Although Italy has all the necessary economic potential, historically it has attracted fewer foreign direct investments than the other major advanced European economies. On the one hand, the limits to foreign investments are mainly factors that are external to companies, linked to the bureaucratic system, the slowness of justice, a complex tax system and above all, an unstable regulatory framework. On the other hand, Italy’s main factors of attractiveness are strictly economic, among which are the presence of strategic production chains of excellence and industrial districts. Despite the systemic difficulties, foreign-capital companies in Italy have managed to develop a very strong bond with Italian SMEs and their local industries. Through these links, foreign companies are able to transmit new knowledge by encouraging product and process innovation.

In this context, an analysis of the supply chains activated by foreign investors in Italy is essential to identify the Italian strengths in attracting new investments, new technologies and new production knowledge.


The study analyzes how, despite the systemic difficulties, companies with foreign capital present in Italy have managed to develop a strong link with Italian SMEs and their local industries. Its objectives in particular are:

  • Evaluate the impact of collaboration between large foreign companies in Italy and SMEs from an economic and social point of view;
  • Identify qualitative and quantitative elements that make it possible to attract new foreign investments in Italy through the enhancement of relevant supply chains for the Global Value Chains;
  • Identify success stories and virtuous governance models of the supply chains that can be replicated;
  • Identify those fundamental factors that can be of support to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its diplomatic and consular network in their permanent dialogue with foreign economic entrepreneurs interested in operating in Italy.


The project is carried out by researchers from Luiss, Confindustria, Istat, Bank of Italy and a series of international experts 

Two researchers from Luiss, Valentina Meliciani and Antonio Majocchi

Two researchers from Confindustria, Anna Ruocco and Massimo Rodà,

One researcher from IMT of Lucca, member of the Observatory’s scientific committee, Armando Rungi.

One researcher from ISTAT, member of the Observatory’s scientific committee, Alessandro Faramondi.

One researcher and ex director of ISTAT’s Statistic Production Department, member of the Observatory’s scientific committee, Roberto Monducci

One researcher from the Bank of Italy, member of the Observatory’s scientific committee, Roberto Torrini.

Aims and expected results

To maximize the impact of the results, the research project includes several products:

  • Publication of a research article in an international academic journal;
  • Publication of a volume on the subject of attractiveness and production chains;
  • Extrapolation of a series of notes – with quarterly distribution – concerning the main issues covered in the volume;
  • Publication of the research results in the SEP working papers series;
  • Distribution through the production of two reports in two formats published by Luiss SEP: a Policy Brief, which will focus on the implications of the results for public policies, and a Five Bullet Points, which will allow the main messages to be conveyed immediately;
  • Organization of workshops in which the results of the project will be presented and researchers, companies and political decision-makers, Italian and European institutions, that have worked on the same issues addressed by the project, as well as MAECI officials both present in Italy and at foreign offices.


The project is carried out within the newly established Observatory on Foreign Companies in Italy (, created from the collaboration between Confindustria and SEP with the aim of becoming the reference point at a national level in the analysis and in the collection of data on foreign companies residing in Italy from an economic, environmental and social point of view, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.


Sara Landi’s podcast and research activity received the support of the Analysis, Planning and Historical Documentation Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation pursuant to Art. 23-bis of Presidential Decree 18/1967 as part of the project Large Foreign Companies and Italian Production Chains: from the Impact on the Territories to the Integration of SMEs in Global Value Chains.
The views contained in this work reflect those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

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