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State Ownership and International Competitiveness: The Italian Finmeccanica from Alfa Romeo to Aerospace and Defense (1947–2007)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2015

Abstract

The article reconstructs the history of the Italian state-owned holding Finmeccanica, which since its birth in 1948 lived through a number of corporate reorganizations (shipyards, automobiles with Alfa Romeo, energy) and is now one of the leading European companies in aerospace and defence. With reference to the history of the Italian state entrepreneurship, this case may be paradigmatic of the advent of a new era, characterized by partially privatized enterprises in sectors considered strategic which are successful in the international arena (Finmeccanica, ENI). The article shows that the aeronautics, space and electronics divisions began in the 1950s and as a result of their technological characteristics were kept relatively free from political interference, with a strong propensity to pursue internationalization and thus competitiveness. The conclusion is that, under certain conditions, state ownership may result effective in ensuring not only adequate financial resources, but also a proper managerial governance.

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2010. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Business History Conference. All rights reserved.

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