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Empirical insights into strategic competition, productivity and resilience of the Italian entrepreneurial system

Pieroni, Valentina (2023) Empirical insights into strategic competition, productivity and resilience of the Italian entrepreneurial system. Advisor: Lattanzi, Prof Nicola. Coadvisor: Caldarelli, Prof. Guido . pp. 230. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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The globalization of economic activities and the acceleration of technological change brought about profound changes in the competitive arena where firms strive to succeed. Enter- prises must promptly adapt to change to survive and build a sustainable advantage over their competitors. The need for effective solutions to strengthen the entrepreneurial system and foster a dynamic economy has stimulated the academic and institutional debate on the drivers of firms’ competitive- ness, productivity, and resilience to sudden shocks. The ac- knowledged systemic nature of the firm suggests looking be- yond its boundaries, at the system of relationships the enter- prise is embedded in, to discover the triggers of the firm’s development. OECD and European Union countries soon acknowledged how valuable inter-firm connections are for firms’ strategic development, especially when it comes to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. As a result, policymakers com- mitted to defining a policy agenda to encourage the sponta- neous emergence of formal network ties and support the de- velopment of localized connections in territorial areas. The first two chapters of this doctoral dissertation are devoted to empirically investigating the triggers of firms’ competitive- ness and productivity, focusing on the contribution to firms’ performance of formal network ties secured by a specific legal regime and localized regional processes (i.e., local spillovers). Chapter 1 assesses the dynamic impact of inter-firm network agreements (introduced by the decree-law n. 5/2009 con- verted into law n.33/2009) on firms’ performance. Our ap- proach to causal inference allows us to estimate heterogeneity-robust dynamic effects overcoming the issues affecting two- way fixed effects DiD estimates in settings with a staggered treatment rollout. We find that firms participating in formal- ized networks can reap lasting benefits that keep growing at least until the third year of cooperation, thus improving their revenues, value added and EBITDA. The benefits of formal- ized networks are even stronger for the subsample of micro- enterprises, especially when they engage with larger part- ners. Moreover, inter-firm formal networks deliver higher advantages when most members are in the same travel-to- work area. Further insights into the consequences of co-location are discussed in Chapter 2. The study reveals the existence of spatial dependence between nearby firms’ productivity, which is supposed to be driven by geographically bounded pro- cesses. Using secondary data on Italian technology-intensive manufacturing firms, we exploit spatial econometric models to estimate productivity spillovers across firms. The work brings together family firms and regional studies as it points out whether spatial proximity to family firms is a source of positive or negative externalities. Our findings confirm that proximity to patenting firms is a source of positive external- ities. As a second result, we observe that the family’s in- volvement in the ownership and management positions has an overall negative indirect effect on nearby firms’ productiv- ity. However, when family firms are innovators, the adverse indirect effect vanishes. The study points out the critical role of innovation in fostering the development of dynamic and fertile regional environments. It also highlights the impor- tance of co-location for public policy initiatives designed to promote economic growth at a local level. Recently, the entrepreneurial system has been severely hit by the unprecedented shock caused by the outbreak of the COVID- 19 pandemic. To curtail the health and socio-economic con- sequences of the spread of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), gov-ernments issued several measures, including mobility lim- itations and interventions to sustain employment (e.g., fur- lough schemes). Chapter 3 contributes to developing a new research line by analyzing how changes in mobility streams following government restrictions and behavioral adjustments impacted the number of excess deaths and employee furloughs recorded in Italy after the pandemic outbreak. To disentangle the causal effect of mobility restrictions on both dependent variables, we exploited rainfall patterns across Italian admin- istrative regions as a source of exogenous variation in human mobility. We find that a contraction in mobility effectively prevents the most severe consequences of the pandemic, as it leads to a COVID-19 mortality reduction. However, it in- creases the use of employee furloughs, exacerbating unem- ployment risk. The Chapter builds on these findings to dis- cuss return-to-work policies and prioritizing policies for ad- ministering COVID-19 vaccines in the most advanced stage of the vaccination campaign. All Chapters focus on the Italian case. Notwithstanding, this dissertation provides insights into widely addressed topics that animate the institutional and academic debate on an in- ternational scale.

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
PhD Course: Economics, Networks and Business Analytics
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.13118/imtlucca/e-theses/377
NBN Number: urn:nbn:it:imtlucca-29138
Date Deposited: 18 May 2023 12:44
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/377

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