Abstract: American-Style Supermarkets Abroad: Imitation or Adaptation? The Case of Italy

Emanuela Scarpellini


This paper presents a case study of the establishment of the first Italian supermarket in 1957, carried out by an American industrial group (Ibec). It raises the question of the export of a model born in the United States in an economic and political context far different from the original one and it points out the adaptations that took place with respect to that initial model. First, it demonstrates how it was necessary to transform the technical and structural aspects of the supermarket as an institution to adapt to Italian society. Second, it analyzes how other serious problems deriving from the particular political and juridical situation in Italy were confronted. Finally, it suggests that fundamental changes were necessary in order to adapt the experiment successfully to a new reality and that the final result proved to be substantially different from the original model.