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A new wave and the ripples it makes: Post-transition firm’s digital maturity and its consequences in global value chains



Objective: The objective of the article is to assess the firms’ digital maturity and examine how the adoption of Industry 4.0 solutions affects global value chain (GVC) relationships.

Research Design & Methods: The study combined a critical literature review with quantitative empirical research. We collected the primary data during computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) among 400 industrial manufacturing firms in Poland.

Findings: The study demonstrates that I4.0 technologies adoption modifies the awareness of partners’ progress in digital transformation, affects integration among partners, and leads to changes in GVCs’ diversification, geographic scope, and governance. Thanks to the study on the digital maturity of firms from a post-transition country, we demonstrated that I4.0 still requires conceptual development and that the emerging theory of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is interdependent with the theory of GVCs.

Implications & Recommendations: We focused on the disruption caused by the advancement of digital transformation in companies that operate in a constellation of relationships and are interdependent in the same GVC. The study recognizes the relationships within the GVC as channels of transmission of challenges, risks, and opportunities that emerge from the disruption. We referred to the case of a post-transition, post-communist country in Central and Eastern Europe under digital transformation, which is highly specific yet offers valuable findings transferable to other economies on the eve of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Contribution & Value Added: The novelty of the study lies in the integration of research on digital technology adoption as diagnosed among manufacturing companies in a post-transition country with the inquiry regarding their participation and role in GVCs. Thanks to this approach, we identified how firms’ digital maturity reshapes their buyer-supplier relations and, thus, their position in value chains.



digital maturity, global value chains, post-transition economy, Poland, Industry 4.0

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Author Biography

Barbara Jankowska

Professor, Head of the Department of International Competitiveness, Poznań University of Economics and Business, Poland. Her research interests include foreign direct investment (FDI), clusters, Industry 4.0, and international competitiveness. She conducted projects funded by the NCN and Horizon Europe Programme.

Marta Götz

PhD, Professor at Vistula University, she has carried out projects funded by the NCN, NAWA and the Visegrad Fund. Her research interests include foreign direct investment (FDI), clusters, Industry 4.0, and international competitiveness.

Ewa Mińska-Struzik

PhD, Professor at the Poznań University of Economics and Business, Head of the Institute of International Business and Economics and the Department of International Economics. Her research interests include international trade (with a particular focus on trade measurement, geographical concentration of trade flows, and the validity of trade theories in a globalized world) and the linkage between the exporting activity of a firm and its innovative potential.

Małgorzata Bartosik-Purgat

Professor, Head of the Department of International Management, Poznań University of Economics and Business, Poland. Her research interests include new technologies in consumer behaviour, cross-cultural communication, and the cultural environment of international business.


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