The consortium model
In Italy, small and medium firms have developed consortia to provide collective services where scale is important. Many of these consortia are for marketing, with groups of firms having sales representatives overseas, or providing fashion and market intelligence. The cheese makers of Parma have their own brand (Parmesan) and strict rules for the production of milk and processing of the cheese. Other consortia are for technological up-grading, with consortia staff funded to scan the world technology markets, attend trade fairs and conferences, and report back to consortia members. Training, accounting, finance and political representation are all provided through consortia, whose chief characteristic is that they are controlled by the members. They are the equivalent of inter-firm co-operatives.