The evolution toward vagueness of industrial district concept and its impact on regional innovation policy

López-Estornell, M.; Tortajada Esparza, E.; Martinez-Chafer, l
The paper discusses the development of the industrial district policy in Italy and the different roles of regions in its implementation, and provides an initial assessment of the relationship between regional districts and innovation policies.
First, we provide an overview of Italian national legislation on industrial districts since 1991 and the changes that have resulted. Next, we examine the evolution of industrial district policy in Veneto, in the context of the Italian framework. The regional government implemented its industrial district policy in the late 1990s and it has yielded some results which deserve attention.
Second, we look at the benefits and limitations of district policy governance in Veneto region and focus on the links between regional district and innovation policies. To achieve a first assessment of district preferences in terms of policy, the paper discusses the specific arrangements in five industrial districts in different sectors, and the support provided by regional government. Our findings show that innovation projects are of limited relevance in strategies of industrial districts.
A recommendation for policy is that cluster initiatives should be aligned to the specific economic features of the territory. Problems arise when national governments and international organizations assume that ‘one size fits all’.