Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

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First Semester
Hours of front activity: 



Course description

The course aims to transfer academic knowledge on the economics and policy of business networks, through theory and case studies, with reference to the following topics:

-      the economic, technological, and institutional determinants of business network formation and evolution; 
- the formal modelling and quantitative analysis of business networks;
-       rise, decline, and transformation of industrial districts and innovation clusters, in light of globalisation and "brain circulation";
-        impact of business networks on entry, growth, and exit of firms;
- public policies to support business network formation and their evaluation through econometric methods.

Students will develop knowledge application skills in the following domains:

-        positioning business networks within the broader evolution of economic systems;
-        economic analysis and policy evaluation regarding business network formation and the participation to the global value chain;
-        academic research on economics and policy of business networks, through theoretical and/or econometric approaches:

The course also aims at fostering the students' skills on making judgments and critical thinking on the mentioned topics. Special care will be taken in stimulating the ability to search, select, analyse, and combine different bibliographic sources and data banks. Communication skills will be nurtured through class discussions on case studies. In terms of learning ability, students will learn to study specialised academic publications on the economics and policy of business networks.


Prerequisites include knowledge acquired during the bachelor degree courses (Microeconomics, including market failures; Economic policy), as well as first year master degree courses (International trade, Economics of development and international cooperation, Statistical analysis). Gaps among students will be filled through an introductory lecture and by suggesting specific references.


The syllabus is organised in two parts, devoted to the economic analysis and economic policy of business networks, respectively. In more details:

Economic analysis of business networks:
a) history: industrial districts, clusters, ecosystems (12 hours)
b) empirics: business networks, industrial dynamics, and global value chains (12 hours)

Policy support to business network formation and policy evaluation through econometric methods (24 hours).

Teaching Methods

The course will include frontal lectures and exercise classes, totalling 48 hours (6 ETS). Frontal teaching will stimulate students to improve their also through group work focusing on the economic and/or econometric analysis of case studies.


Suggested readings:

On industrial districts, clusters and ecosystems:

Pyke F., Becattini G., Sengenberger W. (ed.), Industrial districts and inter-firm co-operation in Italy, International Institute for Labour Studies. Chapters 2, 4, 6.
Bresnahan T., Gambardella A., Saxenian A. ”Old economy inputs for new economy outcomes: cluster formation in the new Silicon Valleys.” Industrial and Corporate Change 10.4 (2001): 835-860.
Saxenian, A. ”The origins and dynamics of production networks in Silicon Valley.” Research Policy 20.5 (1991): 423-437.
Saxenian, A. ”From brain drain to brain circulation: Transnational communities and regional upgrading in India and China.” Studies in comparative international development 40.2 (2005): 35-61.

On networks, industrial dynamics, global value chains:

Frenken, Koen, Elena Cefis, and Erik Stam. ”Industrial dynamics and clusters: a survey.” Regional Studies 49.1 (2015): 10-27.
Klepper, S. (2010). The origin and growth of industry clusters: The making of Silicon Valley and Detroit. Journal of Urban Economics, 67(1), 15-32.
Jackson, M. O. (2010). Social and economic networks. Princeton university press: Chapter 2.
Further readings on global value chains will be suggested during the lectures.

Policy evaluation:

Maffioli A., Pietrobelli C., Stucchi R. (ed.) (2016). The Impact Evaluation of Cluster Development Programmes. Methods and Practices. Inter-American Development Bank. Chapters 1, 2, 3.
Further readings on industrial districts policy will be suggested during the lectures.

Learning assessment

Learning, critical thinking skills, and clarity and synthesis in exposition will be assessed through a written and oral exam.
The grade will take account of the following aspects:
-    Knowledge and understanding: 30%
-    Applying knowledge and understanding: 30%
-    Making judgments: 30%
- Communication: 10%.

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