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Dario Musolino, Vincenzo Crea and Claudio Marcianò

Abstract

The paper presents and discusses the findings of a field research study undertaken in a rural area in the province of Reggio Calabria, in Southern Italy, focused on firms belonging to the agri-food sector, in particular, on the excellent firms. Its objective is to point out how, even in rural and extremely marginal areas, and in unfavourable socio-economic and institutional contexts, it is possible that excellent firms were born and grew, and that they became competitive at the national and global scale. The paper therefore analyses these entrepreneurial case studies in-depth, using a methodologically mixed approach: on the one hand, focusing on their economic performance (quantitative analysis), and, on the other hand, investigating their strategy by means of direct open interviews. The paper concludes by providing “lessons” useful to understand how firms can not only survive, but also can be competitive and expand their business, even if they are located in extremely unfavourable peripheral contexts. This can be achieved by exploiting the strengths of these territories, which, even if few, they do not lack.