To promote collaboration between enterprises and increase their innovation potential, Italy implemented a law on "network contracts" in 2009. The article assesses the results of the first 179 network contracts signed pursuant to that law from the time it was introduced up to early October 2011. The analysis of the manufacturing firms in question suggests a more intense use of technological innovation, quality management system certifications, and foreign direct investments. One-third of the 179 firms are located in industrial districts; these companies all show a high tendency to get involved in multiregional network contracts where service firms also play a role. Albeit not conclusive, the evidence provided by these preliminary results shows that the network contracts are often used to enrich the area with new innovation or distribution competences not always available locally, rather than being developed as an alternative to industrial districts.
Keywords: Contratti di rete, distretti industriali
Jel Code: R12, L10, L22