JIRI BLAZEK

THE VARIEGATED ROLE OF PROXIMITIES IN ACQUISITIONS BY DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES IN DIFFERENT PHASES OF ECONOMIC CYCLES

V Kveton, A Belohradsky, J Blazek (2020)
Papers in Regional Science

This paper aims at an understanding of acquisition processes in a strongly industrialized and export‐oriented economy in Central Europe. Drawing on a proximity framework and behaviour theory, the paper investigates that the geographical proximity dimension is more influential than the cognitive proximity dimension. At the same time, cognitive proximity matters more for foreign firms investing into the economy than for domestic acquisitions. While the role of cognitive proximity diminished during the economic crisis, geographical proximity keeps its importance throughout the economic cycle. Moreover, cognitive proximity has become more important for acquisitions of large companies and less for SMEs.

THE DARK SIDE OF REGIONAL INDUSTRIAL PATH DEVELOPMENT: TOWARDS A TYPOLOGY OF TRAJECTORIES OF DECLINE

J Blazek, V Kveton, S Baumgartinger-Seiringer, M Trippl (2020)
European Planning Studies, 1-19

Over the past few years, scholarly debates on new path development have attracted increasing attention within the economic geography literature. This work distinguishes various trajectories of regional and industrial evolution. So far, these evolutionary trajectories have been mainly conceptualized as ‘positive’ forms of path development. However, in reality, many regions are undergoing phases that can be characterized as ‘negative’ trajectories. Despite their potentially detrimental social and political effects, negative pathways have to date largely been ignored in the extant literature. This paper seeks to shed light on the ‘dark side’ of path development by outlining a typology of ‘pathways of decline’. Three forms of negative pathways are identified, namely path contraction, path downgrading and path delocalization. Empirical illustrations are provided for each of them.

P Netrdova, J Blazek (2019)
Journal of Maps 15 (1), 69-76

This study presents an analysis and visualisation of the evolutionary dynamics of unemployment at the municipal level in Czechia during the global economic crisis. The analysis is based on a monthly time series of unemployment data at a detailed territorial level. Namely, there are 6,258 municipalities in Czechia, which makes it particularly suitable for a detailed investigation of the unfolding and evolution of the recent crisis. Our focus is on analysing and mapping the spatiotemporal patterns of unemployment using variability and autocorrelation measures. Given the detailed territorial level of our analysis, large-scale maps will be presented to assist with interpretation and analytical conclusions. The Main Map (1:600 000) shows the categories of municipalities according to the rate of unemployment and its evolutionary dynamics. Three additional maps (1:1 400 000) visualise the results of spatiotemporal analyses.

TRANSFER OF JAPANESE-STYLE MANAGEMENT TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC: THE CASE OF JAPANESE MANUFACTURING FIRMS

K Natsuda, J Sykora, J Blazek (2019)
Asia Europe Journal, 1-23

This study examines the level of application of Japanese-style management to the Czech Republic from the perspective of hybridization, by employing a survey of Japanese manufacturing firms based in this country. The survey reveals that the Japanese system of production control is strictly enforced, while work organization, labour relations and group consciousness have been—despite targeted practices used by Japanese companies to facilitate application of the Japanese system—largely adapted to the local conditions. Furthermore, this study identifies the transitional process from relying upon Japanese expatriates towards engaging local human resources in the parent-subsidiary relationship. In addition, even though the Japanese-style procurement method is applied with a large number of local suppliers, the local content ratio nevertheless remains relatively low in the Czech Republic. Overall, Japanese manufacturing firms, via their vigorous effort to transfer their distinctive management style, are challenging European business practices and Czech socio-cultural traditions, even though the level of hybridization is strongly variegated according to particular management spheres.

INNOVATION-BASED REGIONAL CHANGE IN EUROPE: CHANCES, RISKS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS: SOUTH MORAVIA: FROM A QUICK FIX BY FOREIGN INVESTMENTS TOWARDS A BOTTOM-UP POLICY LEARNING?

J Blazek, D Uhlir, V Kveton, D Marek (2019), eds. K Koschatzky, T Stahlecker

A central assumption in current debates on the geography of innovation is that a firm's location affects its ability to innovate (Isaksen and Karlsen 2016). Conceptualised as geographical proximity, it is argued that co-location of firms and actors such as universities and intermediaries effectively supports the emergence of innovation, especially in larger agglomerations. This assumption rests on two theoretical building blocks: localisation and urbanisation economies. The idea of localisation economies goes back to Marshall (1927) who suggested that a regional specialisation of economic activities provides pecuniary and non-pecuniary benefits to firms from related industries, for instance through eased exchange of knowledge and common use of regional resources such as a specialised labour market. Discussed in terms of urbanisation economies (Jacobs 1969), the diversity of economic activities and actors and the associated potential of cross-fertilisation provide further positive externalities. Diverse economic structures bring together heterogeneous actors and facilitate a fruitful exchange of resources.

KNOWLEDGE BASES, R&D STRUCTURE AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND INNOVATION PERFORMANCE OF EUROPEAN REGIONS

J Blazek, V Kadlec (2018)
Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research 32 (1), 26-47

Due to numerous idiosyncratic features, a profound variety in the level of development and in the nature of regional innovation systems is often acknowledged. This paper has aimed to contribute to existing research by unraveling mutual relationships among knowledge bases, R&D structure and innovation performance of European regions. Our analysis showed that the differences among the European regions in their prevailing knowledge base and in the absolute and relative sizes of key segments of R&D systems are systematic and mutually interwoven. Generally, advanced regions are often typified by the lowest share of synthetic knowledge base and either by a dominance of the private R&D or by a relatively balanced structure between private and public R&D, while the opposite holds for lagging regions.

ENTRANCE-EXIT DYNAMICS OF SUPPLIERS AND THE REPERCUSSIONS FOR RESHAPING THE STRUCTURE OF GVCS/GPNS

J Blazek, K Natsuda, J Sykora (2018)
European Planning Studies 26 (12), 2364-2386

The analysis of entrance and exit dynamics of suppliers into and from GVCs/GPNs has remained on a sideline, despite emerging evidence of the substantial dynamics of suppliers exiting value chains, induced for example by a paradigm of streamlining the supply base. Thus, this article aims to contribute to research on global production via the identification of the key firm-level causal drivers guiding the entrance-exit dynamics of companies within GVCs/GPNs leading to substantial but variegated evolutionary dynamics reshaping the structure of particular chains or networks, resulting in profound impacts upon the companies, localities and regions concerned.

PATH-DEVELOPMENT TRAJECTORIES AND BARRIERS PERCEIVED BY STAKEHOLDERS IN TWO CENTRAL EUROPEAN LESS DEVELOPED REGIONS: NARROW OR BROAD CHOICE?

V Kveton, J Blazek (2018)
European Planning Studies 26 (10), 2058-2077

This paper aims at the comprehension of feasible development trajectories conceptualized within the new path-development model in the case of two less developed regions in Central Europe (CE). The main new element of this paper comprises the examination of the perception of key barriers and mechanisms hindering particular evolutionary trajectories by regional stakeholders and their comparison with those conceptualized in the literature. Although conceptual characteristics of prevailing path types in different regional innovation systems do exist, empirical verification from less developed regions such as those in CE is insufficient. On the basis of interviews with regional stakeholders, a typology of barriers for pathways conceptualized to date was elaborated from a CE perspective. Our study showed that the feasibility of a more radical path is hindered by a wide range of barriers operating at different levels. The elaborated typology of barriers for various path-development trajectories outlined the main hindrances constraining key regional actors, linkages and institutions. Given the general weakness of the overall RIS, path-extension and path-modernization trajectories are bound to be the most realistic options for this type of less developed regions. Our study revealed existing regional dynamics as built predominately upon incremental changes within rooted but prospective industrial branches.

THE IMPACTS OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS AND ITS AFTERMATH ON THE BANKING CENTRES OF EUROPE

J Blazek, T Hejnova, H Rada (2018)
European Urban and Regional Studies

This paper aims to unravel the impacts of the global economic crisis upon European banking centres on the basis of the evolution of key economic indicators, such as total assets, profitability and the level of risk to the banking sector over the 2004–2015 period. Counterintuitively, the European leading banking centres (London, Paris and Frankfurt), despite their extensive exposure to capital markets, displayed a high level of resilience, which contrasts with the evolution of the other major Western European centres, which clearly lagged behind the European leaders. From a macro-regional perspective, banking centres in Western Europe exhibited the first signals of both the crisis and the recovery, which were subsequently diffused across Europe. Surprisingly, the profitability of low-ranking banking centres in Central and Eastern Europe remained the highest over the whole 2004–2015 period, as these banks operate predominantly within a regional (national) market. Overall, during the 2004–2015 period, London, Paris and Frankfurt clearly strengthened their dominance among European banking centres.

SMART SPECIALISATION IN REGIONS WITH LESS-DEVELOPED RESEARCH AND INNOVATION SYSTEMS: A CHANGING ROLE FOR UNIVERSITIES?

P Vallance, J Blazek, J Edwards, V Kveton (2018)
Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space 36 (2), 219-238

Universities and other knowledge institutions have quickly come to be seen as central to smart specialisation. However, their exact role in Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation has yet to receive much critical attention in the academic literature. This is particularly notable as defining features of smart specialisation – such as the entrepreneurial dynamic of the strategy-formation process, and differentiated nature of the goals for strategies in regions with varying research and innovation capabilities – represent challenges to the notion that public research organisations should be drivers of smart specialisation in all regions. This paper articulates these conceptual tensions and then explores how they are unfolding in practice with particular reference to regions with less-developed research and innovation systems. The empirical material is drawn from a European-wide survey of institutional factors affecting the implementation of Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation and two regional case studies from Central and Eastern Europe. Overall the paper reveals a multifaceted picture of still emerging (and potentially conflicting) dynamics around the introduction of smart specialisation that have the potential to reconfigure the role of universities in regional innovation systems in Europe.

CLUSTERS, INDUSTRIAL DISTRICTS AND THE IMPACT OF THEIR GROWING INTERSECTION WITH GLOBAL VALUE CHAINS

MD Parrilli, J Blazek (2017)
Local Clusters in Global Value Chains, 65-82, Routledge

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TOWARDS A TYPOLOGY OF REPOSITIONING STRATEGIES OF GVC/GPN SUPPLIERS: THE CASE OF FUNCTIONAL UPGRADING AND DOWNGRADING

J Blazek (2016)
Journal of Economic Geography 16 (4), 849-869

This article examines various upgrading and downgrading repositioning firm strategies within global value chains (GVCs) or global production networks (GPNs). It builds upon recent evidence that the mode of governance could vary profoundly among firms engaged in the same GVC/GPN. Therefore, the relevance of particular types of upgrading that were originally derived from the ideal types of GVC/GPN governance will be reconsidered. It is argued that the existing dissonance in the literature over possibilities for functional upgrading can be attributed to the different modes of governance that can exist within a particular GVC/GPN and to the diverse nature of functional upgrading. Consequently, a typology of functional upgrading is outlined, and it is argued that these different types vary significantly according to their probability and potential risk-benefit ratios. The article also introduces passive, adaptive and strategic downgrading and outlines their potential negative and positive effects on firms.

CAN EMERGING REGIONAL INNOVATION STRATEGIES IN LESS DEVELOPED EUROPEAN REGIONS BRIDGE THE MAIN GAPS IN THE INNOVATION PROCESS?

J Blazek, P Csank (2016)
Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 34 (6), 1095-1114

This article considers key barriers to the process of innovation, as identified in a survey of firms and research institutions in the Czech region of South Moravia, which has been trying for more than a decade to spur innovation via successive regional innovation strategies. The article makes particular reference to the nature of newly emerging regional innovation systems in postcommunist countries and contributes to debates concerning the significance of localized processes of knowledge creation and dissemination for the competitiveness of a region. The article is based upon 188 in-depth interviews with representatives of firms and 90 interviews with leaders of prominent research teams in the region. The in-depth interviews allowed the identification of a wide array of barriers to the innovation process, which proved to be systematically related to the level of a firm’s entrepreneurial ambition. The level of ambition of firm’s strategy also translates into differing extent, to which analytical knowledge is being employed. The analysis identifies factors that are not yet adequately reflected in national or regional innovation policies and strategies, and several associated policy recommendations are set out in the concluding section of the paper.

THE VARIETY OF RELATED VARIETY STUDIES: OPENING THE BLACK BOX OF TECHNOLOGICAL RELATEDNESS VIA ANALYSIS OF INTER-FIRM R&D COOPERATIVE PROJECTS

J Blazek, D Marek, V Kveton (2016)
Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography 1301

The aim of this article is twofold. First, on the basis of a review of recent literature on related variety, it shows that there are not only differences between ex-ante and ex-post conceptualisations of relatedness, but also several striking methodological differences within this research stream. Therefore, it is argued, the growing number of studies on relatedness using different conceptualisations and methodologies can result in a “hollowing-out” of the original explanatory power of the concept. Second, this paper aims to open the black box of relatedness among industries by exploring one of the main channels through which the effects of relatedness can operate by simultaneous application of both ex-ante and ex-post approaches to measuring relatedness. In particular, joint R&D projects among companies represent a vigorous mechanism of knowledge exchange and mutual learning, but, as of yet, these studies have not been systematically linked to the concept of related variety. Our results prove that R&D collaboration according to technological distance is indeed far from random, but, contrary to our expectation, the results show that R&D collaboration occurs most frequently among unrelated companies. Thus, the search for partners in R&D projects seems to be driven by the novelty of knowledge rather than by probabilities of its comprehension. Conceptually, these findings suggest that in reality there might be various processes that require vastly different level of relatedness. This could lead to important policy implications as overreliance upon support for related industries might be misleading.

THE CHALLENGE OF BREAKING THE ACADEMIA–BUSINESS FIREWALL IN CZECHIA: COMPARING THE ROLE OF DIFFERENTIATED KNOWLEDGE BASES IN COLLABORATIVE R&D PROJECTS

D Marek, J Blazek (2016)
European Planning Studies 24 (4), 809-831

Contemporary innovation processes increasingly involve a large number of networked actors, and cross-fertilization between knowledge institutions and firms has thus become a significant driver for innovation. Important insights into the differing nature of research and development (R&D) collaboration in particular sectors have been provided by research inspired by the knowledge-base approach embedded within innovation system (IS) theory. This study aims to contribute to this body of literature by applying the concept of differentiated knowledge bases to the former state-socialist countries, where the IS operates through a firewall between academia and industry. Data on collaborative R&D projects co-financed by public resources have allowed a detailed analysis of the nature of collaboration networks, revealing emerging patterns of academia–industry linkages and questioning the propositions stemming from the knowledge-based approach. The study concludes that collaborative science–industry networks show a very distinct topography when analytical and synthetic knowledge is compared.

THE ANATOMY OF DIFFERENCE: COMPREHENDING THE EVOLUTIONARY DYNAMICS OF ECONOMIC AND SPATIAL STRUCTURE IN THE AUSTRIAN AND CZECH ECONOMIES

J Novotny, J Blazek, V Kveton (2016)
European Planning Studies 24 (4), 788-808

The research on the economic convergence of Central and Eastern European countries towards the old EU members is voluminous, and it has an obvious appeal to both policy-makers and public. Unlike the traditional literature concerned with selected macro-patterns of the European convergence process, this paper presents a comparative study of two economies, attempting to comprehend more nuanced aspects and underlying mechanisms shaping their evolution. It examines the evolutionary dynamics of the structure and spatial organization of the Czech and Austrian economies since the late 1980s. Therefore, as a basis for subsequent analysis, the conceptual part attempts to systematize the key specific factors of the former command economies. The empirical results show that, despite significant similarities in the structure of these economies, the absolute and relative productivity as well as the spatial relatedness of the main types of industries reveal important differences between these two countries. These distinctions tend to be disregarded when making inferences about the European convergence process on the basis of traditional literature concerned predominantly with macro-patterns. Consequently, this study shows that since the collapse of socialism, Czechia has been reintegrated into the global economy in a different way from Austria, implying different evolutionary trajectories in the future.

THE TAKEOVER OF PRAGUE'S BANKING CLUSTER BY MULTINATIONAL GROUPS FROM AN EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE

J Blazek, I Becicova (2016)
Geografie 121, 254–278.

This article identifies the main drivers in the evolution of the banking cluster in Prague over the last two centuries. Conceptually, it employs the adaptive-cycle model of cluster evolution, which acknowledges the role of external factors in cluster evolution. An empirical analysis shows that the evolution of the banking cluster in Prague has been primarily driven by several episodes of major external disruptions. A particular attention is paid to the latest phase of cluster evolution, which started around the beginning of the 21st century when Prague’s banks were taken over by foreign multinational groups. We argue that, despite the numerous costs and risks associated with this “subsidiarisation” of the banking cluster in Prague, there were benefits, some of which were surprisingly manifested during the 2008–2009 global economic crisis.

IS THERE A CREDIT-GAP IN A PERIPHERY? THE PERCEPTION OF THIS PROBLEM BY SMALL ENTREPRENEURS

I Becicova, J Blazek (2015)
Journal of rural studies 42, 11-20

The article seeks to contribute to the relatively neglected, yet recently expanding, body of financial geography literature. It examines the propositions of the theory of regional segmentation of financial markets, which – within a centralized financial system – foresees credit rationing for small businesses located in peripheral regions. The research methodology is based upon a case-study approach employed in the most peripheral municipalities in Moravia-Silesia region in Czechia. The contribution of this research lies in its focus upon the detailed investigation of the experience with credit applications of small entrepreneurs running a business in a periphery. The results show that the interviewed entrepreneurs do not perceive discrimination by the banks due to their peripheral location, but rather they face the problem that the value of their premises, when setting them as collateral, is significantly underestimated.

UNIVERSITY-BUSINESS COLLABORATION AS PERCEIVED BY LEADING ACADEMICS: COMPARING AND CONTRASTING THE TWO MOST INNOVATIVE CZECH REGIONS

V Kadlec, J Blazek (2015)
Erdkunde, 327-339

 This article compares the nature of academia-business collaboration in the two most innovative Czech regions, where the respective regional decision-makers and universities’ representatives differ sharply in their approaches towards the commercialization of academic knowledge. An analysis of the nature of collaboration between life-science researchers in two leading Czech universities and private companies has been performed to identify whether targeted support provided at the regional and university levels can make a real difference and can overcome hindrances from the national level. In particular, the article investigates the motivation and approaches of leaders of life-science research teams to cooperation with private companies, the perceived barriers impeding such cooperation, including the strength of demand for innovation in both analyzed regions. The research identified significant differences in the perception of barriers between life scientists in Prague and South Moravia, vindicating the positive role of the South Moravian innovation strategy. Thus, researchers in South Moravia no longer face barriers preventing the emergence of cooperation with the business sector, and instead they are concerned about obstacles that stand in the way of its more intensive development. 

MORAVIAN-SILESIAN REGION (SUBREGION NUTS 3) AS AN EXAMPLE OF A SUCCESSFUL TRANSFORMATION–CASE STUDY REPORT

J Blazek, I Becicová (2014)
GRINCOH Working Paper Series, Paper

The Moravian-Silesian region had to deal with many challenges in the past, mainly restructuring, deindustrialization and resulting high unemployment rate. Its pathway to prosperity was rather thorny, nevertheless, the performance of the region improved significantly until the crisis hit the regional economy in the second half of 2008. The developmental trajectory switched from growth to stagnation or even decline. However the complicated situation taught regional actors to cooperate to achieve a common goal. Their effort and relatively well developed social capital might become one of the most important sources for improvement of the overall socioeconomic situation in the region.

REGIONS WITH LESS DEVELOPED RESEARCH AND INNOVATION SYSTEMS

Jiri Blazek, Adrian Healey, Michaela Trippl, Björn Asheim, Johan Miörner, Mari José Aranguren, Edurne Magro, Mikel Navarro, James Wilson (2014)
Cardiff University

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