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Business Services: The New Frontier of Competitiveness


The business services sector plays an increasingly important role in enhancing a country's competitiveness. Reduced product cycles times, prompt delivery, and improved customer services are crucial for the survival of firms, and in particular exporters, in a competitive environment. As a result, the service content of final exports is increasing. In traditional and high-labor intensive sectors, it is the creation of a brand, design and marketing to play a central role, whereas in technology-intensive sectors, this role is played by R&D and after sale assistance. Recently, in line with developments at world level, the Italian economy has witnessed a significant increase of business services. In the EU's total supply of business services, however, Italy still occupies a relatively weak position, and the average size of Italian business services firms is below the European one. Such features, given the relevance of services in firms' competitiveness and in internationalization trends may represent a factor of weakness for the Italian economy. This book recommends to invest resources in business services to "support" production activities: it highlights which services may "contribute" the most to the internationalization process; therefore helping to formulate adequate economic policies. The book also shows that the supply of business services is highly diversified across regions and categories, in terms of both endowment and access. Only by reducing these differences, the country's competitiveness can be improved.

Ricerca coordinata dalla Fondazione Manlio Masi in collaborazione con l'Istituto affari internazionali.Presentata alla conferenza "Italy's external competitiveness" organizzata a Roma il 24-25 novembre 2009 da Fondazione Manlio Masi, Istituto affari internazionali, Dipartimento del Tesoro del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze e Fondazione Economia Tor Vergata-CEIS.