New paths are beaten out between “local” and “global”: “glocal”, a hybrid, known for some time, of global and local, used to describe business activities firmly rooted in the area of origin yet with a strong focus on international markets. Recently we have had a new phenomenon – relocalisation, i.e. the return of industrial activities to the areas of origin after the successful season of delocalisation. Industry is returning to Europe, and above all to the US. There in fact, in the past three years, the manufacturing industry has created approximately 500,000 new jobs. The economic policies of President Obama have sustained the revival or the strengthening of the car industry (and the entire automotive sector) and several other areas.

Going against the flow in other words. Factories can and must be revived in countries with a longstanding industrial tradition and high cost of labour. The manufacturing industry in fact makes a solid and durable contribution both to the GDP and to widespread economic and social equilibrium (an industrial structure which innervates large areas is like a network of roots which keep the land compact and solid, avoiding landslides, fissures and avalanches). New skills, knowledge and culture develop around the manufacturing industry which are the driving force for widespread wealth which can be constantly renewed (provided naturally investments are made in training and research, human capital and the spread of technology).

“Manufacturing is a source of knowledge”, maintains Luca Paolazzi, director of the Confindustria research centre, in a recent book, L’Europa e l’Italia nel secolo asiatico: integrazione e forza industriale a difesa di libertà e benessere, [“Europe and Italy in the century of Asia: industrial strength and integration in defence of freedom and well-being”] published by Luiss University Press. He explains that “most of basic and applied research is performed by manufacturing companies. Action itself, i.e. production, offers improvements and advances solutions in processes and products”. The factory as culture, and interweaving of social fabrics. The source of wealth (GDP) and also relations filled with solidarity and future (that good “social capital” which contributes to the new ISEW, the index of sustainable economic welfare).

In other words open and reopen factories, producing again in the USA, in Italy and the rest of Europe. Good local and supply chain relations, an intelligent supply chain. Sophisticated technologies for niche production, solid quality and high added value. In this arena Italy has many cards in hand to be played better than in the past. 

30/04/2013