Business
20:32 5 September 2018
Post by: WBJ

We still don’t trust each other

The biggest barrier to innovation is not insufficient financing; administrative constraints are partly responsible,but they’re just part of a larger picture

A typical day in a credit informationagency: we’re preparing areport on a specific company.We usually start looking atthe source, which gives us (atleast a presumed) certaintythat the data has been verifiedand is true. That is where we hit a wall.One of the toughest challenges is gettingeven the most basic financial data. Formany companies, sharing these figures isa statutory requirement, but that doesn’tseem to have convinced them. Over halfof all enterprises (including some reallybig ones) that should be publishing thisinformation fail to do so. They don’tseem to understand that transparency isa major advantage in business. If a creditinformation agency cannot obtain thosevery basic figures, it already shows thatcompany in negative light and may evencause suspicion that something untowardis going on in the company. Despitenumerous information campaigns, weare still plagued by the conviction from abygone era that all financial informationshould be kept in a “top secret” file. Thereason for that is trust, or the lack thereof.This is also the reason why Poland hasbeen so far behind other economies ininnovativeness rankings. Our country’sunsatisfactory scores are often explainedby low R&D expenditure, intellectualunderachievement and – probably mostcommonly – by insufficient tax incentives.All of these factors weigh in on Poland’sinnovation but are not the whole truth.Financing is far from scarce, at least as longas the European Union is eager to provideit. Banks offer highly preferential loans fortechnology development. The number ofyoung, talented graduates leaving universitiesincreases each year. It is true that taxadministration is far from friendly towardsentrepreneurs, but some industries seemto have it figured out (IT and pharmacome to mind). The financial sector is alsocapable of implementing highly innovativetechnological solutions, some of whichare still at the testing stage in many betterdeveloped economies. A growing numberof companies are also undertaking sociallyresponsible initiatives, seeing them asmore than just good PR.Unfortunately, the majority of businessesare still very distrustful, akin to fortifiedstrongholds surrounded by enemyterritory. Meanwhile, innovation comesfrom cooperation (sometimes even acrossdifferent industries) and that requires atleast some level of trust. If we are to trustsomeone, we need to lower our defenses,at least to some extent; something a typicalPolish businessperson seems incapableof. We are dealing here with a mentalityissue, not a financial one. All monetarymatters can be dealt with one way or theother, but no amount of money can buya new mindset. All we can do is hope thateducating the business environment andPolish entrepreneurs will at some pointbear fruit.


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