Reti strategiche come evoluzione delle reti emergenti. L’esperienza di due contratti di rete nel bresciano (Strategic networks as an evolution of emerging networks. The experience of two network contracts in the Brescia area)

  • Federica Brunetta
  • Anna Censi
  • Francesco Rullani
  • Francesca Vicentini
Keywords: network contracts, firm competitiveness, networks, strategic networks


Purpose of the paper: Italian firms are increasingly drawn to modify their own competitive positioning. Traditional network relations, such as industrial districts or subcontracting value chains, are not themselves sufficient to generate this repositioning, since they are not designed to achieve a strategic goal, but tend to emerge spontaneously. We focus on an evolutionary path, empirically drawn from two case studies, leading to the definition of strategic network, i.e., an aggregation resulting from joint projects designed to manage the shift of partner firms towards an higher value-added segment of the value chain.

Methodology: This paper analyzes the formal network contract as an empirical phenomenon capturing the theoretical concept of strategic network. It does so investigating the case of network contracts flourished in the area of Brescia.

Findings: Strategic networks analyzed via two network contracts showed that different strategies exist to exploit value from the diversity of member firms; risks can arise from this diversity; risks can be tackled by means of proper governance mechanisms.

Research limits: The analysis  is focused on two representative cases. Undoubtedly, enriching this analysis  with the observation of networks embedded in other areas would enhance and enrich the discussion raised in the article

Practical implications: The article analyzes the problems tackled, the strategies used, and the solutions selected by the network actors embedded in a “network-intensive area” (Brescia province). The idea is that these networks can act as a models for other entrepreneurs who want to build new networks or promote the existing ones.

Originality of the study: The emergence of networks by means of formal network contracts remains largely unexplored. The analysis  highlights the critical issues and the great potential of this instrument.


BECCATINI G. (1987), Mercato e forze locali: il distretto industriale, Il Mulino Editore, Bologna.

BELUSSI F., GOTTARDI G., RULLANI E. (2003), The Technological Evolution of Industrial Districts, Kluwer, Boston, MA.

BELUSSI F., PILOTTI L. (2002), “Learning and innovation by networking within the Italian industrial districts: the development of an explorative analytical model”, Sinergie, n. 58, pp. 3-43.

BRASS D., GALASKIEWICZ J., GREVE H., TSAI W. (2004), “Taking stock of networks and organizations: A multilevel perspective”, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 47, n. 6, pp. 795-817.

BURT R. (1992), Structural holes: The social structure of competition, Harvard University Press, Boston.

CAFAGGI F. (2009), Il Contratto di rete. Commentario, Il Mulino Editore, Bologna.

CAFAGGI F., IAMICELI P., MOSCO G.D. (2012), I contratti di rete stipulati nel 2010-2011: le prime evidenze, Fondazione Bruno Visentin, RetImpresa, UnionCamere.

CALZOLAIO E., D’ALVIA F., DI MARCO P., RULLANI F., TRONCI M. (2013), Il Management delle reti d’impresa. Dalla costituzione alla gestione operativa, RetInsieme.

CAPUANO G. (2007), Mesoeconomia. Teorie ed evidenze empiriche di economia regionale, Franco Angeli Editore, Milano.

CARNAZZA P. (2012), “Imprese cooperative e contratti di rete: i principali risultati di un’indagine qualitativa”, Fondazione Euricse, Working Paper, vol. 12, n. 44, pp. 1-17.

COLEMAN J. (1988), “Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital”, The American Journal of Sociology, vol. 94, Supplement, pp. 95-120.

DAVID P.A., RULLANI F. (2008), “Dynamics of Innovation in an ‘Open Source’ Collaboration Environment: Lurking, Laboring and Launching FLOSS Projects on SourceForge”, Industrial and Corporate Change, vol. 17, n. 4, pp. 647-710.

GRANOVETTER M. (1973), “The Strength of Weak Ties”, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 78, n. 6, pp. 1360-1380.

GRANOVETTER M. (1985), “Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness”, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 91, n. 3, pp. 481-510.

GULATI R., (1998) “Alliance and networks”, Strategic Management Journal, vol. 19, n. 4, pp. 293-317.

GULATI R. (1999), “Network Location and Learning: the influence of network resources and firm capabilities on alliances formation”, Strategic Management Journal, vol. 20, n. 5, pp. 397-420.

GULATI R., NOHRIA N., ZAHEER A. (2000) “Strategic networks”, Strategic Management Journal, vol. 21, n. 3, pp. 203-215.

HANSEN M. (1999), “The search-transfer problem: The role of weak ties in sharing knowledge across organization subunits”, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 44, n. 1, pp. 82-111.

JARRILLO J. (1988), “On Strategic Networks”, Strategic Management Journal, vol. 9, n. 1, pp. 31-41.

LEVINTHAL D.A. (1997), “Adaptation on Rugged Landscapes”, Management Science, vol. 43, n. 7, pp. 934-950.

LIPPARINI A. (2002), La gestione strategica del capitale intellettuale e del capitale sociale, Il Mulino, Bologna.

LORENZONI G., “Genesis of a research field: district, network, strategic network”, Journal of Management and Governance, vol. 14, n. 3, pp. 221-239.

MASSARONI E., RICOTTA F. (2009), “Dal sistema impresa ai sistemi di imprese. Suggestioni e limiti delle reti d’impresa”, Sinergie, n. 80, pp. 3-29.

MAUGERI M.R (2009), “Reti di impresa e contratto di rete”, in Macario F., Scognamiglio C. (a cura di), I Contratti, vol. 10, pp. 957-965.

MELE C. (2009), “Value logic in networks: resource integration by stakeholders”, Sinergie quaderni, n. 16, pp. 217-241.

OBSTFELD D. (2005), “Social networks, the tertius iungens orientation, and involvement in innovation”, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 50, n. 1, pp. 100-130.

OSSERVATORIO INTESA SANPAOLO-MEDIOCREDITO ITALIANO (2014), Il quarto Osservatorio-Intesa Sanpaolo-Mediocredito Italiano sulle reti d’impresa.

PENCO L. (2010), “Dai sistemi locali ai network de-territorializzati: verso i meta-distretti e le reti tra distretti”, Sinergie, n. 83, pp. 9-29.

POWELL W., KOPUT K., SMITH-DOERR L. (1996), “Interorganizational Collaboration and the Locus of Innovation: Networks of Learning in Biotechnology”, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 41, n. 1, pp. 116-145.

RETIMPRESA, CONFINDUSTRIA E STUDIO LEXJUS SINACTA, (2011), Guida pratica al contratto di rete, Le guide di RetImpresa, RetImpresa, Roma.

RETIMPRESA (2013), Il Management delle reti: dalla costituzione alla gestione operativa, Le guide di RetImpresa, RetImpresa, Roma.

RICCIARDI A. (2009), Le reti di impresa, Franco Angeli Editore, Milano.

RICCIARDI A. (2010), Strategie di cooperazione fra aziende e mitigazione del rischio operativo: i vantaggi competitivi delle reti di impresa, Egea Editore, Milano.

RULLANI E. (2008), “L’economia della conoscenza nel capitalismo delle reti”, Sinergie, n. 77, p. 74.

RULLANI E. (2013), “Territori in transizione: nuove reti e nuove identità per le economie e le società locali”, Sinergie, n. 91, pp. 141-163.

SCOTT J., CARRINGTON P.J. (2011) The SAGE handbook of social network analysis, Sage publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

SCOTT J. (2000), Social network Analysis: A Handbook, Sage publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

STAMPACCHIA P., RUSSO SPENA T. (2009), “Management in a network context: a new model”, Sinergie quaderni, n. 16, pp. 245-268.

TEECE D. (1996), “Firm organization, industrial structure, and technological innovation”, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, vol. 31, n. 2, pp. 193-224.

TRAVAGLINI G. (2011), Aggregazione di imprese e contratto di rete, Franco Angeli Editore, Milano.

UNIONCAMERE (2013), I Contratti di Rete: Rassegna dei principali risultati quantitativi.

UZZI B. (1997), “Social Structure and Competition in Interfirm Networks: The Paradox of Embeddedness”, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 42, n. 1, pp. 35-67.

VELO D. (2012), “La varietà dei sistemi locali per l’innovazione emergenti in Europa”, Sinergie, n. 84, pp. 5-20.

WASSERMAN S., FAUST K., (1994), Social network analysis: Methods and applications, vol. 8, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

YIN R.K. (2009), “Case study research: Design and methods”, Applied Social Research Methods series, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.