Summary: The study, "Winning strategies for locally-owned businesses in Central Europe", looks at how locally-owned businesses in the candidate countries are preparing for EU enlargement. It describes the emerging opportunities and challenges facing local firms and assesses what more they can do to succeed in an enlarged Europe, based on interviews with senior executives in leading local firms in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Latvia as well as members of the banking community and policy makers. The key conclusions are that: Many locally-owned firms in the candidate countries of Central Europe need to adopt more forward looking strategies which move beyond cost-minimisation if they are to succeed in an enlarged EU. Many of the strategies of local firms are not yet adequately geared to generating a sustainable source of competitive advantage: they are too focused on cost-reduction. If local firms are to thrive in an enlarged EU, they need to become more flexible, innovative and work more closely with others to add value. Many locally-owned firms in the candidate countries have already taken steps to improve their efficiency, in part as a response to increased competition from foreign companies in both domestic and international markets. Formal accession to the EU in May 2004 is unlikely to generate significant additional export opportunities in the EU market for locally-owned firms.
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