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Encyclopedia of Technology and Innovation Management by Gina Colarelli O'Connor, V. K. Narayanan

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Chapter 50. The National Innovation System of Italy

Daniele Virgillito

University of Catania

Introduction

The aim of this chapter is to answer the following question: What kind of national system of innovation lies at the base of the Italian economy?

Italy represents one of the most successful examples of post–World War II economic growth. Over the past 45 years, productivity and per capita income have risen rapidly. Recently, Italian industry has shown a high degree of internationalization; manufacturing exports, for example, have increased approximately 9.7% between 2003 and 2007.In a relatively short period of time, Italy has been transformed from a semi-industrialized country to an advanced industrial economy, despite the fact that Italian international specialization remains closely tied to traditional products. To gain a wider understanding of the Italian system of innovation, we must consider the distinction, in terms of business facilities, between the developed northern and central areas and the weaker south. The structures of Italian companies (mostly small firms) must also be taken into account. The network of small firms, historically developed on local, regional, and vocational bases and characterized by capabilities accumulated through productive experience, has worked effectively and performed successfully over the past decades up to the present day. The success of the system is based on network relations between a large number of firms linked to each other by economic, ...

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