Several recent contributions by academics and practitioners suggest that in Italy the era of Marshallian industrial districts (IDs) has come to an end. This paper sets out to debate the progressive dissolution of the Marshallian configuration of IDs that have taken place in recent times and by suggesting different trajectories emerging instead. After presenting the difference between Marshallian industrial districts, industrial districts and clusters, we discuss the role of six phenomena in driving a profound change in IDs by organizing evidence emerging for a number of empirical contributions. Such phenomena are: a) the increasing concentration within IDs; b) the vanishing of the local productive relationships; c) the increasing importance of relationships spanning outside the district; d) the emergence of a multiethnic society; e) the impact of generational change; f) the diversification of production activities. Subsequently, we try to assess where they are going, studying three of the major IDs in the Veneto region: the shoe districts of Riviera del Brenta, the eyewear district of Belluno and the gold jewellery district of Vicenza. By the mean of an analysis based on a rich set of indicators, we identify three evolutionary trajectories out of the Marshallian model - decline, hierarchization into few big firms, and evolutionary reproduction - and discuss the policy implication of this evidence.
Keywords: Marshallian industrial district, cluster, industrial atmosphere, globalization, global value chain.