INTRODUCTION

Long-established businesses, entrepreneurial families, territory

The Varese Economic Web Museum (Museoweb) was founded to show the deep-rooted attachment that local businesses have been able to cultivate in the area in the course of time. This bond is expressed not only by the fact that the province has one of the largest concentrations of companies in Lombardy but also that businesses here are a territorial institution. In other words, they are organisations that have operated uninterruptedly over a period of time, they are recognised as a factor of social and economic progress and the establishment of archives, museums and universities has had an impact on local culture. Operational continuity over time produces long-lived businesses.

This feature can be recognised as one of the strong points of the entrepreneurial system in Varese and should be analysed with reference to the affairs of another institution: the business family. The stages in a company’s development follow the same rhythm as the succession of generations within the family and cannot be examined separately. A further element that comes to light thanks to the Web Museum is the shared nature of these undertakings. They refer apparently to individual approaches, but a scenario of cooperation and productive integration, in addition to the solidarity of associations and local support policies, can be discerned in the background.

The Chamber of Commerce has carried out this task with the greatest continuity since 1862 by recording births, deaths and transformations of businesses in the commercial register – the Register of Companies. The Chamber records serve as a privileged observation point for our knowledge of the long-established businesses and their history. The topics mentioned in this brief summary are dealt with in greater detail by Renato Scapolan and Mauro Temperelli, president and general secretary of the Varese Chamber of Commerce, while the text by Eddy Moschetti and Giuseppe Paletta on the other hand concentrates on the methodological aspects linked with the research and the prospects of multimedia development.