The nineties saw the confirmation of forms of restructuring of the secondary sector essentially linked to the diffusion of technologies and to processes of use of intangible resources, such as information and research: consistent with these dynamics is the return to competitiveness of large companies, in turn reorganized through the ‘acquisition of original flexibility formulas. A still different development model has gradually emerged, articulated, in increasingly selective forms, on the enhancement of local potential and on the intertwining of dense relational patterns, rather than on zoning interventions. In fact, the division into three large production areas (the North-West, seat of the large urban-industrial concentrations, the North-East-Center, organized on the model of widespread urbanization and the development of systems of small and medium-sized enterprises, and the South, with a marginal economy), a division on which the interpretation of the country’s economic development was based starting from the 1960s and 1970s, is proving inadequate to grasp new development configurations, especially as regards the composition of the Third Italy, increasingly articulated in sub-regions with different physiognomies and specific relational potentials, often of international scope. The most notable internal differentiations concern Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, where industrialization organized in specialized local systems was followed by forms of intense outsourcing that placed the two regions – Veneto, in particular – at the top of national development, alongside Piedmont and Lombardy; the Marche also continues to gain employment with respect to the average figure for the country, presenting a considerable resistance, mostly attributable to the competitiveness preserved by its local production systems. A sharp fall in productivity levels is confirmed instead in Umbria, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and, in particularly serious forms, in Tuscany, which up to the 1980s had maintained singular and very lively forms of balance between urban-industrial models of different sizes, above all thanks to the presence of some very successful ‘industrial districts’, the Prato one being the first. On the other hand, powerful productive and organizational transformations are confirmed in the industrial regions of the North-West, where Piedmont and Lombardy, even in conditions of contraction in employment, they are involved in vast and complex dynamics of industrial restructuring and increasing outsourcing; instead Liguria continues in an irreversible path of deindustrialization and contraction of its tertiary-commercial apparatus, worn out for some decades by the difficulty of compensating for the collapse of large industry and the loss of centrality of the Genoese port, so as to reach levels of industrial density close to those of some southern regions (such as Molise). In the South, there are still strong involutional processes in the employment of the secondary sector, alongside an irreversible decline in the structures and arrangements of the primary sector and in the face of the continuous expansion of not very productive tertiary branches, only in some cases involved in the enhancement of service sectors for businesses. The most serious shortcomings of the South, however, continue to manifest themselves in the unevenness of local development conditions, in the often exogenous and disjointed origin of initiatives and investments and in the poor integration of the regional fabric. Among the southern regions, only a few show a decidedly positive trend: Abruzzo is in first place, with growing employment in industry and a regional organization largely articulated on the development of some by now consolidated local production systems; in Basilicata, where from1994 The large automobile industry complex planted by FIAT in Melfi is in operation, as part of one of the most important interventions promoted in recent decades in favor of the South, investments continue for the exploitation of the oil fields discovered in the valley of the Agri, south of Potenza.
The main formation that emerges in the country among the current models of industrial development is to be identified in the macro-region consisting of Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, which concentrates a strategic potential of great consistency and complexity, based on the use of technological resources. various organizational and intangible factors, and on initiatives capable of producing social cohesion and organizing the related environmental frameworks, enhancing the quality of local contexts. The great Padano-Veneto region, which triggers growth processes of a broadly transnational scope, so as to fit within the newest development guidelines of international interest, is nevertheless the result of complex and in some cases contradictory dynamics, especially under the aspect of the relational potential that characterize them. In this context, Veneto emerges due to increases in industrial employment greater than in the rest of the country, representing, in particular through some local production systems specialized in clothing, goldsmithing, optics, etc., a field of application of methodologies highly advanced production from the manufacturing and organizational point of view, and original dynamics of division of labor, which allow the entry into global markets of skills and experiences peculiar to the same local areas.
As part of the processes of reorganization of subcontracting and import-export relationships, processes of delocalization of production phases and cycles to areas with lower labor costs have taken shape, especially starting from the districts of the North-East. ‘Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia, but also in the South, to configure other lines of relationship between’ centers’ and ‘peripheries’, not only strictly economic but also socio-cultural and territorial. Starting from the years 1992 – 93During the nineties, the number of medium-sized multinational groups active in the production sectors traditionally most competitive in international trade (textiles, clothing, food, mechanics, steel) multiplied, in the face of the slow decline of large oligopolistic groups operating throughout the world. ‘abroad. These groups, organized according to differentiated models, have mostly resulted from the expansion of highly specialized and flexible companies, with a strong ability to use imported technologies and to develop original brands, designs and marketing strategies: the possibilities of realization strong economies of scale are derived from opportunities linked to the unification of the European market, the industrial growth of the Far East (especially China) and the opening up of the economies of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Contradictory dynamics have arisen, i.e. loss of employment, definitive transfer of companies and production phases in favor of the expansion of foreign markets, and an increase in international competition, alongside positive factors such as the acquisition of skills, the diversification of cycles and the extension of specialized supply chains, easier access to subcontracting and commercial distribution networks and, in many cases, the opportunity to develop alliance networks and integration strategies on a global scale.