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Local Strenght and Global Reach: A Study of Private Sector Development of the Automotive Industry Supporting a Sustainable Regional Development in Silesia.

By Line Bech and Sofie J A H Pedersen


The overall objective of this dissertation is to analyse the barriers and potentials for the automotive sector’s contribution to enhanced sustainability in the region of Silesia in Southern Poland. The dissertation examines the potentials of a Green Car Cluster, a regional private sector development strategy based on an innovative cluster, within the context of an increased globalisation of the production structures in the automotive industries. The strategy combines the measures of increased competitiveness through systemic innovation and differentiated production with an objective of enhancing re-gional sustainability. During the communist era, Silesia was the centre of mining and steel production. These industries have contributed to heavy pollution of the environment and public health. The transition process from planned to market economy subsequently changed the demands, Silesian companies had to meet. Furthermore, the privatisation of the former conglomerates fragmented the industrial relations and the restructuring of the companies led to huge unemployment in the region. The state of the region calls for efforts to enhance sustainable development. During the 1990s the Polish government established a number of Special Economic Zones in order to attract foreign investments. The zones offer tax exemptions to inves-tors – adding to benefits of the already relatively low wages of Poland. This private sector development strategy has succeeded in attracting a huge amount of investments to Silesia, especially within the automotive industry. The transnational corporations locating in Silesia benefit from the low factor conditions, but so far only very few have links to the local supplier-base. Thus, the transnational corporations’ only contri-bution to the local society is jobs. The global automotive industries are not very com-mitted to the region. If more comprehensive links to local suppliers and research and development institutions are not established, Silesia might see the transnational corpo-rations moving their activities to new low cost areas within the next 10-20 years. The objective of a private sector development should be to strengthen the links be-tween the global automotive industry and the local suppliers, and develop more ad-vanced factor conditions such as innovative partnerships. In order to employ a re-gional development contributing to the general prosperity of Silesia, and not only serving the short-term interests of the large corporations and their shareholders, we suggest that Silesia rethink its private sector development strategy. The development strategy should result in a contribution to the overall sustainable development of the region in order to overcome current development problems of Silesia

Topics: automotive industry, Poland, Silesia, sustainable regional development, private sector development, innovation, clusters, transition
Year: 2005
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