This article investigates the first ‘network contracts’ signed by Italian firms by analyzing business networks’ dimensions, geographical areas and relevant economic sectors. With reference to the manufacturing industry it aims to understand whether this new legislative instrument is appropriate to sustain SMEs’ development and international competitiveness as expected by the Italian government. Searching for the presence and congruence of those elements considered necessary for inter-firm collaboration such as strategic objectives, operational programs, network organization and financial resources, it will be possible to understand how the network contract is really used and to appraise its effectiveness.
Keywords: Network contract, networking, inter-firm collaboration, competitiveness, SMEs
Jel Code: L14, L25, L52