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Life Cycle vs. Multiple Path Dependency in Industrial Districts

Fiorenza Belussi and Silvia Rita Sedita ()

European Planning Studies, 2008, vol. 17, issue 4, 505-528

Abstract: The aim of this article is to shed light on the evolutionary process of industrial districts (IDs), evaluating the role of path dependence in their growth trajectories. We intend here to identify the districts' life cycles and the factors that influence the origin, development and maturity stages. Following an evolutionary economics approach, we investigated the path-dependence mechanism behind the evolution of IDs. By adopting a qualitative meta-study approach, the paper shows how different IDs have changed over time and how their growth pattern is partially determined by initial conditions and by heterogeneous capabilities cultivated by district firms. The analysis is applied to 12 case studies of Italian IDs developed in the literature, following the model of qualitative meta-analysis for theory building. The results provided add new insights to the present literature on evolutionary geography by indicating some key triggering factors. Our contribution shows that instead of a standardized life cycle, Italian IDs follow a multiple growth pattern in their development.

Date: 2008
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