Geopolitical Changes And The State Of The Croatian Economy: Examples Of High-Tech Companies’ Transitions

    • Belgrade 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Nikola Petrovic, Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, Croatia


    It is argued in this paper that the position of the Croatian economy was and is heavily determined by geopolitical factors, contrary to analyses that emphasize cultural, ideological and economic policy factors. Sewell’s emphasis on global contingency and his plea for eventful sociology i.e. on analysis of unpredictable events that are able to change durable structures is followed in this paper. It is argued that historically important events have been changing the structure of the Croatian economy in the last hundred years. Events such as the First World War and the creation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Second World War, Yugoslavia leaving the Soviet bloc in 1948 and finally the violent break-up of Yugoslavia have been changing the position of the Croatian economy among the CEE economies. Especially Croatian trade preferences were influenced by geopolitical changes, thus determining trajectories of Croatian companies. The influence of geopolitical changes is examined through the histories of 22 high-tech companies (official histories, interviews with the management, newspaper articles and archival material). All of these companies had in 1989 an in-house R&D department registered as a scientific institution and they are treated as a potential for Croatian entrance in the emerging knowledge-based economy at that time. However, they underwent a profound change during the break-up of socialist Yugoslavia and subsequent Yugoslav wars. From companies that were conveyors of technological knowledge from the West to Comecon and Third World countries they were mostly bought by Western-based multinational corporations or lost their relevance on world markets. Path-dependency of some of these companies is compared with path-dependency of their sectoral counterparts in CEE countries. It is also presented how the entrance in the European Union is again changing trajectories of Croatian high-tech companies.