Small is beautiful

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Austria: Small is beautiful, Attractions for Industry, Influence of the Church, Shot That Started a War, Magnificent Capital City, Vienna, Kitzbuhel, Lower Austria, Linz, Salzburg, Graz

Small is beautiful

Small is beautiful

Industrially, Austria practises the 'Small is beautiful' philosophy of the 20th-century German-born economist Ernst Schumacher. In the whole country, only 77 firms employ more than 1000 people; the average size of a factory workforce is just 20. The farms, too, tend to be small. Despite a spate of farm mergers in recent years, there are still 124 000 farms -most run by a single family.

The formula seems to work. Dairy products, beef and lamb from the hill farms supply the cities and contribute to exports as well. Truckloads of wheat and other crops flow in from the eastern lowlands. Wine, predominantly white, pours from the vineyards, which are mostly in LOWER AUSTRIA (Niederosterreich) and BURGENLAND.

One of the big difficulties for a small country in a world of big businesses is how to compete effectively when you have no really large home market. Austria is, after all, only twice the size of its neighbour, Switzerland. The Austrian solution has been to increase specialisation and the quality of products.

The iron and steel industry, for instance, could hardly compete with the big producers of West Germany, and so the answer of the state-run steel company has been to develop more efficient ways of making steel. As a result, the steel towns of LINZ and Donawitz have given their name to one of the most up-to-date methods of steel-making in the world: the Linz-Donawitz process.

Nearly half of Austria's annual production of 3.1 million tonnes of pig iron and 4.6 million tonnes of crude steel is exported. Other successful export industries are optical instruments, which are assembled near SALZBURG, and paper, which is manufactured near GRAZ from Austria's abundant supplies of timber. Forests cover more than 37 per cent of Austria - a greater proportion than in any other European country except Sweden and Finland.

Next: Attractions for Industry

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