The Influence of the Ethnic Diversity on the Regional Development as Exemplified by the Silesian Autochthonous Population in Poland
Purpose: The paper aims to show that different characteristics of the Silesian autochthonous population resulting from unique cultural and civilizational roots and different values have a positive impact on the regional socio-economic development. Design/Methodology/Approach: The innovative approach establishes the relationship between the presence and activity of the Silesian autochthonous population and regional development. The first subject of analysis concerned the comparison of migration behavior of two different ethnic groups residing in Silesia, namely the autochthonous Silesian population and the Polish population of immigrant origin, using mainly the micro census method. The second research study was a comparative socio-economic analysis of areas inhabited by the Silesian population and typologically similar areas inhabited by the Polish people of immigrant origin. Finally, the third research area concerned a survey among representatives of local authorities, who assessed the role of Silesians in the process of regional development. Findings: The paper's main finding is that the location of the Silesian autochthonous population in the Opole Province has had a notable positive impact on several economic and demographic features, in addition to a very positive assessment of the population by the local authorities. Furthermore, the Silesian population has been recognized as a significant and positive development potential of the Opole Province. Practical Implications: The results of the analysis might be used in determining a suitable development strategy. They also highlight the need for proper management of ethnic groups in regional development and diversity as economic and social potential. Originality/Value: Research results can contribute to constructing theoretical models regarding ethnic groups and their role in sustainable regional development.