Competitive and Synergic Behaviours in the Development of Industrial Clusters: Ecological Modelling and Empirical Evidence

  • Marco Fortis
  • Mario A. Maggioni
Part of the Contributions to Economics book series (CE)


Aim of the paper is, on the one hand, to highlight the economic relevance of industrial districts in Italy in terms of employment, value added and export and, on the other, to apply an original theoretical framework, derived from population ecology modelling, to the analysis of the development of industrial districts in Italy.

In this way it is possible to underline the interplay of agglomeration economies and diseconomies in the growth process of an industrial cluster, to distinguish three main phases of its development process and to stress the complex and different (i.e. synergic, competitive, etc.) interactions which exists between different industries, within the same area, and between different areas within the same industry.

The formal model is able to identify and discuss the existence stability conditions of long run equilibria through a graphical analysis.

The paper continue by describing the structure and evolution of some representative examples of Italian industrial districts (namely Cusio-Valsesia and Lumezzane districts of valves and fittings, Varese district of plastic, rubber and specialised machinery, Castel Goffredo districts of stockings).

A discussion of the main methodological problems connected to the empirical implementation of the original analytical framework, described above, concludes the paper.

Ecology is the study of patterns in nature, of how these patterns came to be, how they change in space and time, why some are more fragile than others. Population ecology is concerned with how populations interact with the environment and how these interactions give rise to the larger patterns of communities and ecosystems. The environment is more than just sun, air, earth and water: it includes other organisms which may help or hinder the survival of a species. Population ecology is also the study of how these organisms interact (…) in competition and in co-operation.

S. H. Kingsland (1985), Modelling Nature. Episodes in the History of Population Ecology.

No population is alone. Population interact with each other in many ways. These interactions are important. We will see that we cannot understand many population phenomena without considering the interactions. Even if we want to ignore population interactions we cannot. But above all, the interactions are intrinsically interesting because they produce perhaps the most intricate and fascinating patterns in biology.

J. Roughgarden (1979), Theory of Population Genetic and Evolutionary Ecology: an Introduction.

Biology is the Mecca of economists.

A. Marshall (1920), Principles of Economics.


Industrial District Agglomeration Economy Sales Revenue Industrial Cluster Incumbent Firm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Fortis
  • Mario A. Maggioni

There are no affiliations available

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