Cecilia Manzo, Francesco Ramella

Fab Labs in Italy: Collective Goods in the Sharing Economy

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Economic Sociology; Innovation and Invention; Social Innovation.

Fab Labs are small workshops, open to the public, that offer tools and services for digital manufacturing, thus promoting social and economic innovation. For these reasons they can be considered «local collective goods»: they are created as part of the sharing economy and they are able to generate external economies, tangible and intangible, useful for development. These collective assets, however, have operating modes and «generative mechanisms» that differ in part from the traditional ones that literature on local development has been exploring so far. The objective of the article, therefore, is to explore Fab Labs from this perspective, with particular reference to the Italian situation. Italy is, indeed, a particularly interesting case, because while official indicators describe the economy as not very innovative, there has, in the case of Fab Labs, been a surprising degree of development. To solve this «puzzle», the authors propose an interpretive key that refers to both the «human capital surplus» and the «deficit of collective goods» existing in this country, which has a strong manufacturing vocation based on small and medium sized enterprises.

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