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Good history for good business culture

Valerio Castronovo’s latest literary work is an important tool for understanding more and acting better

Business culture is partly shaped and enriched by a good knowledge of what went on before: good history for good business culture. This principle is accepted but not taken for granted, so it must be cultivated and renewed constantly. . That is why we should be reading books like “Storia economica d’Italia. Dall’Ottocento al 2020” (The Economic History of Italy from the Nineteenth Century to 2020), written by Valerio Castronovo, a former professor of modern history at the University of Turin and, above all, a renowned expert on the Italian economic, social and political events of the past two hundred years.

Castronovo’s latest book revisits, expands on, updates and republishes a history of the Italian economy, which has appeared several times in various versions and is always updated. Against a backdrop of events in the financial and international markets, Castronovo reconstructs the complex history of the Italian economy, interweaving it with political events, cultural trends and social transformations. In this way, the most significant phases of a development and modernisation process that was neither uniform nor linear, but very uneven from a territorial perspective, are revisited along with the work of major figures from the economic and business worlds.

The author leads the reader from the situation of a newly unified Italy to that of the country during the “industrial take-off”, to the turbulent period between the First and Second World Wars, then to industrial Italy after the second war and finally, to a country grappling with a “difficult modernisation” and an unprecedented global crisis.

What emerges is the story of a country that made significant economic progress, partly due to the dynamism of a plethora of small and medium-sized enterprises, but failed to bridge the gap between the Centre-North and the South. Today, it faces the challenge of rebalancing huge public debt within the European Monetary Union, in addition to that of the growing competitiveness of large emerging countries. Today’s situation is also the result of events over the last few decades, to the extent that it makes us think that Italy is a case apart among Western economies. The roots of Italian capitalism, as well as the material resources, structural conditions and social characteristics of our economic experience differ significantly from those of other European countries.

In this time of globalisation and the pandemic, Castronovo’s theory is that our country is at a crucial turning point for its future.

Valerio Castronovo has once again written a book that provides the essential elements for understanding where we are and where we can go. It should be read and kept as a good travelling companion.

Storia economica d’Italia. Dall’Ottocento al 2020 (The Economic History of Italy from the Nineteenth Century to 2020)

Valerio Castronovo

Einaudi, 2020