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Abstract

This paper investigates the role of extra-regional capabilities in regional economic development in a Central and Eastern European context. This is done by analysing the association between the related variety of manufacturing import and export of domestic- and foreign-owned firms on the one hand, and regional employment in manufacturing export on the other. By means of a panel regression framework applied to the Hungarian microregions between 2000 and 2011, we find that domestic firms, in particular, benefit from the related variety of export activities in the regions, while import related to existing export activities is beneficial amongst both foreign and domestic firms. Furthermore, bridging the technological gap between foreign companies and the host economy requires stronger technological relatedness, unless domestic firms have experience in importing.

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Transition economies that formerly were within the Soviet Union’s political and economic sphere exhibited high economic growth before the crisis. In part, increasing total-factor productivity (TFP), a’ residual’ growth factor commonly interpreted as reflecting technological progress, was behind higher growth rates. This paper zooms in on TFP’s contribution to growth in the transition countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, in order to identify which countries have established a knowledge-based growth path or have the potential to develop one in the near future. We start by looking at how the transition countries covered by the paper measure up according to traditional innovation input and output indicators. But the major part of our analysis focuses on identifying countries’ potential for future knowledge-based growth. Few transition economies have highly-developed innovation profiles. Analysis of the prerequisites for knowledge-based growth indicates that transition countries are at a systemic disadvantage relative to the US, the EU-15 and Japan, and have limited potential for knowledge-based growth.

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This paper reviews the issue of population size (scale effects) in idea-based growth models. It addresses both weak and strong scale effects and incorporates the related distinctive features of the three strata of idea-based growth models. The paper also comments on third-generation models, emphasising their fragile framework due to the limited range of R&D spillover space they can accommodate. It is argued that because of the shortcomings of the third-generation models, a precise mapping of the relationship between population size and economic growth requires further research.

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This case study of the medical technology sector in Czechia places a major focus on the position of Czech firms, particularly SMEs, in global production networks and their internationalization. The medical technology (MedTech) industry is on the rise in Czechia, although in relative terms it is part of a relatively less important category. Three types of MedTech firms have been identified in Czechia: branches of TNCs, mostly domestically-owned innovative SMEs, and local SMEs focusing on low-value production. Despite there being several innovative and successful firms, production is dominated by low-value disposables and medical and surgical products. Apart from exports, other forms of internationalization are rare and occur mostly among a number of innovative firms. With a few exceptions, production facilities are established in neighboring post-communist countries. The low levels of internationalization are mostly related to the nature of local SMEs as well as the limited ambitions of local firms. With more sophisticated products Czech SMEs could focus more on Eastern European countries outside the EU, where Czechia has historical economic ties and the regulatory requirements are likely to be less strict. An industry move towards connected health solutions is also an opportunity for start-ups focusing on health applications.

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