The structure of industrial production and the service industries is characterized by the prevalence of smarkforce, 30% beingll and medium-sized companies (94% and 5.6% according to 100 workers) thoug981 data), employing, however, only 70% of the workforce, 30% being monopolized by large c ompanies (more than 100 workers) though these comprise only 0.4% of the total. This means that companies are widely dispersed over the whole country, obviously with significant location and concentration of industry, and more than half the industrial comp anies operate at little more than workshop level, as is seen by the small workforce in each production unit.
On the other hand, the small number of large companies is explained by increased concentration, at that level also indicated by the high number of employees.
There is only a limited number of cooperative companies (food sector and the transformation of agricultural products), while large companies tend to become multinational. The presence of companies with foreign capital monopolizing specific commodity secto rs (pharmaceuticals, photographic materials, electronics, cosmetics etc.) is far from rare.
One particular kind of development regards medium-sized companies, frequently derivations of small family-run businesses with a specialized production, which as a result of management flexibility have succeeded in reconverting production and using technol ogical innovations which, with increased competitivity, enable them to penetrate international markets, in this way contributing to the consolidation of the Italian image and presence throughout the world.
The Industrial Sectors
The steel and metalworking industries
The country's economic revival in the immediate postwar period was essentially sustained by development and expansion of the basic industries, particularly the steel industry, itself conditioned by the importation of raw materials such as ores, scrap iron and coal.
Membership of ECSC enabled the Italian steel industry, which had installed the integral processing cycle, to attain extremely high levels of production thus satisfying increasingly greater domestic demand, such as that of the engineering industry, as well as the export market. Following plant reconversion steel and metal production is now stagnating due to the international economic situation dominated by strong competition from Japanese industries and plastics, leading to overproduction in the principal European countries.
The engineering industries
Mechanical engineering production is extremely varied and includes companies such as shipbuilding, aerospace, carbuilding etc. with complex work cycles, together with the manufacturers of simple tools. Component manufacturing is also well developed and cl osely allied to companies producing durable goods not easily classified in any one sector (for example, non-metallic materials used in the car industry: rubber, glass, plastics etc).
In practice, mechanical engineering with its diversification and multiple relationships with other industries is considered the mainstay of the national productive system also in terms of the large workforce employed (over 2,2 million according to the 198 1 census, including small workshops). Apart from cars and other vehicles, the most highly developed industries are tools, household appliances, electronic equipment, precision instruments etc. The industrial machinery sector is particularly active with ex tensive overseas markets, and includes components for complete process cycles.
The chemical industry
The chemical industry is closely linked to mining and quarrying and uses prevalently liquid (oil) and gaseous hydrocarbons (methane) from which an immense range of materials is produced (rubber, plastics, synthetic resins, synthetic fibres, fertilizers et c.), apart from traditional utilization as heating fuel, engine fuel etc.).
Like the steel industry, the chemical...