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Development & transformation

Prof. Jacek Zaucha


  • Krystyna Gawlikowska-Hueckel
  • Tomasz Brodzicki
  • Alina Landowska

"In capitalism, man exploits man. In communism it's exactly the opposite."

John Kenneth Galbraith

The primary objective of government economic policy should be to create optimal conditions which guarantee relatively high and stable economic growth. It is often emphasized that the proverbial fruits of growth should be justly shared. Only in this case is it possible to permanently improve a country's development, which, in turn, is reflected in the standard of living of its inhabitants.

At this point we should ask fundamental questions: What determines the level of economic development of countries? What processes have led to great wealth of certain nations and extreme poverty of others? Why have some countries experienced an economic miracle and others - quite the opposite - economic disaster? Can the economic policy of a country realistically influence its rate of development?

Literature on the subject clearly indicates that economic growth is the product of many interrelated deep and shallow determinants. According to Rodrik, (2003) deep determinants include: geographical determinants of development that are beyond our influence and those which we can partially control: institutional arrangements and the openness of the economy. The economic policy of a country may, to a much greater extent, but in a highly imperfect way, affect shallow determinants of growth associated with the rate of accumulation of productive resources (physical capital, human capital, etc.), as well as affecting the country's technological development. In this context, what should be the optimal strategy for the development of Poland?

Over 20 years ago the countries of Central and Eastern Europe embarked on a path of transformation from an extremely inefficient centrally planned economy to a functioning market economy. The transformation proved an undoubted success, however, not devoid of numerous ills. Was the choice of the model for the Polish transformation optimal? What conclusions can be drawn from the Polish model of transformation? Is the transformation actually over? This seems to be the wrong question. Due to the dynamic nature of the economic processes, transformation is their permanent feature. Transformation never ends.

The contemporary model of Poland's development is largely based on simply making up for developmental arrears - we use the easily attainable bonus of "catching up with the development of others". We improve our development base for example by making up for infastructure shortfalls or by building solid and healthy institutions. Over time, this model will become less and less effective. The improvement of the efficiency of individual markets and the transition to an innovative development paradigm will be the keys to further development. Over time, competition on the edge of technological limits of the world, rather than limiting ourselves to absorbing technological solutions, will also come into play.

Membership in the European Union has undoubtedly given us a great opportunity to make up for historical arrears. Up to us is the extent to which we will use this chance. Furthermore, for the very first time we have a real opportunity to shape the objectives of the European Union itself and its vision of development. What kind of EU do we want? Implementation of the Lisbon Strategy was largely a failure, displaying, in their entirety, the internal weaknesses of the Union. What opportunities and threats does the new strategy - Europe 2020 bring for Poland? In this context, is the EU, equipped with provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, really destined for success?