Medium-sized enterprises in Europe

Fulvio Coltorti, G. Garofoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This essay summarizes the main results of the survey promoted by Confindustria, R&S-Mediobanca and Unioncamere on mid-sized enterprises in Europe in light of the literature on clusters of firms and recent developments in industrial organization, namely the spread of lean production methods originating in Japan and Europe and the globalization of the real economy and finance In this context, production is increasingly polarized between standardized goods, for which the dominant note is the effort to wring the largest possible cost savings from transfers of factories to emerging countries, and differentiated, mainly high-quality goods. The latter can be produced by companies based in advanced countries, which manage to be competitive when corporate objectives are keyed to maximizing the value of production through advanced, innovative processes. Mid-sized enterprises in Italy, Spain and Germany have a robust financial structure and are well-positioned in the market. The identification of the entrepreneur and employees with the firm is an essential sign: in the three countries, when a firm does not exceed a certain size, it remains, in Becattini's words, a "life project". the average firm displays the following key characteristics: family control; product specializetion deriving from hight technical skills and innovative capacity; fragmentation of the production structure along a chain often marked by "proximity"; a commercial strategy of securing and developing niche markets; a strong capital base end, consequently, relatively low leverage. These factors explain mid-sized firms' ability to overcome even severe economic crises, such as the recent recession
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-203
Number of pages33
JournalReview of Economic Conditions in Italy
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Fourth capitalism
  • mid-sized firms


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