Industry Production


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 production unit.

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
relationships with other industries is considered the mainstay of the national
productive system also in terms of the large workforce employed (over 2,2
million according to the 198 1 census, including small workshops). Apart from
cars and other vehicles, the most highly developed industries are tools,
household appliances, electronic equipment, precision instruments etc. The
industrial machinery sector is particularly active with ex tensive overseas
markets, and includes components for complete process cycles.

The chemical industry

The chemical industry is closely linked to mining and quarrying and uses
prevalently liquid (oil) and gaseous hydrocarbons (methane) from which an
immense range of materials is produced (rubber, plastics, synthetic resins,
synthetic fibres, fertilizers et c.), apart from traditional utilization as
heating fuel, engine fuel etc.).

Like the steel industry, the chemical industry has been going through a critical
period due to over-production and problems related to modernization of plant.
One serious additional condition is the need to resort to large-scale
importation of raw materia ls for transformation, and consequent submission to
fluctuating conditions on the international market.

The textile industry

Textiles are the oldest Italian industry, widespread throughout the former
States on the peninsula and frequently linked to the rural community which
provided plentiful low cost labour. In the postwar period, this sector faced a
period of crisis caused pr imarily by the use of old machinery and inefficient
working methods, though also by competition by foreign producers, particularly
in developing countries which were already raw material suppliers (cotton, wool,
jute etc.).

In actual fact, the crisis in the textile industry has deeper roots in the
progressive decay of some traditional related activities, such as silkworm
breeding and the cultivation of hemp and flax. The utilization of artificial
fibres derived from cellulos e, and later of synthetics derived from
hydrocarbons, together with renewal of production plant (mainly automated) and
job reorganization, has enabled far higher levels of productivity to be reached,
offset by a considerable decrease in the workforce and concentration of
companies.

For its raw material supplies (synthetic fibres) and the utilization of the
fabrics produced, the textile sector is closely allied (also by vertical
mergering of companies) to the