Doing Business in Poland: A Sub-national Comparison of 18 Cities

June 25, 2015


An inside view of the SPX Flow Technology Poland at the Bydgoszcz Industrial and Technological Park.

Photo: Dorota Kowalska

  • The Doing Business in Poland 2015 report goes beyond the capital, Warsaw, for the first time and looks at the ease of doing business in 18 cities across all 16 Voivodeships (provinces) in the country.
  • The report assessed business regulations relevant to four stages from the life of a small and medium-size domestic firm: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, and enforcing contracts. Bydgoszcz, located in the northern Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, topped the aggregate ranking.
  • Findings from the report can help policymakers identify and learn from best practices around the country – leading to further improvements in doing business at the sub-national and national levels.

Bydgoszcz, located at the intersection of a few major transit routes in north-central Poland, is the country's eighth largest city and one of the fastest developing centers of business. In recent years, Bydgoszcz has been trying to establish itself as a modern and functional urban center with a business friendly environment for investors – local and foreign alike.

Those efforts seem to have paid off.

According to the new Doing Business in Poland 2015 report, Bydgoszcz ranked number one in terms of ease of doing business out of the 18 cities benchmarked in this new report. Commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development and Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK), this is the first study of its kind to be carried out in Poland

The report finds that no city outperforms the others in all areas benchmarked: it is easier to start a business in Poznań, obtain construction permits in Bydgoszcz, transfer property in Białystok, and resolve a commercial dispute in Olsztyn. Overall, good local practices exist across many of the cities measured that can be replicated throughout the country to improve the business climate for local entrepreneurs and firms.

While smaller cities such as Bydgoszcz and Olsztyn – a city that ranked second on the list – tend to do better overall across the four indicators, several large cities rank at or near the top of individual indicators. Poznan – a city of more than half a million people – ranked first for starting a business. Wroclaw – the fourth largest city in the country – ranked fourth in terms of construction permits. Similarly, despite having one of the highest number of incoming cases per judge in Poland, trial time is less than a year—one week faster than the 18-city average—at the regional court of Krakow, where judges follow best national practices and use active case management to handle the flow of incoming cases.

“Having a report that looks at the doing business landscape across Poland is extremely useful,” notes Mamta Murthi, World Bank Group Regional Director for Central Europe and the Baltic Countries.

“While we see that in general it seem to be easier to do business in a smaller city, we also see examples of large cities doing some things extremely well – proving that high demand for business services can actually be dealt with in an efficient and effective manner.”

Regulatory hurdles differ from town to town and a Polish entrepreneur will likely face a very different set of challenges in Warsaw than in Wroclaw. This is due to varying efficiency levels at the public agencies in charge of the four areas benchmarked and discrepancies in the interpretation of national legislation.

Unlike the global Doing Business reports, which compare Warsaw with the rest of the world, this sub-national report offers detailed analysis across different cities from all around the country – covering all 16 Voivodeship. This coverage can help facilitate the exchange of best practices across cities, enabling, for example, Zielona Gora – a town of less than 150,000 people – to learn from similar sized cities, as well as from the capital and other larger places on the list.  

These exchanges can help cities improve in different areas of doing business - while simultaneously helping the country as a whole rise in the ranks of Doing Business. An ongoing reform agenda in the country has helped Poland rapidly ascend the ease of doing business list in recent years – going from 72 in 2010 to 32 in 2015.

The sub-national level analysis provided in this report can further this agenda by enabling additional improvements to business regulation across the country. According to the report, if a Polish city were to adopt all the best practices found across all 18 cities it would rank 24th out of 189 economies – placing it ahead of regional leaders such as France and the Netherlands.

By expanding the focus to include information at the sub-national level, the Doing Business in Poland 2015 report is facilitating improvement at both the regional and national levels – offering new information and improved tools for policymakers as they strive to make Poland a more business-friendly country for local entrepreneurs.


In the media:

"Doing Business Bydgoszcz i Olsztyn na czele" (Rzeczpospolita, in Polish)