The paper uses a unique dataset to address the issue of the functional and competitive upgrading of firms located in Italian industrial districts as a way to counter the growing competition faced by the suppliers of intermediate goods in global value chains (GVC). To maintain or enhance positioning in the global economy, firms use upgrading strategies to move from low-value to relatively high-value activities. An indepth empirical analysis of these upgrading patterns was conducted through a survey composed of questions designed ad hoc according to state-of-the-art GVC literature. In particular, the responses enable us to identify the various upgrading behaviours of firms located inside and outside districts, and how these strategies can boost the competitiveness of industrial districts to address the new challenges of globalisation.
Keywords: Upgrading, catene globali del valore, distretti industriali, innovazione
Jel Code: L22, L23, R30, F20