restricted access Una sfida al capitalismo italiano: Giuseppe Luraghi by Daniele Pozzi (review)
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Reviewed by
Daniele Pozzi. Una sfida al capitalismo italiano: Giuseppe Luraghi. Venice, Italy: Marsilio Editori, 2012. 317 pp. ISBN 978-88-317-1290-3, €30.00 (paper).

This book presents the biography of Giuseppe Luraghi (1905–1991), a manager who played a prominent role in the Italian corporate system for more than half a century, from the late 1920s to the mid-1980s. The research relies on Luraghi’s own personal archive and on other sources: the historical archives of Pirelli and Alfa Romeo, several publications by Luraghi himself, and interviews with managers and executives who had worked with him.

Luraghi was born in a middle-class family in Milan. He lost both parents when he was a teenager. Therefore, he began very soon the struggle to reach economic independence, attending first a professional high school and then Bocconi University, where he graduated in economics and business administration in 1926. Then he accepted [End Page 673] a clerical job in a small foodstuff factory. In 1928 he moved to a textile company (Cotonificio di Rovereto) where he reached a middle-manager position. The turning point of his career was the acquisition of this company by Pirelli in 1929. This event gave him the opportunity to climb his career ladder in one of the biggest and most innovative electric cable and rubber companies in the world. From 1932 to 1936 he took supervision responsibilities over Pirelli’s subsidiaries in Spain, back in Italy he was CEO of Linoleum Company (another subsidiary of Pirelli) until 1943. During the last year of World War II, Luraghi entered in Pirelli’s top management, with a junior position, deputy central director, with duties on commercial activity for tires and rubber products. In 1945 he became central director. In the final years of World War II the owners (the brothers Piero and Alberto Pirelli) stepped aside from the company because of their support to fascism, increasing the power of the existing management. Thus, Pirelli became for a few years a managerial enterprise. Between 1946 and 1948 a debate took place about the organizational structure of the company, mainly referring to the introduction of an American-style multidivisional form. This debate faded after 1948, when the main organizational argument became the contrast between a public company option and the restoration of family control, which prevailed by 1950. Luraghi was one of the stronger supporters of the public company solution. The defeat of this side pushed him to leave the company in 1950. He became for a short time deputy CEO of Sip (an electricity company controlled by the big state-owned holding Iri) then in 1952 he became CEO of Finmeccanica, Iri’s sub-holding for mechanical industry. Many former Pirelli’s young managers followed him in Finmeccanica, becoming the backbone of his attempt to renew the group. Luraghi hoped to find in state ownership a real application of the separation between ownership and control. The Iri group appeared to him as the only place where managerial revolution could work in Italy. However, in 1956 he left Finmeccanica because of contrasts with Iri’s president Aldo Fascetti. He became CEO of the textile company Lanerossi, but in 1960, after Fascetti’s death, he returned to the Iri group as chairman of the car manufacturer Alfa Romeo. Luraghi turned the company to mass-producing small vehicles rather then taylor-made luxury models. In the 1960s and 1970s Alfa Romeo produced a number of successful sporty cars. In 1971 the company, that was headquartered in Milan, opened a new factory near Naples (Alfasud) which enabled it to increase production from 200,000 to 300,000 cars a year by 1973. However, in 1974 he resigned in contrast to Iri’s decision to build a second and unprofitable Alfa Romeo’s plant in Southern Italy. In the final years of his managerial career, Luraghi served as deputy chairman of the [End Page 674] mechanical engineer company Necchi (1974–1979), chairman of the publishing house Mondadori (1977–1982), and deputy chairman of the textile company Marzotto (1979–1985). All of these were family-firms that called Luraghi to oversee leadership succession from the founder to his heirs.

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