Competitive Advantages and Metropolitan Growth: The Case of the Turin Manufacturing System

  • Sergio Conti Conti University of Turin
Keywords: Clusters, Local Competitiveness, Urban Regeneration Strategies, Technological Innovation, Local Development Agencies, Networks, Value Systems


The most recent initiatives of cluster strategy analysis and implementation to revitalize Turin metropolitan region are illustrated in this paper. Theoretical and methodological, analytical and political assumptions interweave inextricably. First, the problem of regional competitive advantage and the underlying logics of interpretation are established as the expression of the structural dynamics that involve the contemporary economy. The quantitative and qualitative methodologies that were used to outline the existence of clusterized business systems in the Turin region are then examined by breaking down the Turin manufacturing system into eight clusters of three different types: a) strategic, b) innovative, c) traditional. Starting from the clusters identified, the logics of interpretation of the Turin system is grasped and, as a consequence, the strategies of political intervention. The problems of implementation of an industrial policy are then examined, centered on the creation of 'Cluster Observatories', the reorganization of the local economic and urban planning offices, and the establishment of a special agency for industrial policy.


Asheim, B.T. and Isaksen, A. (1997) Location, innovation and agglomeration: Towards regional innovation systems in Norway? European Planning Studies, 5 :299-330.

Bagnasco, A. (1996) Torino, Un Profilo Sociologico. Torino: Einaudi.

Bottiglieri, B. e Ceri, P. (a cura di) (1987), La cultura del lavoro. I;esperienza di Torino nel quadro europeo. Bologna: Mulino.

C.E.C. (1994) Competitiveness and Cohesion: Trends in the Regions. Brussels.

Conti, S. and Enrietti, A. (1995) The Italian automobile industry and the case of Fiat: One country, one company, one market? In Hudson, R. and Schamp, E.W. (eds.) Towards a New Map of Automobile Manufacturing in Europe? New Production Concepts and Spatial Restructuring. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 117-46.

Cooke, P. and Morgan, K. (1993) The network paradigm: New departures in corporate and regional development. Environment and Planning D, 11:543-64.

Doeringer, P. and Terkla, D. (1990) How intangible factors contribute to economic development. World Development, 18:295-308.

Dosi, A. et al. (1988) Technical Change and Economic Theory. London: Pinter.

Dunford, N. (1994) Winners and losers: The new map of inequality in the European Union. European Urban and Regional Studies, 1:95-114.

Foss, H.J. (1996) Higher order industrial capabilities and competitive advantage. Journal of Industry Studies, 3: 1-20.

Freeman, C. (1994) Critical survey: The economics of technical change. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 18:463-512.

Gallino, L. (1990) Policy making in 'condizioni avverse'. In Bagnasco, A. (a cura di) La Citta Dopo Ford. It Caso di Torino. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri, pp. 68-91.

Granovetter, M. (1985). Economic action and social structure: The problem of emdeddedness. American Journal of Sociology, 91 :481-51

Haas, P.M. (1992) Introduction: Epistemic communities and international policy coordination. International Organization, 46:1-35.

Hodgson, G.M. (1993) Economics and Evolution: Bringing Life Back into Economics. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Hudson, R. (1994) Institutional change, cultural transformation, and economic regeneration: Myths and realities from Europe's old industrial areas. In Amin, A. and Thrift, N. (eds.) Globalization, Institutions, and Regional Development in Europe. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 196-216.

Lundvall, B.A. (1992) Introduction. In Lundvall, B.A. (ed.) National Systems of Innovation. London: Pinter, pp. 1-19.

Lundvall, B.A. and Johnson, B. (1994) The learning economy. Journal of International Studies, 1:23-42.

Morgan, K. (1997) The learning region: Institutions, innovation and regional renewal. Regional Studies, 31:491-504.

O.C.D.E. (1991) Les Resources Technologiques et les Strategies de Competitivite des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises, et sur [;acces des PME au Systeme de Recherche (dr. S. Conti). Direction de la Science, de la Tecnologie et de l'Industrie, Paris.

Penrose, E. (1959) The Theory of the Growth of the Firm. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Putnam, R. (1993) The prosperous community: Social capital and public life. American Prospects, 13:53-42.

Rehfeld, D. (1995) Disintegration and reintegration of production clusters in the Ruhr area. In Cooke, P. (ed.) The Rise of the Rustbelt. London: University College London Press, pp. 85-102.

Volpato, G. (1996) II Caso Fiat. Milano: Isedi.