The thesis wants to understand the relation between the urban competitiveness and the presence of industrial district in the area. This relation is particularly interesting because the increase of competition. On one side, there are cities that are pushed by the global flow of capital, financial and human, to pursuit new competitive advantages that allow them to be attractive. Especially for small and medium cities, it is impossible to compete in different sectors and the specialization of local factors became necessary. On the other side, the power of the IDs to boost the regional economy is putted at risk. Industrial district were the best case of how the SMEs could create economies of agglomeration without the necessity of a central control of the authorities. Economies of agglomerations make companies perform better compare to others outside the cluster and increase the productivity of the entire district. The goal of the analysis is to understand in which measure this spillovers influence the innercity and which kind of relations can be created between the agents in order to increase the number of employees, decrease the number of poor families and increase the foreign direct investments in the city. In particular the analysis focus on three important aspects of industrial districts, the dimension of companies, the geographical structures of cities and the performance of the districts. In order to have valid results, the analysis study all the Italian cities within an industrial district and compare their performance with a comparison group. The analysis is based on quantitative and secondary data collected by the ISTAT and FDI Markets and the dataset in analysed scientifically thank the use of statistical packages as STATA. The results suggest how the cluster theories tend to overestimate and oversimply the importance of the agglomeration economies. The analysis discover that in order to make a district influence the competitiveness of the city an equilibrium has to be found. This equilibrium is between big and small companies, specialization and diversification and between proximity and distance. First, cities, in which there are different companies’ structures, over perform the comparison group. When companies of the same sector exchange different organizational ideas, they make the city perform better at all the point of view. Second, the geographical concentration of different industrial districts promote urban competitiveness. In this case is the different cognitive background and knowledge create an exchange of ideas that contribute to the innovation process. Third, the good performances of the districts are necessary to create the inner dynamics that boost the cities’economy. In conclusion, the analysis reveal the possibility of industrial district to be engine of the urban competitiveness, but this has to be pursued with equilibrium, saving the heterogeneity of the region and structures.

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Karreman, B. (Bas)
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

Piperno, A. (Alessandro). (2016, September). Italian industrial districts and urban competitiveness. Retrieved from