The year 2014 marked a double anniversary: the 35th and 25th anniversaries of the publication of two seminal papers of Giacomo Becattini on the industrial district. The first paper (Becattini, 1979) conceptualizes the industrial district as a «unit of investigation», while the second (Becattini, 1989) conceptualizes the industrial district as a «model of production». Between the two papers there is a mutual dependence. The industrial district as a «model of production» deprived of the industrial district as a «unit of investigation» loses its originality as a way of interpreting economic change and becomes merely «one type of a cluster». This paper deals with the relationship between district and cluster, then also between the industrial district as a singular theoretical construct and the many industrial districts described by empirical investigations, and concludes with some remarks on the topicality of the industrial district.
Check other articles from the issue Monográfico 2015 'Rethinking industrial districts in the XXI Century' or from other issues.