Purpose – This study aims to analyze the territory as a distinctive factor through which the concept and practice of “Made in Italy” operates. Specifically, the study considers the role of local and sub-national entrepreneurial collaborations that preserve and enhance factors such as history, style and talent as the essence of Italian “quality” and as the pillar of Italian territorial capitalism. Design/methodology/approach – The research examines this Italian phenomenon by investigating small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that successfully compete abroad (and also in the domestic market) with a “glocal” approach, adopting the entrepreneurial formula of industrial districts. Findings – The results indicate that international expansion is becoming increasingly more complex (as is every growth/development strategy) but that “glocalism” could represent a potential driver for the success of internationalization strategies. Specifically, for SMEs operating in industrial districts, territorial capitalism could emerge as a unique competitive factor, because it is a component of local structural capital and global reputational capital, as in the case of“Made in Italy.” Originality/value – In an increasingly globalized market environment, many companies look to foreign markets to maintain and expand competitive advantage and business performance. Once the companies embark on this endeavor, organizations are involved in governing and managing these networks of finance, production and communication and the distribution-related relationships that constitute globalization. The push to engage in international development is currently imperative for SMEs, which need to extend their business engagement beyond conventional local markets and identify and exploit their distinctive competitive advantage to be able to succeed. One possible way of achieving this is the close interaction with the local territories in which these enterprises reside.
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