Abstract: Bipolarism and Globalization: The Škoda Standpoint

Valentina Fava

Abstract

The paper examines the "globalization issue" from the standpoint of Škoda Auto. After its success and growth in the interwar period, the company experienced difficulties that led to a slow decline. The issues addressed in this paper are the isolation forced upon Škoda during the Cold War and its implications for the further development of auto making in Czechoslovakia. It seemed relevant to view the Škoda experience in comparison to that of the European industry in general, underscoring the fact that the breaking off of relations with the West coincided with the period of greatest development in the automotive sector. In the 1950s, while the international automobile industry strove to expand, Škoda had to struggle for survival. The paper points out how a system based on reduced consumption and military priorities led to a marginalization of automobile production. In addition, the severing of commercial and technological relations with the West seemed not balanced by any kind of intrasystemic integration that could compete with what the West was going through during the same period. Finally, the paper shows how "sovietization" led to a worsening of the central problem facing Czechoslovak industry in the 1900s: the search for a national industrial model. The search for the "Czechoslovak way" would have diminished Soviet influence and loosened the hold of Socialist ideology on the country, becoming an important impetus toward fragmentation.