Abstract and Keywords
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.
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