Informations and abstract
Keywords: Emilian Model, Industrial Districts, Industry 4.0, Advanced Manufacturing
The main purpose of this paper is to shed light on one of the most resilient and innovative Italian industrial districts. Taking the «metamorphosis» of the Emilian Model as a starting point, the paper, at first glance, analyses the response of this regional economy to the fourth industrial revolution. The traditional leadership of Emilia-Romagna manufacturing in the field of advanced mechanical engineering industry still plays a fundamental role in the transition toward the new technological paradigm (Industry 4.0 and digital transformation). A paradigm where new capabilities and new ideas can be combined and recombined, as it had already happened with the birth – some decades ago – of mechatronics. On closer inspection, focussing on the Reggio Emilia cluster of mechatronics, the paper investigates some crucial aspects of its recent developments. Specifically, a performance comparison in terms of innovation and internationalisation has been set in place between this district and the Italian mechanical sector. In recent years, this cluster has been showing a high export propensity, a good capacity of attracting foreign investments, and a remarkable innovation performance (e.g., patents and co-patents registered at the epo ). Finally, in the paper we argue that one of the main general characteristics of this district is the geographical concentration of companies; i.e., they are strongly connected through an integrated supply chain. All these factors contribute to a strong dinamicity of the cluster in the XXI century.