The failure of effective technological transfer in Polish industry


David M. Kemme


Central planners in Poland have continuously emphasized the importance of increasing factor productivity as a major goal of Polish development policy and have included this goal as an integral part of every economic reform proposal of the last two decades. In the decade of the 1970s a new development strategy was initiated which counted heavily on the import of more technologically advanced machinery and equipment and the purchase of licenses and production processes from the West. This paper documents the tremendous increase in Western imports and the purchase of licenses which took place in the 1970s, and which would then be expected to generate an increase in joint factor productivity due to technological change. Empirical analysis, however, indicates that there was no effective transfer of the technology. Joint factor productivity for total industry calculated as a residual in estimated production functions, which include imported inputs, has a zero rate of growth from 1970 to 1978 (using quarterly data). Disaggregating and using annual data over a longer sample period yields estimates of the rate of growth of joint factor productivity which increase slightly for total industry in the 1973-1977 period. For the electrical and mechanical branch which received large numbers of license and joint production agreements the rate of growth of joint factor productivity remained unchanged. The results indicate that systemic factors such as central planning, managerial inhibitions and supply bottlenecks out-weighed any potential increase in factor productivity as a result of technology transfer. © 1987 The Centre for Russian and East European Studies.

Publication Title

Economics of Planning