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References

Di Martino, Paolo
Ricchi per caso: la parabola dello sviluppo economico italiano
BookID 149792748
ISBN 9788815271440
(see LibraryThing.com card)
On Amazon USA/UK
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Description (from Amazon)Nel secolo e mezzo trascorso dall’unificazione, l’Italia ha raggiunto livelli di ricchezza simili a quelli dei maggiori paesi industrializzati. L’ondata di globalizzazione degli ultimi decenni ha però fatto emergere la debolezza del nostro sistema produttivo. Secondo la lettura originale che ne danno gli autori di questo libro, il capitalismo italiano è stato negativamente influenzato da istituzioni inefficienti, che hanno avuto un forte impatto sulle dimensioni e sulla governance delle imprese, come anche sulla formazione di capitale umano e sulla capacità innovativa. In questa luce l’assetto istituzionale ha quindi rappresentato il principale freno per le potenzialità di sviluppo del paese.
My review: 3.5/5In few days (March 4th 2018) there will be an election in Italy- and, as it seems that none of the "plans" over the last two decades produced any result on resurrecting Italy's role in the global economy as a leading member of the G7, increasingly commentators are looking under the carpet- and asking "what if... our 'economic miracle' of the 1950s-1960s had been just a fluke and not a trend?"

This book (or collection of essay but from a mix of the authors) could have been probably 50 pages shorter- as there are many rephrasings of the same concepts

But what differentiates it from many books currently on Italian bookstores' shelves is that it is data-based, and digs back in history, back to the actual creation of the country in the XIX century

What is even more interesting, and that justifies part of that "duplication" I referred to, is that the book is arranged around themes- e.g. it contains a chronology of the educationall reforms, another one of the national innovation system reforms, and an analysis of the attempts to build human capital and "catch up" with leading countries

The common thread shown across the book is roughly the cognitive dissonance between the reality of the country and what leaders assumed it to be, up to WWII, and post-WWII adding the element of "vote corralling" that created incentives to "stay small" for Italian companies, incentives that only recently have started to be dented

There are few tables that unfortunately I cannot share here that show how Italy still has a mix between small, not-so-small, medium, large companies than any of the other leading economies

As the authors note, only recently what we Italians sometimes call "multinazionali tascabili" (i.e. roughly pocket multinationals) started bypassing the traditional forms of Italian companies (small/medium, large public, large private), and become what in the 1990s used to be called "glocal", while also staying firmly Italians, but projecting themselves abroad and then adopting in each market to the local market

The overall tone of the books is more of disappointment for the opportunities lost since the late XIX century, than of certainty of decline, but at least presents each position with supporting data

Of course, a caveat: any attempt to use, say, a 1980s interpretation framework by restructuring/inferring from existing XIX data series comparable to those of the late XX century is open to criticism and "observer bias"

Still, the extensive bibliography in each chapter, along with some objective data about the number of companies and their size across the time, and the structure and distribution of the educational system deliver interesting insight

Unfortunately, this book has also something else: the cover and title are as appropriate as "Getting To Yes" was for the Harvard Negotiation Project, i.e. it looks not-so-serious, while instead it is worth you time and money

Both if you are just interesting about Italy, a politician or political scientist, or dealing with (or operating) Italian businesses

As we Italians routinely have a penchant for importing what worked elsewhere, assuming that we are smart enough to make it work in our country- forgetting "small details", e.g. that already in the XIX century educational school reforms extended taxpayers' money to subsidize the schooling and culture of the few, while underinvesting in schooling and "cultural induction" for the many

Creating the foundation for our current human capital gap- that will not be solved by merely mocking what other countries did and, as you would expect, the usual recipe: subsidize more those that anyway would already have access to R&D, high-level education, or investment in cultural assets

Last but not least: the around 300 pages of this book are worth reading once, as an independent book, and then re-read after (as I will do soon) reading few more books (I limit the list- if interested, look for the collections "Italy" and "NextPolitics" in my profile, for more books), e.g.:
>Romano "Vademecum di storia dell'Italia unita"
>AA.VV: "Storia del capitalismo italiano: dal dopoguerra a oggi"
>Colli "Capitalismo famigliare"
>Saibene "L'Italia di Adriano Olivetti"
>Borghi "Piccole Italie: le aree interne e la questione territoriale"
>Bini Smaghi "La tentazione di andarsene: fuori dall'Europa c'è un futuro per l'Italia?"
>
Rizzo "La Repubblica dei brocchi: il declino della classe dirigente italiana"
>
Giunta, Rossi "Che cosa sa fare l'Italia: La nostra economia dopo la grande crisi"
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