Informal economies: Detailed Summary

The two-day workshop in Bologna addresses the economic organisations in clusters and network of firms using two perspectives. Using a perspective rooted in management and organisational theory, the first day investigates the determinants of economic performances of firms operating within clusters. Adopting an anthropological perspective, the second day explores opportunities and drawbacks of decentralised and regional models of development.

1st day - Cluster and Network Organisation

It is well-known that clustered networks of small and medium firms constitute the prevalent industrial structure of the Italian Centre-North and North-East, but similar arrangements can be found in productive systems as diverse as Scandinavia, the “Silicon Valley” as well as the software districts in the emerging countries of East Asia. Such a wide diffusion comes along with an extreme diversity of organizational and structural forms. Although business networks and industrial clusters are high in research agendas we lack tools to evaluate their performance and predict their dynamics. The first day of the workshop investigates how organizational and structural forms influence emergent performances and evolution of clusters.

2nd day - Regional and Informal Economy

‘Devolution’, ‘decentralised development’ and ‘regional economy’ are increasingly the catchwords of economic planning in Europe and elsewhere. The main argument in favour of regional economies is that they draw on cultural diversity as a resource for local economic development and avoid the inefficiencies of capitalism when it is organized through state bureaucracy. The main argument against them is that they promote gender, class and ethnic inequality by disguising capitalist social relations through the idiom of culture. The workshop examines critically the notions of ‘efficiency’ and ‘equality’ and asks: ‘who benefits from regional development and in which historical and political circumstances?’