The Italian Machine Tool Industry Towards Product Development Networks

  • Secondo Rolfo


The evolution of the Italian machine tool industry is characterized by small-firm growth and by a general tendency for employment to shrink. In 1981 the 2,284 firms in the industry had 56,000 employees, in 1991 the number of firms had slightly increased to 2,387 while the number of employees had decreased to 48,500. In 1996, with 32,000 employees and a production of 3,265 million ECUs, the Italian machine tool industry was second in Europe after Germany, accounting for almost 10% of world production and 8.4% of exports. Despite this role, the Italian industry is weakened by two structural factors:
  1. 1.

    A wide presence of small firms. According to the Italian National Machine-Tool Builders Association (UCIMU) 70 % of firms have fewer than 50 employees, 15 % between 50 and 100 and only 15 % more than 100 (see Table 8.1). The exception is Comau, the leading Italian producer, with more than 3,000 employees, and after the serious crisis that affected the Mandelli group, only two firms have in excess of 500 employees.



Machine Tool Technical Department Engineering Firm Italian Firm Machine Tool Industry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bessant, J., Burnell, J., Harding, R., Webb, S. (1993): Continuous Improvement in British Manufacturing, in: Technovation, No. 4, May, pp. 241–254.Google Scholar
  2. Bessant, J., Caffyn, S., Gilbert, J., Harding, R., Webb, S. (1994): Rediscovering Continuous Improvement, in: Technovation, No. 1, February, pp. 17–29.Google Scholar
  3. Bessant, J., Caffyn, S. (1997): High-involvement Innovation through Continuous Improvement, in: Int. J. Technology Management, No. 1, pp. 7–28.Google Scholar
  4. Boston Consulting Group (1985): Strategic Study of the Machine Tool Industry, February, mimeo.Google Scholar
  5. Bowen, H. K., Clark, K. B., Halloway, C. A., Wheelwright, S. C. (1994a): Development Projects: The Engine of Renewal, in: Harvard Business Review, September-October, pp. 110–120.Google Scholar
  6. Bowen, H. K., Clark, K. B., Halloway, C. A., Wheelwright, S. C. (1994b): Make Projects the School for Leaders, in: Harvard Business Review, September-October, pp. 131–140.Google Scholar
  7. Caffyn, S. (1996): Continuous Improvement and the New Product Development Process, in: Proceedings of the “R&D Management” Conference 1996 on Quality and R&D, Enschede, 6–8 March, pp. 54–68.Google Scholar
  8. Clark, K. B., Fujimoto, T. (1991): Product Development Performance: Strategy, Organization and Management in the World Auto Industry, Boston, Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  9. Ertola, R. (1991): Interazione tra industria delle m.u. e industria componentistica in un polo tecnologico (Interaction between machine-tool industry and component suppliers in a technological pole), Thesis, University of Turin, Faculty of Economics.Google Scholar
  10. Fleischer, M. (1997): The Inefficiency Trap. Strategy Failure in the German Machine Tool Industry, Berlin, Sigma.Google Scholar
  11. Francis, A., Winstanley, D. (1987): Organising Professional Work: The Case of Designers in the Engineering Industry in Britain, in: Pettigrew, A. (ed.): Proceedings of the British Academy of Management Conference, Oxford, Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Hausler, J. (1990): Zur Gegenwart der Fabrik der Zukunft: Forschungsaktivitäten im bundesdeutschen Maschinenbau (On the situation of the factory of the future: Research activities in the German machinery industry), MPIFG Discussion Paper, No. 1.Google Scholar
  13. Rolfo, S. (1993): The Italian Machine Tool Industry, Ceris Working Paper, No. 4.Google Scholar
  14. Rolfo, S., Vaglio, P. (1997): Capacità competitiva e evoluzione strutturale dei settori di specializzazione: il caso delle macchine per confezionamento e imballaggio (Competitive capability and structural evolution in the specialised industries: the case of the packaging machinery), Ceris Working Paper, No. 7.Google Scholar
  15. Roy, R., Potter, S. (1996): Managing Engineering Design in Complex Supply Chains, in: Int. J. Technology Management, No. 4, pp. 403–420.Google Scholar
  16. Smallenburg, K., Halman, J. I. M., Van Mal, H. H. (1996): Towards Re-use of Knowledge in the Concept Stage of Development, in: Int. J. Technology Management, No. 3–4, pp. 343–353.Google Scholar
  17. Taranto, R., Franchini, M., Maglia, V. (1979): L’industria italiana della macchina utensile (The Italian machine-tool industry), Bologna, II Mulino.Google Scholar
  18. Thoburn, J. T., Takashima, M. (1992): Industrial Subcontracting in the UK and Japan, Aldershot, Avebury.Google Scholar
  19. Walsh, V. (1996): Design, Innovation and the Boundaries of the Firm, in Research Policy, No. 4, June, pp. 509–529.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Secondo Rolfo

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations