Quando la tradizione si trasforma in innovazione: riscoprire il passato per dar luogo al futuro - In the actual economic scenario, characterized by the recent financial crisis, the rethinking of business models, and the emerging of new customer needs, firms are rediscovering their roots, showing a renewal attention towards the notion of tradition. Specifically, tradition may be defined as the whole set of knowledge, values, and culture that characterize a specific firm, as well as a territory. In fact, firm and territory may be the repository of old competencies and values, whose re-discovery and re-use may allow companies to differ from competitors in terms of meaning and content, characterizing products and processes in an unique way. Exploiting tradition firms may be able to innovate, introducing new products and processes, which better respond to a competitive strategy based on differentiation rather than on cost advantages. Turning tradition into innovation may be achieved by means of two different drivers, as technology and design that may be characteristic of both products and processes. Product technology and design refer to technologies and signs’ combination, respectively, that give a functionality and a meaning to the product, and are associated to firms and/or territory’s tradition. Process technology and design are related to specific ways of producing a product and of organizing the production processes, respectively, that are typical and distinctive of a firm and/or territory. Analyzing three Italian cases, as Fiat, Barilla, and Ferretti, the present study wants to provide some provisional conclusions shedding light on the relationship occurring between tradition and innovation. In particular, it seems to emerge the central role played by the family entrepreneurship, the tight link between the firm and its territory, the artisanal nature of production processes, as well as the strategic relevance of marketing initiatives aimed at valorizing and sharing with customers traditional values and meanings.
Keywords: Tradizione, innovazione, competitività