The aim of the paper is to present the main lines of the wide-ranging and decades-long debate on IDs (industrial districts). We look at what the IDs have represented in the past, their current situation, and the challenges and opportunities these face in a socio-economic context that is spurring greater interaction between global and local forces. The paper first outlines a few basic concepts and some of the key findings to emerge from the more recent debate on industrial districts. Through a critical review of selected empirical and theoretical contributions from a growing body of worldwide literature, we identify themes that seem to coincide with the critical nodes of industrial districts, especially at a time when these face challenges as well as opportunities. The paper is presented as a contemporary reflection on such themes in a critical, albeit probably less than objective, way.
Keywords: Distretti industriali, economie esterne, sfide contemporanee dell’innovazione e dell’internazionalizzazione, forme del capitalismo regionale, politiche di sviluppo locale industriale
Jel Code: B10, D24, R12