The rapid growth of Central European economies has been related to inward FDI, so these countries are often regarded as dependent market economies. What is interesting in this context is the international expansion of some domestic-owned manufacturing companies from Central Europe. Looking through the lens of global production networks (GPN) and evolutionary resilience perspectives, the paper aims to identify paths and mechanisms of development of new multinational companies, namely Polish automotive firms expanding from around 2010 onwards in the global markets through acquisitions and greenfield investments in Western Europe, North America, and Asia. The authors ponder on the underlying motives and barriers of this process, the capabilities, and features of Polish-owned companies. In order to do it, both qualitative (13 interviews with representatives of new multinationals and the other stakeholders preceded by content analysis of various documents, including company annual reports in particular) and quantitative (analysis of international trade, revenues, employment, locational data) insights are used for the period covering the time span between 1999 and 2020. As the result, the international expansion of domestic-owned firms is interpreted as a specific critical conjuncture of three mechanisms: (1) development of Central-Eastern European economies since the end of communism, (2) the evolution of the Western European core, and (3) the trajectory of individual Polish firms. We argue development trajectories of the firms going global cannot be understood without taking into account the dynamic interdependence between firm-specific capabilities (including the position within GPNs) and the changing characteristics of the countries (e.g., evolving regional assets).
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