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During the last 25 years the evolution of the industrial structure has been dominated by the increasing importance of innovation as a competitive weapon. This was also connected with globalization, under which a number of traditional jobs were wiped out in the developed countries. Large firms competing on innovation need huge amounts of resources and must provide, through M&A, competencies needed for their programs; that is why they have to submit their projects to international financial markets. This makes large groups even more important and drives States to put on the market the companies they own. In this framework, the Italian economic system of 25 years ago looked totally unfit to undergo the development described above, both as structure and as behaviour. Nevertheless it got astonishing performances, mainly thanks to the SMEs and, in the last years, to the privatizations. But the proprietary structure of large firms is still fragile, due to the absence of long term institutional investors ready to support corporate governances oriented only to shareholder-value creation.