The structure of industrial production and the service industries is characterized
by the prevalence of smarkforce, 30% beingll and medium-sized companies (94% and
5.6% according to 100 workers) thoug981 data), employing, however, only 70% of the
workforce, 30% being monopolized by large c ompanies (more than 100 workers) though
these comprise only 0.4% of the total. This means that companies are widely
dispersed over the whole country, obviously with significant location and
concentration of industry, and more than half the industrial comp anies operate at
little more than workshop level, as is seen by the small workforce in each
On the other hand, the small number of large companies is explained by increased
concentration, at that level also indicated by the high number of employees.
There is only a limited number of cooperative companies (food sector and the
transformation of agricultural products), while large companies tend to become
multinational. The presence of companies with foreign capital monopolizing specific
commodity secto rs (pharmaceuticals, photographic materials, electronics, cosmetics
etc.) is far from rare.
One particular kind of development regards medium-sized companies, frequently
derivations of small family-run businesses with a specialized production, which as
a result of management flexibility have succeeded in reconverting production and
using technol ogical innovations which, with increased competitivity, enable them
to penetrate international markets, in this way contributing to the consolidation
of the Italian image and presence throughout the world.
The Industrial Sectors
The steel and metalworking industries
The country's economic revival in the immediate postwar period was essentially
sustained by development and expansion of the basic industries, particularly the
steel industry, itself conditioned by the importation of raw materials such as
ores, scrap iron and coal.
Membership of ECSC enabled the Italian steel industry, which had installed the
integral processing cycle, to attain extremely high levels of production thus
satisfying increasingly greater domestic demand, such as that of the engineering
industry, as well as the export market. Following plant reconversion steel and
metal production is now stagnating due to the international economic situation
dominated by strong competition from Japanese industries and plastics, leading to
overproduction in the principal European countries.
The engineering industries
Mechanical engineering production is extremely varied and includes companies such
as shipbuilding, aerospace, carbuilding etc. with complex work cycles, together
with the manufacturers of simple tools. Component manufacturing is also well
developed and cl osely allied to companies producing durable goods not easily
classified in any one sector (for example, non-metallic materials used in the car
industry: rubber, glass, plastics etc).
In practice, mechanical engineering with its diversification and multiple