Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries
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Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries

Edited by Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen and David Jacobson

It is a general understanding that the advanced economies are currently undergoing a fundamental transformation into knowledge-based societies. There is a firm belief that this is based on the development of high-tech industries. Correspondingly, in this scenario low-tech sectors appear to be less important. A critique of this widely held belief is the starting point of this book. It is often overlooked that many of the current innovation activities are linked to developments inside the realm of low-tech. Thus the general objective of the book is to contribute to a discussion concerning the relevance of low-tech industries for industrial innovativeness in the emerging knowledge economy.
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Chapter 11: Innovation Activities versus Competitiveness in Low- and Medium-Technology-based Economies: The Case of Poland

Anna Wziatek-Kubiak


˛tek-Kubiak Anna Wzia INTRODUCTION The collapse of the central planning system resolved the geographicoeconomic division of Europe into a model with the former socialist Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) at the periphery and the market economies of the European Union (EU) at the centre. This division was one result of the long isolation of CEE from the world economy. The planned economic system left CEE countries with distorted economies, a low level of technology – resulting in low-quality goods – poor competitiveness of most manufacturing industries and an anti-innovation bias. The structure of incentives that was passed on from the old system tended to discourage technological change and innovation, and any improvements in efficiency tended to occur on the basis of system-specific institutional characteristics. With the new member-states’ progress in institutional reforms and their adjustment to market-economy institutions, the major issue that has emerged is how to sustain further growth. These countries’ preaccession progress and their increasing capacity to withstand the competitive struggle within the single market have shifted their focus towards the problem of creating knowledge-based economies, and in particular, of increasing the role of innovation. Changes in the structure of production in terms of the level of technology is discussed in this chapter. Low- and medium-technology industries are commonly regarded as based on a low level of knowledge with limited, if any, impact of innovation on their competitive performance, and thus with no potential for future development. The high-tech focus of discussions prevalent in the literature, which tend...

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