The international conference intends to deal with the apparently antithetic relationship existing between globalisation and local development from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective.

The world is currently experiencing a prolonged period of openness and integration, popularly labelled as “globalisation”. The standard approach explains that increasing openness, interaction, and integration of societies, economies and technologies lead inevitably to convergence of practices, standards, and structures. Particular features and distinctiveness either disappear or have to adapt and integrate into the global flow. In an alternative scenario, based on distinctive socio-economic systems (“national capitalisms”), convergence is not a necessary – and not even a likely - outcome of globalisation. Under these conditions it is impossible, inconvenient or irrational to converge to a unique model that would waste precious idiosyncrasies, impose higher costs to most of the countries and actors, or dangerously increase the risk of uniformity as against the advantage of differentiation seen as a sort of insurance mechanism against the unpredictable and the unstable.

Where does local development lie in these dominant paradigms? The relevant literature is not explicit on the issue in that it concentrates on either local development per se in fundamental isolation from broader processes, or it sees local issues as mainly the necessary declination in the territory of global processes.

A new brand of experiences, of research and of literature, paying greater attention to the micro-analysis of economic and social processes, have recently put the issue in a new light and jeopardised existing conventional wisdom of either brand. In particular, theoretical and applied research on localised competences (originally linked to a cognitive interpretation of the firm and then extended to local economies), actual features of delocalisation, social capital at micro- and meso-level, cultural and social interpretations of technology, multilevel governance and subsidiarity have opened new perspectives and new questions for local development. In this perspective, dynamic factors bear a fundamental role in explaining the features and evolution of local development and its relationship to globalisation. It is particularly the “dynamic legacies” deriving from the organisations history that influence the way in which decision-makers structure organisations. However, the outcome is not predetermined, since the elements that constitute the legacy have a dynamic relationship both mutually and with the context. In this, the history and competences of organisations and their relationship to the “territory” influence the features and evolution of globalisation, and the way in which organisations are able to mobilise and reorganise their legacy in a competitive context is what distinguishes winners from losers.