Giorgio Fuà was a leading Italian economist who played three inextricably linked roles: economic scholar, educator and entrepreneur.
Fuà studied the economy of Italy and especially of Marche; he was the first to interpret the Marche model of development and grasp its structural characteristics: a myriad of small businesses rooted in the territory.
Fuà understood the need for training to strengthen and broaden Italy’s entrepreneurial culture – “without entrepreneurs there can be no development” – and he conceived two far-sighted projects: the Faculty of Economics of Ancona, which he founded in 1959 (and is named after him) and ISTAO, established in 1967.
Fuà had three important teachers: Adriano Olivetti, who brought him into the company in 1941, and with whom Fuà worked as economic adviser until 1949; Gunnar Myrdal at the Economic Commission for Europe (1950-54); and he became a collaborator of Enrico Mattei at ENI, where he founded the Ufficio Studi (Research Department) (1954-62).
These top three capi (“bosses”), as they used to be called, helped Fuà to develop the key idea of his research and of his work: the entrepreneur is first and foremost a leader, “the characteristic of an entrepreneur is to give meaning and direction to the work of others. Entrepreneur-leaders do not strive only for profit: rather, they love their product, they are able to motivate their employees without strict application of authority, and they seek to improve the environment that has nurtured them.”
It is these entrepreneurs who trigger the economic, social, political, and cultural development of a nation.
Fuà stated that it was essential to look to these entrepreneurs, and the economist was in fact inspired by one of them (Adriano Olivetti) when he founded ISTAO (the Istituto Adriano Olivetti), where students learn not only managerial techniques but also how to organise their own work and the work of others, and where they learn how to take risks.
The economic-science output of Giorgio Fuà was multi-faceted. His works may be divided into six categories or themes: 1) economic development and structural transformations; 2) geographical distribution of development; 3) demography and development; 4) governance of the economy; 5) entrepreneurship and development; 6) the economy and the education of the economist.
Key aspects of Fuà’s works include economic aspects (of an aggregate and quantitative nature – study of the labour market), as well as demographic, regional, social, and microeconomic aspects. Fuà was the inspiration behind and interpreter of what in later years was to become known as the “NEC model” or the Adriatic-Ionic macro-region.