Company Strategies and Regional Effects of the Crisis in the Semi-Periphery: The Case of Poland

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Berlin (2010)


The decade before the financial crisis was a period of a spectacular expansion of the automotive industry in Central Europe, which became strongly integrated into the Europe-wide production networks. This found expression among other things in the growth of exports and the gradual, though selective, industrial upgrading. The slump in the car sales, stemming from the crisis, have hit the automotive sector all over the world very badly. The question is how it affected the semi-peripheral countries such as Poland. Two possible scenarios of this impact can be considered. On the one hand, the relative strengthening of the West European core may take place due to national policies aimed at supporting the home industry and the weakness of indigenous producers in Central Europe. On the other, a growing pressure on lower costs in companies together with a reduced pressure on wage rise may result in a further increase in the activities located in Central Europe at the expense of the West European core.
The answer to the question which of the outlined scenarios prevails can be sought in the carmakers’ and suppliers’ strategies and performance in the semi-periphery in a period of crisis as well as their effects at the national and regional level. At present, different trajectories seem possible as there is enormous variation in the impact of the crisis on individual carmakers and suppliers and hence in their responses and approaches adopted. The following factors can be put forward as determinants of the varying strategies and performance of companies: labour- and capital-intensive branches, low- and high-value-added production, the size of firms and factories, their position in the supply chain (first-, second-tier etc.). The effects can be analyzed both at national and regional/local levels. Exports and imports trends and structures in 2008 and 2009 will show whether the crisis checked industrial upgrading processes observed in Central Europe earlier and affected the position of Poland in the European division of labour in automotive sector. Moreover, regional and local labour market effects are of special importance. This is examined by the analysis of changes in the levels and types of employment in towns and regions dependent on automotive industry. Differences between low- and high-value-added producers, labour- and capital-intensive branches and foreign- and domestic-owned firms are significant here. It is also interesting to explore the impact of the general crisis in the sector on industrial relations and the behaviour of trade unions in particular. The role of national and regional policies introduced in a period of crisis is taken into consideration in this context.

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