Industrial Districts and Regional Clusters

Jonathan Zeitlin

in The Oxford Handbook of Business History

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780199263684
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

Industrial Districts and Regional Clusters

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  • Business and Management
  • Business Strategy
  • Business History



This article discusses the relationship between historians and contemporary social scientists. It considers the definition and conceptualization of industrial districts, their origins and sustainability, governance mechanisms, the influence of national institutions, and the nature of current transformations. The article is concerned with several issues. The first of these issues concerns the relationship between the districts and the wider world. Arguably, the self-contained character of the districts has been overstated even for earlier periods. The second issue concerns the changing morphology of the districts and the relationship between different sizes and types of firms within them. The final issue concerns governance and coordination mechanisms within the districts, which are by no means fully understood. Beyond the role of intermediate institutions, which is attracting increasing attention from historians in Italy and elsewhere, researchers might consider the contribution of product standards and accounting techniques in the coordination of economic activity within and across districts.

Keywords: social scientists; industrial districts; governance; national institutions; economic activity

Article.  10660 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Business Strategy ; Business History

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