Local Development and Economic Restructuring

This course is organized in three parts. First, it focuses on the economic changes that, over the last twenty years, have taken place in most industrialized countries. After a brief review of the various interpretations of these changes (for example, as a passage from \”smokestack\” to \”clean\” industry, or from industrial to \”post industrial,\” \”service,\” and \”information\” society), the view proposed in the course identifies a major component of restructuring in the shift from Fordist to post-Fordist, or \”flexible,\” industrial organizations. This part will conclude by identifying the industrial activities where flexibility plays a particularly relevant role.The second objective of the course, following from this interpretation of restructuring, is to elaborate the implications that post-Fordism has on the ways in which local development can be triggered and supported. Since a major feature of post-Fordism is recognized to be the link between flexibility and systems of small and medium-sized firms, the course will look at how the growth of an \”industrial district\” — formed by the spatial clustering of several small firms — can be triggered and/or supported.Finally, the course will deal with the role that physical planning and design can have in the development of an industrial district. Given the importance played by the spatial proximity of firms in the district, the management of local space can be a powerful tool for the successful growth of the district.In parallel to these general themes, the students will be asked to develop a case study: they could select a specific industrial area that is already developing as an industrial district and suggest interventions in order to facilitate and direct the development; or they could identify a declining or underdeveloped local area and suggest courses of action for its (re)development.