Informations and abstract
Organized collective action and interest intermediation do not belong to the analytical repertoire habitually employed by the literature on industrial districts and on the institutional performance of local governments. By referring to a number of legislative acts in the domain of associative governance in Italy, the author argues that this negligeance is unwarrented and actually fails to take account of important determinants of local economic and institutional development. Focussing on the region of Sicily, and making use of network-analytic tools for the elaboration of two diacronic data sets (1992 and 1995), it is demonstrated that the fragmentation of the Italian interest system, albeit still being pronounced at both the national and the subnational levels, appears to be less proliferating today than has been the case until the late 1980s. Regional interest associations are shown to have solved many of the structural and behavioral deficiencies caused by political camp mentalities of the past and are today prepared to pool their resources in the general interest of improving the performance of an entire territory. Yet, the marginalized network position of the Sicilian government represents a disincentive for proper forms of interest intermediation and suggests that investments in associational solidity alone are no sufficient condition for arriving at the virtuous type of policy network often described in the literature on successful regional economies in Europe. As long as the regional administration remains the reference point for particularized contacting and for dyadic exchanges between individual members of society and the State, will collective demands for regional governance remain under-developed and will proper interest intermediation fail to emerge.