Department of Sociology 405A Brewster, East Carolina University, MS 567, Greenville, NC 27858, USA
Since the fall of State Socialism in 1989, the world’s largest automakers have established 13 light vehicle assembly plants in the Central European nations of Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. Although it missed much of the 1990s boom, the central location of Slovakia’s city-regions, along with their skilled, but relatively inexpensive labor force, have resulted in that nation becoming a prime production base for the export of automobiles to developed Europe during the 2010s, as well as to North America.
Drawing upon World Systems Theory and research on the CE auto industry, this article examines Automotive Industry related foreign direct investment (i.e., Auto FDI) in Slovakia’s Bratislava, Trencin, Trnava, and Zilina City-Regions (i.e. the Bratislava-Zilina Corridor). It finds that although Auto FDI may have helped boost Slovakia’s Gross Domestic Product and per capita Gross National Income to semi-periphery levels, it also has made the economies of the four city-regions in its Bratislava-Zilina Corridor overly dependent on foreign transnational corporations from the highly cyclical automotive industry. Basing its conclusions upon World System theorist depictions of semi-periphery nations, it then concludes that while Slovakia’s economic levels may qualify as middle income/semi-periphery, the structural role its major city-regions play within the world’s automotive industrial division of labor has not yet achieved this position. Rather, their status now more closely resembles what might be labeled the upper perimeter of the periphery, where core-peripheral-like power relations have remained much more prominent than in many other semi-periphery nations, particularly as compared with the original Asian NIEs and today’s BRICs.
Keywords: Automotive FDI, Automobiles, Original equipment manufacturers, Slovakia’s City-Regions.
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