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 he 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 erivations 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 teel 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 roductive 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 mmense 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 ibres 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 chemical and garment manufacturing industries. The latter, in particular, i s still scattered over the country, in the form of mall firms. The food industry Development of the food industry is a direct consequence of the expansion of large urban centres and progressive industrialization.
Strictly allied to the primary sector (agriculture and livestock) it makes considerable use nevertheless of imports, the re sult of insufficient national agricultural and livestock production. Ascatteringofsmallartisan-typefirmsgenerallyoriented towards meeting local demand is now flanked by numbers of medium-sized companies operating at a national level, using advanced systems of processing, conservation and packaging, themselves flanking the pasta, wine and oil roducers, and other traditional companies.
The food conservation industry is in a special position, connected with agriculture, livestock and fisheries. Certain sectors of the economy such as wines, bakery products and confectionery, are particularly renowned abroad. A number of big multinationals monopolize supplies and are thus in a position to influence market conditions, while mass distribution (super markets) is interdependent with certain food manufacturers, while frozen and vacuum packed foodstuffs have helped to extend seasonal consumption, particularly of fresh fruit, vegetables and perishables.