On Pomeranian economy of cooperation. Interview with Maciej Grabski, President of the Olivia Business Centre

Advanced technologies turn many traditional sectors of the economy now upside down. Changes also occur in our mentality – we have become more open using many things without necessarily owning them.  As a result, completely new business models are developed, based on dispersed know-how, trust and involvement of the community – e.g. sharing economy. Can it become a development springboard for companies in Pomerania? How could we apply our openness in combination with technological potential for a better life quality? 

The interview with Maciej Grabski, President of the Management Board of the Olivia Business Centre is made by Marcin Wandałowski, Executive Editor of ”Pomorski Przegląd Gospodarczy”.

In many areas of the economy we note nowadays a process of transfer from business models based on centralised institutions to models relying on dispersed know-how, trust and – increasingly frequently – involvement of the community.  Where has the change come from?

It has been brought about by several phenomena but two of them stand out. I will start with cultural changes – young people have become more open to using many things without necessarily owning them. And it was only until recently that the interest in possessing things used to be a priority for many.  This is supplemented with a technological aspect – now we have computers, smartphones, tablets that we use to get access to inexpensive and flexible payment systems and communication systems with others.  We do not have to visit offices of banks to use them – we keep hands on everything.  As a result, we can execute transactions in a simple way.  And additionally – they are relatively secure.  People who sell, rent or buy something – like an apartment or a car – are subject to assessment.  The Joneses assess other Joneses.  User verification has become the basis for the functioning of multiple business operating in the web.

Are we basically untrusting and not willing to cooperate?

Recently a survey has been held in which respondents were asked: “Would you share your home or car with others?”  The results both among Poles and among Americans who are perceived as very open people, show a positive response was given by 2/3 of the respondents.  In those terms, statistically there is no difference between us. I think that as a nation we are open – we like to have fun, share our joys, entertain guests at home. Let’s look at EURO 2012 or the World Youth Days.  We are no different that the Americans or West European communities.

Can this be translated into success of the companies that begin operation in Poland in the sharing economy model?

They have hardly started.  So far, I have not noticed either in Pomerania or in Poland any companies of that kind that have grown so much to become our showcases.  Allegro perhaps is a good example. However, I notice that many niches in our country have been filled in by large international corporations like Uber or Airbnb. Soon our market will be entered also by foreign entities that are involved in lending money among people or even in pizza deliveries by courier or other customers.  Luckily, many types of services take place in local markets – Pomerania, Poland, Central Europe – and that is why we have an opportunity to implement interesting ideas as it is simpler to do things here and now.  For Polish companies – even if they do have interesting ideas – it will be difficult to get through to global levels since often it is a matter of available cash to be used to fight competitors than the aspect of good ideas.


Full tests of the interview in Pomorski Przegląd Gospodarczy. 

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