Does geographical proximity matter? The role of strategic coupling of automotive industry and digital entrepreneurs as the mechanism of new path creation in Polish regions

Type de publication:



Gerpisa colloquium, Detroit (2022)


"Digital Entrepreneurs", "Automotive Industry", "Path creation", "strategic coupling", "Poland"


There is a lively debate in economic geography and regional studies about the mechanisms of new path creation (Martin & Sunley 2015, Isaksen & Jakobsen 2017, Hassink et al. 2019). This debate has recently was enriched by a discussion of the transformative role of Industry 4.0 (Szalavetz 2017, De Propris & Bellandi 2021). The automotive industry is at the forefront of introducing new digital technologies (Drahokoupil J. 2020) and indeed- I 4.0 is peceived as a one of the on-going ‘epochal transformation currently occuring in the automotive industry (Covarrubias & Ramirez Perez, 2020: 19). The purpose of the study is to uncover the mechanism of strategic coupling of the digital entrepreneurs i.e. the providers of Industry 4.0 solutions for manufacturing sectors and automotive companies in different regional contexts. The main research question which authors seek to answer is „To what extent co-location (geographic proximity) to automotive clients is essential for the development and upgrade of the digital entrepreneurs?
In this study, we employ both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore our research question because combining the two approaches can provide more comprehensive insight. The authors crafted two detailed databases on a company and plant level; digital entrepreneurs and automotive industry in Poland. They will be processed by geostatistical methods (Moran’s I analysis) to uncover the co-location patterns. Company questionnaire survey and desk-research of available data (i.e. yearly reports, companies www) will identify the networks of cooperation, while In-depth interviews (IDIs) with automotive companies and key-informants reveal the mechanisms behind. the preliminary findings suggest that regional endowment that enables the new path creation are the competences of big and large foreign-owned automotive plants (as primary adopters of Industry 4.0), the type of regional innovation system and the local entrepreneurship in the IT sector.
The study aims to advance the discourse on pathways of regional development and core-periphery debate by exploring and explaining conditions and mechanisms of emergence of endogenous, technological development path. This allow to capture the mechanisms of path interdependence and acknowledge the role of heterogeneous actors. By advancing the discourse combining two discourses on new regional industrial path creation and regional innovations system, the study will offer a novel – both evolutionary and institutional – perspective on regional restructuring in the post-socialist regions in the semi-periphery of global capitalism. The results of the study are not directly applicable, although they may be useful for the national and regional policy. The findings fits well into the ongoing initiatives at the European, national and regional level that tackle the issue of the implications of the technological transformation and its potential impacts in the medium and long-term.
¬Covarrubias A., Ramirez Perez M., 2020, Introduction: Changing Geographies and Frontiers of the Automotive Industry, [in:] Alex Covarrubias V., Sigfrido M. Ramírez Perez, New Frontiers of the Automobile IndustryExploring Geographies, Technology, and Institutional Challenges, Palgrave Macmillan, 1-38.
Drahokoupil J., 2020, The challenge of digital transformation in the automotive industry. Jobs, upgrading and the prospects for development, ETUI, Brussels.
Hassink, R., Isaksen, A., & Trippl, M., 2019, Towards a comprehensive understanding of new regional industrial path development. Regional Studies, 53(11), 1636–1645.
Isaksen, A., & Jakobsen, S. E., 2017, New path development between innovation systems and individual actors. European Planning Studies, 25(3), 355–370.
Isaksen, A., Trippl, M., Kyllingstad, N., & Rypestøl, J. O., 2020, Digital transformation of regional industries through asset modification. Competitiveness Review, 31, 130–144.
Martin, R., & Sunley, P., 2015, Towards a developmental turn in evolutionary economic geography? Regional Studies, 49(5), 712–732.
Szalavetz A., 2017, Industry 4.0 in ‘factory economies’, [in:] Galgóczi B. and Drahokoupil J. (eds.) Condemned to be left behind? Can Central and Eastern Europe emerge from its low-wage model?, Brussels, ETUI, 133–152.




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