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Digital entrepreneurs and Industry 4.0.The key mechanism of the new path creation in the industrial regions?

Project coordinator: dr hab. Krzysztof Gwosdz, prof. UJ

1. Objective of the project

The main objective of the project is to contribute conceptually and empirically to the ongoing debate in the socio-economic geography on the mechanisms of formation of new development paths for industrial regions in the face of profound technological changes called Industry 4.0 or even the fourth industrial revolution. The authors of the research particularly aim to determine whether the so-called ‚digital entrepreneurs’, i.e. innovative companies offering services and products included in the Industry 4.0 solutions, can become a force capable of breaking the existing economic specificity of industrial regions in Central Europe, which are often stuck in the so-called ‚medium development trap’ and ‚dependent development’, competing in the European and global economy with low costs rather than innovations. Meanwhile, without shifting the economic structure towards highly productive activities, the ‚catching up’ countries and regions will not be able to join the group of the most developed regions that produce innovations and bring together economic activities of high added value.

2. What research will be carried out within the project?

The research will involve a variety of sources of information, including statistical data, bigdata collections, company reports, surveys, in-depth interviews with various stakeholders forming the components of the regional innovation system, focusedgroup interviews. The analysis will be conducted on the basis of quantitative and qualitative methods. The research will be conductedon two spatial scales: national and regional. On a national scale, the scale of activity, distribution and specificity of digital entrepreneurs will be identified. The in-depth research covering industrial companies, digital entrepreneurs, business environment institutions, including universities, will be carried out in three provinces in Poland, where the role of industry is significant and at the same time the sectoral specificity, spatial organisation of economic activities and the paths of transformation after 1990 are different.

3. What is the reason behind this research topic?

Nowadays, omnipresent digitisation processes change the functioning of entire economic sectors and the labour market, as well as cause great social, economic and spatial transformations. The technologies of industry digitisation, including cyber-physical systems, collaborative robots, artificial intelligence algorithms revolutionise the organisation of production (‚how it is produced’) and shape its new spatial organisation (‚where it is produced’). The labour costs in modern ‚intelligent factories’ are much less significant, which changes the factors of competitiveness, affecting especially the position of countries with a medium level of development (so-called ‚catching up countries’), which in the last two decades have attracted significant investments in industry from other countries by offering a favourable combination of labour costs and investment incentives. This may lead to a reduction in their industrial potential (pessimistic scenario). However, another scenario is possible –the emergence of clusters of advanced industry and the so-called ‚digital entrepreneurs’ in the industrial regions of medium-developed countries. The latter are, in particular, IT companies with domestic capital, which, as a result of the existence of a regional market showing demand for the solutions they offer and with the support of public institutions, can become a new, significant element of the regional economy. How and where this process may occur has been very poorly recognised so far, but it is of great theoretical and practical relevance.

4.Expected results of the project

The project will provide new knowledge in the field of economic geography and regional studies in one of their main areas of interest, i.e. formation of core−periphery dynamics and conditions for the emergence of new economic activities during periods of rapid technological changes as well as shock events (the project will consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic). In particular, it will reveal the mechanisms and factors shaping the origin and development of the mutually dependent economic pathways in industrial regions, taking into account the active role of companies and their institutional environment.


Paths and limits to industrial upgrading: high- or low-road of development in Polish manufacturing

Project coordinator: prof. dr hab. Bolesław Domański

The main objective of the project is to capture the scope and mechanisms of upgrading in Poland in medium-high and high technology manufacturing industries heavily dependent on foreign investors. Upgrading processes are understood as a move towards high value-added products and services with growing competences of firms operating in Poland within global production networks. This will be regarded as a highroad of development in contrast to the low-road characterised by the manufacturing of standardised products with limited non-production competences. The following four questions are posed in the study:

  1. To what extent has industrial upgrading been taking place in various types of manufacturing companies (foreign subsidiaries and domestic producers, large and medium-size firms, manufacturers of both labour-intensive and capital-intensive products, three manufacturing sectors)?
  2. What are the trajectories, mechanisms, and factors of upgrading?
  3. What are the relationships between industrial upgrading processes and the employment conditions and labour market trends?
  4. What is the impact of both regional and local characteristics on upgrading processes?

Fashion market in the context of sustainable development

Project coordinator: dr hab. Monika Murzyn-Kupisz, prof. UJ

The aim of the project:

The aim of the project is to undertake a multidimensional, complex analysis of the functioning and spatial patters of the sustainable fashion market in Poland. On the one hand, the supply side of the market will be considered, both large firms – mayor players in the Polish context, SMEs and independent designers. On the other hand, the demand side – diverse attitudes and behaviours of consumers will be examined. The issue of inclusion of sustainable fashion approaches in curriculums of schools offering fashion majors on postgraduate and university level will also be taken into account.

Current research tasks:

Interviews with SMEs and independent fashion designers (03.2020-present).

Interviews with organisers of fashion events (03.2020- present).

Interviews with owners and employees of independent fashion shops and shops with clothing made in Poland (2021).

Development of the questionnaire content for a survey of attitudes to sustainable fashion (2021).

Interviews with teachers and staff of HEI institutions educating fashion designers in Poland (03.2020-present).

Publications under review:

D. Hołuj, M. Murzyn-Kupisz, Promowanie idei mody zrównoważonej w działalności szkół wyższych i policealnych kształcących projektantów mody w Polsce, „Zarządzanie w Kulturze”, nr 3, 2021 (w recenzji/under review).

Ch. Dalle Nogare, M. Murzyn-Kupisz, Do museums foster innovation through engagement with the cultural and creative industries?, „Journal of Cultural Economics”, 2021 (w recenzji/under review).

Kartowanie zjawisk związanych z modą w przestrzeni Krakowa (2021).

Women and development of industrial cities – conditions and mechanisms

Project coordinator: mgr Agnieszka Świgost-Kapocsi

The main goal of the project:

The main goal of the project is to understand the mechanisms that shape dynamic relations between traits, attitudes and activities of women and the development of the industrial city. On the one hand, the conditions of industrial cities (social, economic or political) will be taken into account. On the other, the features of women – inhabitants of the analyzed cities – will be studied. Particular attention will be paid to human capital, aspirations and roles undertaken both within the family and for the benefit of local communities. Moreover, the research involves determining the nature of women leaders’ activity in cities. The research will be carried out in four medium-sized industrial towns – Dzierżoniów, Mielec, Stalowa Wola and Zduńska Wola. The case study towns are characterized by a varied level of women’s’ professional activity in industry, a different dominant industry and a different trajectory of development after 1989.


  1. Świgost-Kapocsi A., 2021, 200 Years of Feminisation of Professions in Poland—Mechanism of False Windows of Opportunity, Sustainability, 13, 8179, 1-17.
  2. Świgost-Kapocsi A., 2020, The role of women in local and regional development in the light of current research, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, (w druku)



Mobility strategies and attitudes and social behaviours of non-metropolitan rural inhabitants with poor public transport accessibility

Project coordinator: mgr Łukasz Fiedeń

The aim of the project:

  1. Identification of mobility strategies of non-metropolitan rural areas residents.
  2. Identification of factors influencing mobility strategies applied by non-metropolitan rural areas residents.
  3. Indication of the impact of selected mobility strategies on the attitudes and social behaviour of non-metropolitan rural areas residents.