Industrial districts: towards the future

Call for papers for: Competitiveness Review

Guest Editors:

Dr. Jose-Luis Hervas-Oliver, Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain)

Dr. Rafael Boix, Universitat de València (Spain)



The concept of industrial district is reinvigorated through many different emerging sublines of inquiry that constitute new promising research avenues, such as digitization (e.g. Hervas-Oliver et al., 2021; Bettiol et al., 2021; De Propris & Bailey, 2020), place-based innovation policies (Hervas-Oliver et al., 2019; Boix-Domenech et al., 2019; Bellandi et al., 2021a), sustainability (Chaminade & Randelli, 2020) or servitization (Bellandi et al., 2020; Sforzi & Boix, 2019), among many others.

The MID (Marshallian Industrial District) is building up those new research avenues while re-elaborating and advancing knowledge on traditional topics such as learning (Bellandi, Propris, & Vecciolini, 2021b), networks (Belso-Martínez et al., 2020; Ruiz-Ortega et al., 2020) or multinationals (Belussi, 2018; Hervas-Oliver et al., 2020), among others. This special issue attempts to gather high-quality articles on industrial districts that present new evidence on emerging and traditional topics that remain open and present new research opportunities. Thus, we attempt to keep evidencing the evolution of the concept by adding new insights.


Goals and topics:

In line with CR’s scope and research priorities, the studies published in the special issue will aim to elucidate the state-of-the-art of industrial districts at the present time, combining new and traditional yet open research questions.  We especially welcome case studies building theory or case studies as examples of specific cases of innovation; also, econometrics-based studies, conceptual papers or others focus on industrial districts and competitiveness, such as those addressing policy initiatives. Investigations of firm-level and non-firm level determinants of competitiveness and innovation in industrial districts are all welcome. 

Potential topics for the special issue may include but are not limited to:

  • Old and new ways of innovation in industrial districts
  • The role of multinationals and global value chains in industrial districts: effects on the territories
  • Industrial districts transformation, learning and life cycles
  • Industrial district networks, ties and firm innovation
  • Culture, ethnicity and inclusion in industrial districts
  • Entrepreneurship in industrial districts
  • Sustainability in industrial districts: collective actions and firm strategy
  • Digitization and servitization in industrial districts and their firms.



We encourage submission from those manuscripts presented at Rethinking Clusters 2020 held in Valencia. Manuscripts submitted to the special issue will be subject to a first rigorous screening by the Guest Editors who will invite authors of the selected papers, after assessment of suitability, to submit their work for formal consideration by the journal. Also, the Special Issue remains open to any high-quality contribution on the phenomenon.

Abstract submission to Guest Editors: deadline July 30th (max. 500 words)

Subsequently, the Special Issue is subject to the normal double-blind review process established by Competitiveness Review. For any query please contact the Guest Editors. All papers will be subject to double-blind peer review, according to author guidelines available at:

Submissions to Competitiveness Review are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts: please select the correct special issue from the drop-down menu, when available.


Key dates:

Abstract submission to Guest Editors deadline: July 30th 2021

Submission deadline to the Journal: October 30th 2021



Bellandi, M., Lombardi, S., & Santini, E. (2020). Traditional manufacturing areas and the emergence of product-service systems: the case of Italy. Journal of Industrial and Business Economics47(2), 311-331.

Bellandi, M., Plechero, M., & Santini, E. (2021a). The supporting and hampering role of place leadership in Italian industrial districts. In Handbook on City and Regional Leadership. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Bellandi, M., Propris, L. D., & Vecciolini, C. (2021b). Effects of learning, unlearning and forgetting on path development: the case of the Macerata-Fermo footwear industrial districts. European Planning Studies29(2), 259-276.

Belso-Martínez, J. A., Mas-Verdu, F., & Chinchilla-Mira, L. (2020). How do interorganizational networks and firm group structures matter for innovation in clusters: Different networks, different results. Journal of Small Business Management58(1), 73-105.

BELUSSI, Fiorenza. New perspectives on the evolution of clusters. European Planning Studies, 2018, vol. 26, no 9, p. 1796-1814.

Boix, R., Galletto, V., & Sforzi, F. (2019). Place-based innovation in industrial districts: the long-term evolution of the iMID effect in Spain (1991–2014). European Planning Studies27(10), 1940-1958.

Chaminade, C., & Randelli, F. (2020). The role of territorially embedded innovation ecosystems accelerating sustainability transformations: A case study of the transformation to organic wine production in Tuscany (Italy). Sustainability12(11), 4621.

De Propris, L., & Bailey, D. (2020). Industry 4.0 and regional transformations (p. 276). Taylor & Francis.

Hervas-Oliver, JL, Di Maria, E., and Bettiol, M. (2021) Industry 4.0 in firms, clusters and regions: the new digital imperative, Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal, Vol. 31 No. 1, 2021, pp. 1-11

Hervas-Oliver, J. L., Belussi, F., Sedita, S. R., Caloffi, A., & Gonzalez-Alcaide, G. (2020). Approaching multinationals in clusters from different perspectives. Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal.

Hervas-Oliver, J. L., Estelles-Miguel, S., Mallol-Gasch, G., & Boix-Palomero, J. (2019). A place-based policy for promoting Industry 4.0: The case of the Castellon ceramic tile district. European Planning Studies27(9), 1838-1856.

Ruiz-Ortega, M. J., Molina-Morales, F. X., Parra-Requena, G., & García-Villaverde, P. M. (2020). Strength of ties and pioneering orientation: The moderating role of scanning capabilities. BRQ Business Research Quarterly, 2340944420967954.

SFORZI, Fabio; BOIX, Rafael. Territorial servitization in Marshallian industrial districts: the industrial district as a place-based form of servitization. Regional Studies, 2019, vol. 53, no 3, p. 398-409.