Let’s talk about you: what is your background, what do you teach, and what are your research interests?
My name is Giancarlo Corò. I teach International Trade and Economic of Development on the International Trade degree, Economics of Globalisation on the PISE degree and Industrial Cluster Economics on the Global Development and Entrepreneurship postgraduate degree, where I’m also coordinator of the faculty. My research interests focus on innovation economics applied to small and medium-sized businesses and on the study of models of international organisation of production, with particular attention to the relationship with the newest technology (Industry 4.0)
Tell us about your academic path.
My interest in economics began to grow when I was studying urbanism and territorial planning at IUAV in the 1980s. At the time a growing international attention was being paid to development processes with a local basis, such as industrial districts and regional innovation systems.
I obtained my PhD at Politecnico di Milano, during which I aimed to analyse regional politics regarding development and innovation. My visiting experience at the London School of Economics and at Berkeley University of California was crucial, because I had the chance to study the most renowned tech districts in the USA. After my PhD, I worked at the Istituto di Ricerche Economiche e Sociali Veneto, and then started teaching Regional Economic Politics at the University of Urbino. I have been at Ca’ Foscari since 2002.
Which scholars do you look up to?
My first influences were Giacomo Becattini and Sebastiano Brusco, two Italian academics who studied industrial districts. I was also influenced by the studies on the competitive advantages of nations by Michael Porter, and even more by Enzo Rullani and his research on knowledge economics, which contributed to looking beyond traditional industrial economics and to considering networks of small and medium-sized businesses as dynamic local systems, in which innovation processes develop in original ways. The analysis on the internationalisation of business was influenced by the studies on Global Value Chains by Gary Gereffi (Duke University), where I was visiting scholar in 2014. In recent years I have been influenced by the Economic complexity models developed by Ricardo Hausmann (Harvard University) and César Hidalgo (MIT).
What are you most passionate about in your field of research?
The most important aspect is trying to understand complex mechanisms of economic development, which determine either the growth and prosperity of a company, or its poverty. We need to pay attention to diverse theoretical approaches: development economy and politics, macroeconomics of growth, knowledge and innovation economics, international economics, and institutional economics. All of these theoretical perspectives contribute to the understanding of the extraordinary and fascinating complexity of economic development processes.
What do studying and researching mean to you?
Over time I have learnt that teaching doesn’t only involve transferring knowledge to students, but igniting their interest in a specific subject and promoting an active learning process, which means looking for tools and methods in order to answer ever-changing questions. I think that, in a successful learning process, theory and experience should complement each other. This also applies to research: it needs to stem from questions that are at the same time original and useful for improving the human condition. Sustainability and social inclusion challenges in modern times are generating research questions that economics cannot ignore.