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The path to Industry 4.0: The evolution of industry in the national economies of the European Union in 2009-2020



Objective: This study aims to present the economies of EU countries in the context of transformations in the industrial sector to increase the share of branches with higher technological intensity (changes in the industrial turnover structure). The analysis was carried out at different time horizons.

Research Design & Methods: Research has a quantitative character. The vector elimination method was used to analyse the industrial turnover structure from 2009 to 2020 in 17 EU countries, based on EUROSTAT data.

Findings: The research identified the following national economies: 1) with intensive and long-term but not permanent changes in the structure during the study period; 2) stagnated in the industrial turnover structure due to high-tech; 3) with unambiguous transformations in their industrial turnover structures due to high-tech, aimed at the development of medium-high-tech industries. The research identified countries in which industry did not undergo significant transformations or these transformations were relatively slow. The adopted research hypothesis was confirmed.

Implications & Recommendations: The observed structural changes in the industries of the studied countries allowed us to identify ongoing transformations and assess their stability. Currently, transformations in the industrial sector are associated with innovation and the implementation of new technologies. The development of modern industries in the EU countries affects the economic position on the international stage. Therefore, it is reasonable to constantly monitor the changes that take place in the industrial structure of individual countries, which can provide important recommendations to their respective governments. The results of the research indicate the development directions for the industrial sector, which can significantly facilitate the introduction of regulations that support the development of modern industries.

Contribution & Value Added: The novelty of the paper is that it illustrates changes in the industry turnover structure due to the advancement of technology. The rule of Industry 4.0 development was confirmed, although with uneven dynamics in respective European economies. It will be interesting to study this phenomenon in the future given the impact of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine on the studied phenomenon. The applied method proved useful for this type of analysis and was deemed useful in other areas of studies of the turnover structure in other markets, such as nutrition, which will be undertaken by the authors in the future.


Industry 4.0, revolution, EU countries, structural changes, EU development, economic development


Author Biography

Michał Niewiadomski

His main interests include the analytical aspect is the study of economic and social structures of peripheral regions. He is also passionate about other fields of economic science, as well as computer programming and web application development.

Agata Niemczyk

Associate Professor (Prof. UEK) of the Cracow University of Economics (Poland). A member of a body of experts researching Cracow’s meetings industry; a member of the Krakow Tourism Expert Team researching the impact of the tourism and the meetings industry on the economy of Krakow; a member of expert researching Cracow’s tourist industry during COVID-19. A member of Regional Studies Association (RSA).

Zofia Gródek-Szostak

She is the author and co-author of more than 200 publications in the field of innovation management, management of the technology transfer process, commercialisation of innovations, cooperation of the SME sector with business environment institutions, technological cooperation of enterprises, state aid, development of innovative rural entrepreneurship, sustainable development. Member of the Regional Studies Association (RSA) and the Polish Economic Society (PTE).

Jacek Strojny

His scientific interests focus on the application of quantitative methods in economic sciences. These interests can be divided into two streams, i.e. econometric modelling of economic processes and applications of statistical methods for qualitative data describing economic phenomena.


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