marks. Those who hand in their projects on the three due dates (in the timetable) and take part in the classroom presentation will, in addition to the 6 marks, also receive an honours bonus (provided that all parts of the assessment test have been passed with the highest marks). For non-attending students, the third part of the test involves an open question, maximum 6 marks, on the course topics. The marks for the three parts will be added together and the test will be considered to have been passed if a mark of at least 18/30 is obtained. The results of the test will be available within two weeks from the date of the test. ---------- Please note that for each topic of the course, also referred to in the outline of the lectures available on the course website on the Moodle platform, the students have the specific topics on which questions will be proposed in the exam, according to the different types of questions: multiple choice, T/F, open. [an example of the question types will be illustrated in class at the end of the course]. STUDENTS FROM OTHER DEPARTMENTS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE THE EXAM

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding.
The student learns:
- The content of the concepts of local labor system, industrial district and industrial cluster;
- The fundamentals of the business co-operation through the critical analysis of the main models of industrial organization related to small and medium-sized enterprises;
- A range of industrial horizontal policies for small businesses systems.
Teamwork enhances learning and the effectiveness of complex analysis.
Ability to apply knowledge and understanding.
At the end of the course students will be able to query and analyse data from Istat databases.
Through knowledge of the manufacturing process, students will organize data relevant for the analysis of a system of enterprises.
Making judgments.
- The independent judgment to assess the benefits of competitiveness of a company belonging to a district or a network of companies and guide change through business strategies and public policies
Communication skills.
Through group presentations and individual examination, the student is asked to give oral and written concepts and analysis, formulated with adequate technical and economic terminology, on the issues raised in the course.
Learning skills
The acquisition of the tools of analysis is applied both in the critical analysis of theoretical contributions in the empirical analysis.
Successfully completing the examination, the student is able to deal with adequate preparation and autonomy research and insights in the later stages of the university course or professional.


I testi d'esame sono disponibili nella pagina moodle del corso.
Se necessario, altri saggi saranno aggiunti. I saggi che non verranno trattati a lezione saranno eliminati dalla lista dei materiali di studio

Becattini G. 1989, Riflessioni sul distretto industriale marshalliano come concetto socio-economico, Stato e mercato
Biagi, M. 1985 Sindacato accordi partecipazione tecnologica, pp. 341-46
Bianchi, P, et al. 2021. Regional resilience: Lessons from a historical analysis of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Italy. 1-25.
Brusco S. e S. Paba 1997, Per una storia dei distretti industriali italiani dal dopoguerra agli anni novanta, pp. 265-333
Brusco S. 2008, Le regole del gioco nei distretti industriali in I distretti industriali: lezioni per lo sviluppo. pp. 343-381
Brusco S. 2008, Distretti industriali e servizi reali, pp. 189-217
Cabigiosu, A. 2018, ‘Industria 4.0: Diffusione, Applicazioni e Rischi Nel Settore Auto’.
Davies, R. 2015, Industry 4.0: Digitalisation for Productivity and Growth. European Parliament. 22 settembre 2015.
Giardino, R., G. Solinas.2019. Controllo italiano, controllo estero. Cosa è meglio?. 75-114.
MISE, 2018 | aggiornamento MET 2020
Moretti, G. 2019, Politiche regionali per la ricerca e innovazione
Motohashi K. 2017, Survey of Big Data Use and Innovation in Japanese Manufacturing Firms
Richardson G.B. 1972, L'organizzazione dell'industria, Economic Journal, pp. 883-896
Rosenberg N. 1996, Uncertainty and Technological Change
Russo M. 2015, Distretti, piccole imprese e sapere diffuso nei sistemi produttivi della meccanica, 147-60
Russo, M. et al. 2018. Cinquanta anni di contrattazione di secondo livello: che cosa impariamo dal caso Lamborghini?
Russo, M. 2019. «Digital transformation in the automotive supply chain: a comparative perspective».
Viesti,G. 2021 L’industrializzazione del Mezzogiorno: le dinamiche del XXI secolo, In pubblicazione su Rivista Economica del Mezzogiorno, 2022