Central and Eastern Europe’s Role in Europe and beyond:
Where is the region heading?


Congress Theme

We founded the Grow East Congress series in 2007 with the mission to bring business practitioners, students and researchers together to discuss topics that move markets and economies in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The Congress series began at the peak of the boom in CEE in 2007, addressed the transformations and pains during the Great Recession and in the aftermath of the crisis, and adopted a more optimistic outlook in the last years. We want to celebrate our 10th anniversary with a debate on CEE’s role today in Europe and the world and how well prepared the countries are to deal with challenges on the way to further prosperity. The CEE economies and industries have undergone a massive modernization in the last 30 years and the companies have improved their competitiveness. Foreign firms often have acted as change agents in this economic transition. As a result, Central European societies have become wealthier and more self-confident. Now these countries are looking for more independence, politically and economically. Their politicians voice distinct views on the future of the European Union and question the liberal model of democracy and market economy. 

Against this backdrop, the CEE countries have to find ways how to move their economies from a low-cost to an innovation-driven economic model, beyond the “middle-income trap”. How can they move their economies to a higher income level? Either they convince foreign investors to locate higher value-added activities in their countries or they have to build up their own international value chains. Successful examples for both options can be found in all countries. Digitalization might be an enabler in this process if the countries regard it as a chance. As it encompasses such different areas as the optimization of industrial processes (“Industry 4.0”), the rise of e-commerce and the communication with and engagement of customers the outcome of this transformation is still unclear. How well prepared are the countries and companies for this change? 

A cornerstone in the future development is human capital. While praised for the good formal education, demographic decline, brain drain, skills mismatch and labour shortage in general are limiting the pool of qualified labour in Central Europe needed for driving the economic upgrading process. What programs and projects exist that address the development of human capital? How do companies deal with the ongoing war for talents? The Congress will bring to the fore executives, entrepreneurs and academics who tackle these challenges and present pathways to advance these economies.


Congress Organizers

The GROW EAST CONGRESS is a project initiated and organized by Prof. Arnold Schuh, Director of the Competence Center for Emerging Markets & CEE at WU Vienna, and Dr. Manfred Berger, NEUSICHT Think Tank. The Aussenwirtschaft Austria, the international arm of the WKO (Austrian Federal Economic Chamber), is our congress partner. 


About the Congress

The main goal of this congress series that started in 2007 is to provide insights into the current developments in the emerging Europe and highlight the challenges that international and local firms face when expanding into and competing in CEE markets. In this way, we help profiling Vienna and Austria as a “knowledge-hub” in CEE business in the geographic center of this region. GROW EAST offers a platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences between representatives of firms operating in CEE, academics and business students interested in the markets and economies of this region.


Target Groups

Owners, executives, marketing and sales executives, export and country managers of national and international companies as well as consultants with focus on Central, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, academics and business students with interest in CEE management and business. This time we plan to invite in addition to the 50 WU students with a high interest in CEE, business students from WU partner universities such as University of Economics in Bratislava and Corvinus University in Budapest. We expect about 150-200 participants in total.


Congress Fees:

Regular Fee: EUR 300,- (plus VAT)
WKO-Members: EUR 150,- (plus VAT)
Students: EUR 25,- (plus VAT)

Time: 27th March 2019, 9:00 – 16:30
Place: Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) / Hall 6 / 
Wiedner Haupstraße 63
A - 1040 Vienna
Auditorium: R. Sallinger Saal



Dr. Manfred Berger
Fischerstiege 10/15
1010 Vienna, Austria
+43-1-513 37 98-13

Prof. Dr. Arnold Schuh
Director, Competence Center for Emerging Markets & CEE, WU Vienna
Welthandelsplatz 1 – Building D1
1020 Vienna, Austria
+43 1 31336 4608


Congress Website: http://www.groweast.eu
Competence Center for Emerging Markets & CEE: https://www.wu.ac.at/emcee/
WKO: https://www.wko.at

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