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What kind of welfare is right for Italian companies?

A thesis addresses the situation and prospects for business services and benefits

Welfare. It’s almost a magical word, a panacea for many of the evils of the current economic and social structures in huge swathes of the ‘developed’ world. A concept full of various meanings and concrete applications, welfare should without doubt be widely adopted, but before that even, it should be studied and understood. Above all because, far from being magical, the path towards welfare is far from smooth, and must be closely connected with the real (and different) conditions it finds itself in every time.

In his thesis, discussed at the University of Rome, Department of Management, doctorate course in Management, Banking and Commodity Sciences, Antonio Di Lorenzo attempts to understand the welfare conditions in Italy, comparing these with the general situation in the country.

‘The crisis of the welfare state, combined with the effects of the economic crisis that began in 2007,’ states Di Lorenzo in the introduction to his work, ‘have served to focus the attention of companies and institutions on the issue of corporate welfare as a potential link between the search for new models to increase the competitiveness of companies and the process of remodelling the public welfare system.’ The issue raised by the author is one that is already widely acknowledged, but never explored in sufficient depth: ‘In Italy, the phenomenon [of welfare] is still only relevant to a limited number of companies, particularly larger ones.’ He goes on to add that ‘the majority of measures still do not fully and effectively meet the new social requirements, and as yet, no adequate models have been developed that engage the entire territory in the creation of networks of services that can be fully integrated into a so-called “second welfare” system, or in other words, a field in which the various players – foundations, associations, trade unions, employers’ associations, companies, etc. – use private resources to develop services that can support and assimilate public welfare, both from a qualitative and quantitative perspective.’

The question Di Lorenzo finds himself facing is ‘How can this be done?’ The solution that he identifies in order to achieve the best possible diffusion of this culture of welfare lies in the creation of networks of companies that can make the best use of the opportunities available (including from a legislative point of view). Accordingly, the study looks at the critical elements and constraints – as well as the potential – of the networks that have been established in order to generate welfare services shared between the companies that are part of it, and seeks to determine whether in reality such a network can function as a tool that can be used to develop corporate welfare at a national level, so that small and medium companies can also benefit.

Di Lorenzo begins by placing the concept of welfare and the various ways this is applied in context; he then goes on to examine the specific features of this concept in Italy, focusing on the situation faced by SMEs and then looking at the characteristics that a network of companies must have in order to provide a positive response to the requirements in question.

Di Lorenzo’s work provides a useful and up-to-date overview of a topic that is widely discussed but still not entirely resolved. The real-life cases that the author examines are also interesting, namely those of Luxottica, Solvay, BNL, Unicredit, Intesa Sanpaolo and Tetra Pak.

 

Welfare aziendale e reti d’impresa
Antonio Di Lorenzo
Thesis, University of Rome, Department of Management, Doctorate Course in Management, Banking and Commodity Sciences, Cycle XXXI, A.Y. 2018-2019

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