The paper offers a comprehensive analysis of direct investments made by Polish companies abroad. Such investments have intensified in recent years, especially since Poland joined the European Union on May 1, 2004. Foreign expansion is an important part of the development strategies of many Polish companies today. The empirical research described in the paper identifies the factors that determine direct investment by Polish companies abroad, with a special focus on barriers to such projects. The studies in question were carried out at the Foreign Trade Research Institute (IKiCHZ) in 2006 and involved two groups of businesses: those that have already invested abroad in recent years, and those that may carry out such projects in the future. The latter group comprises potential investors who stand out in the corporate sector because of their market position, financial condition and the fact that exports account for a large part of their sales. The analysis involved the following aspects of direct investment abroad: an evaluation of the financial condition of investors and their prospects for the coming years; the possible determinants and barriers to investment on foreign markets; investment plans; the financial, organizational and legal conditions involved; feasibility studies; and the expected benefits and forms of public assistance to Polish companies investing abroad. The empirical studies discussed by the authors reveal that Polish entrepreneurs are interested in direct investment abroad and see it as an opportunity for the further development of their companies. The research shows that Polish investors on foreign markets primarily include large companies that export their products and are doing well financially. Poland's EU accession has had a positive influence on Polish companies' direct investment abroad. Still, the authors conclude that direct investment by Polish companies on foreign markets is still in its infancy. This is confirmed by the scope and forms of these projects as well as by the considerable caution displayed by the analyzed businesses in undertaking such operations.
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