Abstract The article is devoted to the problem of choosing the strategic way of development for the Irkutsk region. The author opposes two possible vectors of development connected with resource and innovative economy types. The necessity of formulating the strategy for innovative development of the region exclusively within the limits of the developed administrative stereotypes and traditional sectoral planning leads to the strategic dilemma. On the one hand, the simplest way is to continue resource-based development of the region, first of all, in the interests of big business and commerce. The alternative to the "inertial" scenario lies in abandoning the way of exclusively resource-based development. Concentrating all regional resources in order to provide conditions and incentives for developing the "new" economy of the region presupposes strategic “breakthrough” towards “the innovative future”.
Keywords: strategic dilemma, innovative development, scenarios of development.
The article analyzes the problems of choosing the vector of regional development. The choice is complex due to there being a variety of different scenarios of regional development, ranging from the innovative to the raw materials extraction-based approach. The problem of analyzing the specific character of regional development has never been as urgent as it is today, due to the great number of new approaches and methods to be applied to the subject of inquiry. The author distinguishes between two scientific approaches conventionally termed as “old regionalism” and “new regionalism”. New approaches to studying regionalism emphasize the phenomenon of territory as a crucial factor of analysis. In view of classical theory of modernization, territory and space are the factors to be respected and valued by the traditional society. Retaining territorial diversity is considered to have resulted from an unaccomplished integration process. From this standpoint, emphasis on space should be regarded as legacy of the past, rather than an outcome of the present.
Information revolution in the late 20th century contributed to defeating the thesis of space being considered as a major factor of development, thus giving a path to the ideology of waning influence of space in the process of communicative development.
Viewed from classical modernization models, the concept of centralization can never provoke any rational objection. T. Parsons, the classic of modernization theory, considered regionalism manifestations to be a consequence of conservatism rooted in society and hindering its progress towards “cultural universalism”. Famous scientists, H. Kohn and Ch. Tilly, expressed the idea that regions hamper economic and social progress due to sticking to archaic local customs, that is why advancement towards liberal government presupposes integration of smaller regions into larger ones. All the above-mentioned factors fit well into the centralized model of modernization, which has a long-standing tradition in Russian and Soviet history. Gradually the idea of having a powerful centre, which serves as a guarantor of social progress, came there to become axiomatic. It is even possible to speak about the principles of such approach:
1. Regional policy is less important than central government’s policy.
2. Regional economic policy cannot produce any considerable impact on the region’s political development.
3. Regional elites oppose reforms, while those of Moscow governing bodies encourage them.
4. Regional politics is confined to the issue of who owns resources.
As there appear new interpretational models related to such a perspective as “new regionalism”, the situation does not seem simple or evident. The process of territorial policy reconstruction and revival in new forms is under way. As far as European federalism is concerned, we can speak about sophisticated correlation of different level of the European society confronted with a strong challenge from various regionalisms. The scheme of changing region-state interrelations, which was offered by the modern researcher M. Keating, is of great interest.
The basis of the concept is formed not merely by the thesis that regional spaces are considered as socially constructed phenomena (P. Bourdieu), but also by the understanding that these spaces, in their turn, shape our behavior, identity, consciousness, and communicative strategies. Therefore, “the spaces or geographies that we produce can oppress us, can harm us, can seriously constrain our lives” (Ehrenfeucht Renia, 2002). While “old regionalism” was predominantly the product of states’ integration activities and was of protectionist and introvert character, “new regionalism” is distinguished by its openness to influences and appeal to pluralism; it implies inevitable stratification in any space so that at different levels each actor out of many could decide which level to choose for implementing one’s strategy most efficiently.
In the framework of “new regionalism”, the spatial organization of region-state interrelations may assume various forms, such as “stateless nations” (Quebec, Catalonia, or Scotland) (Keating M. 1997) (or “citystate”) (Hong Kong, New York, and others) (Peirce Neal R. 1993). The forms “new regionalism” is manifesting itself in have not been properly defined yet: some speak of “initiatives”, “programs”, or “frameworks” of cross-border cooperation, or even of “dimensions”. Other specialists make use of the territorial division’s “new geometry” concept, implying a number of regional integration forms defined in various terms. Hence, there appears a metaphorically termed “regionalism without regions” situation, which means that regions have turned into certain “imaginary spaces” whose outlines are determined by their identities, representations, narratives, cultural fields and flows, one the one hand, and wills of major powers, on the other hand.
As far as Russia is viewed in the context of “new regionalism” methodology, we can definitely speak of the following:
a) It is not only authorities, but also industrial enterprises, study and research institutions, ethnic and cultural communities that can play their part in developing springboard for regional development;
b) Above the level of administrative regions there are shaping new forms of spatiality whose outlines may not coincide with the “official” ones – these are spaces of recreation, publicity, safety, etc. (Shapiro M., Neubauer D.,1989);
c) Regional governing centers can be taken outside the territorial domain (Knyaginin V.)
In the framework of the contemporary opposition “regionalization-globalization”, the concept of “new regionalism” deconstructs the opposition, while presenting regionalization and globalization as interconnected processes that may slide from one to the other, intersect, intermingle, and overlap. Spatially, any actor seeks for choosing the scale to fulfill its interests most efficiently: whether it be the scale of a city, or a country, or a transnational region.
It is this context that clarifies discussions on where to search for sources for innovative development – either in cities or in nations. The discussions are closely related to the level-of-analysis problem in international relations. Academic literature on regionalism tends to give preference to subnational units, with various classifications for these units being of considerable interest. For example, the scheme offered by Jane Jacobs includes the following:
− “city-regions”, e.g. Hong Kong or the Silicon Valley;
− “supply regions” specializing in a narrow market segment, thus providing big cities with food or raw materials, e.g. Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, Alberta province in Canada, Iowa state in the USA;
− “abandoned regions” losing their population and migrating to more developed centers;
− “clearance regions” destined for reproducing development patterns borrowed from stronger central regions;
− “transplant regions” ready to allocate on their territory production facilities moved from other areas (e.g. southern states of the USA);
− “subsistence regions”, which are not paid proper attention to (Wolf M. 2006).
In the same point of space a vast number of regionalisms, that is, ways of developing the regional space, can intersect. In other words, “any place is polysemantic, polyfunctional, and polycontextual” (Kaganskiy V.)
− in view of government employees, regionalism is represented by formal administrative units (federal subjects);
− in view of managers of large corporations, regionalism is outlined with points they have business in;
− in view of mobile telecoms, regional space is a business map showing their coverage area;
− in view of shipping companies, regionalism is structured by their railroad or automobile communications;
− in view of university management, the regional space is identical to their branch network, and so forth.
The “new regionalism” conception points out an important concept serving as common denominator for both regionalization and globalization. It is the depoliticization concept. Logically, it suggests that the regional construction itself in the framework of such concept of spatial development makes regions be apolitical. In this regard, regionalism, conventionally speaking, “dissolves” politics per se and proves to be one of depoliticization mechanisms embodied in figures of “experienced managers” saturating the regional agenda with the spirit of management.
In the context of our analysis, of great significance is the idea of increasing importance of outlying districts (“marginal” areas) for Russia. It is due to that globalization can decrease the importance of geographical factor for central powers, but for peripheral territories the factor’s value is not decreasing, and may even gain increasing importance (Reut O.) Therefore, “new regionalism” can be interpreted also as an instrument by means of which a number of outlying countries avoids the threat of being turned into socio-cultural and political periphery due to being geographically distant from centers of decision-making. (Antonich M. 2002).
2. Irkutsk regionalism: old and new The contemporary social and economic system of Irkutsk region was shaped in the second half of the last century. Under socialist economy of industrial planning, Siberian territories, rich in mineral resources, were developed with due regard for macroeconomic interests of the whole country. Social and territorial infrastructure of the region was formed depending on the largest energy-producing and industrial objects: the cascade of hydroelectric power plants on the river Angara, aluminum-producing plants, and wood-processing plants. The northern cities of Bratsk and Ust-Ilimsk virtually emerged in the area that used to be covered with dense taiga forest; a number of settlements were founded due to wood-processing and timber enterprises and goldmines located there. In a number of books, for instance, in the book by V. M. Boyarkin (Boyarkin V.M. 2000), the processes of industrial development of Siberian territory and the Irkutsk region in the second half of the 20th century are described in detail.
From the point of view of economic geography, Irkutsk region is currently a vast territory with the surface area compared to the one of France and Germany’s combined and including areas with an extremely uneven degree of land development. The population density rate in Irkutsk region is currently about 3 people per km2,while in France and Germany it is over 200 per km2.
Under Soviet sectoral planning, Siberian territories, which are rich in natural resources, were considered to be a kind of storehouse of raw materials so that their extensive development was determined exclusively by macroeconomic interests of the country’s development. The region’s current territorial, settlement and social infrastructure was formed around the largest energy and industrial facilities.
In the north-west, there are territories where fuel energy complex enterprises and big export-oriented production facilities characterized by inefficient natural resources processing are located, but in some neighboring areas there is not a single settlement within the area of 300-400 km. In the south of the region, territories near Lake Baikal and along the Trans-Siberian Railway are the most densely populated and developed. Here, along with leading enterprises in heavy engineering industry, metallurgy, and petrochemistry, higher education and research institutions are located. Territories in the centre and in the northeast of the region underwent the process of Soviet industrialization to a lesser extent so that here traditional patterns of life still prevail: inhabitants of small settlements are engaged in agriculture, fishing and hunting. Economic and geographical assessment of the social and economic system in Irkutsk region is given in a number of works (Vinokurov M.A.1998, 1999, 2002, 2005).
Rapid social and economic transformations that have taken place in Russia for the last 15–20 years have led to significant changes in the distribution structure of centers of economic activities. At the same time, the population settlement pattern shaped in the 20th century during the Soviet period has changed little throughout the process of industrial development.
Our research reveals that currently in under-urbanized regional areas, where extracting industry prevails, there is a discrepancy between facility location and population settlement patterns. Company owners raise efficiency to the detriment of the territorial development interests. Sometimes, due to closure of production facilities or cutbacks, even large settlements lose all socio-economic prospects. These factors intensify unfavorable demographic trends (high death rate and low birthrate) as well as high rate of emigration among working age population groups. Overall population decline typical for all Russian regions of Siberia and the Far East is close to the critical level. This intensifies interregional competition for high skilled workforce (Lamin V.A. , Efimkin M.M. 2009).
It is well known that Russia is currently going over to the strategic planning principles. At the national level the “The Concept of Long-term Socio-economic Development of the Russian Federation for the Period up to the year 2020” and Development Strategies for Siberia, for the Russian Far East and for Baikal region have been developed and approved. The chosen principal strategic development scenario for Russia is the so-called scenario of innovative development. This scenario implies formulating strategies for developing new knowledge-based economy that is to take into account the competitive advantages of every region.
Irkutsk region’s unquestionable competitive advantages are as follows:
Advantageous geographical position and geopolitical significance of the region located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe.
The region is rich in raw materials including energy resources such as hydrocarbons, metals, lumber, and materials used in manufacture for construction industry.
A considerable amount of low-cost energy resources.
Developed processing industries.
Relatively developed transport infrastructure and high transit potential.
Lake Baikal that is a unique natural object of world-wide significance, which contains roughly 20% of the world's surface fresh water and about a half of all potable water.
Rich cultural and recreational potential.
A wide network of research and educational institutions.
Irkutsk region, like any other region of Siberia, has a set of key problems that affect the process of formulating innovative development strategies:
Extractive economy and low technological level of enterprises discourage motivation for innovations.
Key enterprises in the region are owned by largest Russian and international financial and industrial holdings – that makes enterprises dependent and allows the owners to withdraw a considerable part of income, while socio-economic development of the territory is disregarded.
unevenness in socio-economic development of the territory
pressing environmental problems
infrastructure underdevelopment and lack of legal and financial instruments to support innovative activities and small business
low income level and lack of acceptable living conditions
negative demographic and migration processes (i.e. high death rate and considerable population outflow, especially younger population outflow)
In these circumstances, development of Irkutsk region can follow two different scenarios.
The simplest way is to proceed with extractive economy development, which is beneficial for big business mostly. This strategy, in mid-term prospect, could obviously prove fruitful: new mineral deposits would be developed, new jobs would be created in underdeveloped areas of the region, transport infrastructure would develop and social security programs would be supported by regional administration but only on the basis of residual view of social welfare. However, in long-term prospect, the efficiency of this approach is not so evident. Any hope that in due course resource-intensive big business will become mature enough to introduce innovations or to play an active part in socio-cultural or infrastructural development of the area is illusory. Consequently, in case that region chooses this “inertia” strategy it may face aggravating problems and lose benefits, thus turning into an outsider of innovative development in the near 8–10 years.
Abandoning the pattern of regional development based exclusively on extracting and processing natural resources is an alternative to the “inertia” scenario. Within the framework of this approach, regional development should be based on revealing those competitive advantages that Irkutsk region does not exploit to the full (e.g. tourist and recreational potential of Baikal region or a wide network of research and educational institutions). Concentrating all regional resources aimed at developing the “new” regional economy along these directions could facilitate a “strategic” breakthrough into the “innovative” future. However, the region does not currently have solid economic and infrastructural basis for implementing this scenario. Moreover, its implementation could lead to the deterioration of socio-economic situation in the region. This scenario presupposes significant economic and structural changes, mobilization and attraction of long-term investment in infrastructure and research-intensive industries. In addition, it is necessary to change priorities in allocating budget expenditures, with increasing support for a number of programs and projects that may fail to seem urgent for the majority of regional population. The scenario calls for strengthening the region’s position in competing for federal resources, with advancing regional interests against those of the federal center and big business. Even being risky, this approach to the highest extent conforms to the conceptual vision of Russia’s development. Its implementation could bring considerable strategic bonuses.
3. Challenge of the future and scenarios of regional development Stereotypes of existing planning practices make these two scenarios mutually excluding. Irkutsk region has found itself in a situation similar to the one in setting up a problem in classical game theory, which is known as the “prisoner dilemma”. If chosen, the first scenario can ensure 5–10 relatively stable years but it may run counter to the interests of forward-looking regional elite and, if truth be told, it may fail to secure implementation of federal domestic policy programs. Despite high risks, the second scenario closely corresponds with federal priorities but faces the resistance on the part of big business and the “old” regional elite guarding interests of big business. The pursuit of relative stability can result in choosing the “inertia” scenario in spite of the fact that the innovative scenario can produce potentially much more significant results.
It is for this reason that Irkutsk region – despite considerable efforts of the expert community and notwithstanding federal government requirements – still has no distinct strategy for development. Our research results suggest that a rational solution to this dilemma can be found. First of all, it is necessary to abandon administrative stereotypes and to consider the problem of choosing a strategic scenario for Irkutsk region’s development in view of cooperative behavior strategy. In this context, cooperation implies the largest possible combination of all participants’ interests, even if they may prove contradictory; though, these participants are ready to meet each other halfway to obtain the results acceptable for all the actors.
The scenario that appears to be the most rational one is the balanced development scenario combining the most positive aspects of the two approaches to the strategic development of the region. This approach, in our opinion, can become the basis for applying the innovative strategy to the development of Irkutsk region.
First and foremost, it is necessary to single out the territories that potentially could form the basis for development, while taking into consideration the uneven nature of current socio-economic situation in Irkutsk region. Advanced spatial socio-economic analysis shows that formation of regional territorial structure based on concentration of resources along the three key planning axes and within three key development centers is the optimal solution.
Regional territorial structure elements should have different economic specialization. Projects that are to be implemented in compliance with both the “inertia” scenario and the alternative “innovative” approach should be distributed logically through the planning period. In the mid-term, priority could be given to projects aimed at deploying new raw materials. At the same time, benefits gained from these projects should not be spent on replicating raw-material economy. Rather, they should be accumulated and spent on developing infrastructure and preparing the launch of the “innovative” scenario. In the long term, the accumulated resources will make it possible to launch innovative projects aimed at new knowledge-based economy development.
4. Planning axes The part of the Trans-Siberian Railway from the city of Taishet to Irkutsk agglomeration and then to the town of Baikalskis the first planning axis. Along this axis, both in medium and long-term prospects, transport and logistics nodes of federal or regional importance could be created. The existing industrial sites could be used for allocating enterprises engaged in mineral resource processing or research-intensive production.
The Baikal-Amur Mainline’s part that passes through Irkutsk region is the second planning axis. This area is the most promising one for implementing natural resource deployment projects in the coming 10–12 years. Deploying new deposits of hydrocarbons, iron ore, and potassium salts and processing the existing mineral and lumber resources with due consideration for industry reorientation is of high importance here. With regard to the prospect of constructing the North Siberian Mainline, it is expected that this axis will function as the “latitudinal alternate” for Trans-Siberian Railway. To make it possible, multi-modal hubs of regional (in the cities of Bratsk and Ust-Ilimsk) and interregional (in Ust-Kut) importance should be created.
The third planning axis is a promising direction for Irkutsk region’s development after the year 2020. Large-scale projects for infrastructure development and mineral resource deployment, such as construction of the “Vilyuy” highway, the Lena–Nepa–Lensk railway mainline, integration of the Yakutsk energy system into the Unified Energy System of Russia, the start of developing the Kovykta gas-condensate field, are expected to be implemented within this period. Along this planning axis, in the long term, the “inertia” scenario projects aimed at realizing the natural-resource potential of Irkutsk region and providing new industries, such as gas energy, gas chemistry and petrochemistry, with resources for development in the years 2020-2025 are to be implemented.
The three development centers are located in the focal points of every planning axis.
The South development centre includes the southern part of Pre-Baikal area and the agglomeration of Irkutsk, Angarsk and Shelekhov. This territory in the long term should become the core area for implementing the innovative development scenario.
Adding economic value to Lake Baikal means that the lake area should be regarded not only as a unique recreation resource but also as a strategic stock of fresh water, tourism services development; establishing centers for education and innovation is among the priorities for territories located near Lake Baikal. Based on this special economic zone, a large tourism industry cluster oriented both to Russian and world markets should be created.
The Irkutsk, Angarsk and Shelekhov agglomeration project is one of the key elements in the regional development strategy. To attract and retain skilled professionals by sustaining high living standards is the strategic goal of this project. Concentration of human capital will create the prerequisites for innovative activities to be based on unique developments of research and education centers of Irkutsk agglomeration. Irkutsk agglomeration can become an international financial centre, a centre of engineering education and tourism, and a centre for managing large-scale economic projects.
The agglomeration’s neighboring areas, in conformity with their traditional specialization, will facilitate the efficient development of the agro-industrial complex.
The North-West development centre includes the industrially-developed cities of Taishet, Bratsk, Ust-Ilimsk and Zheleznogorsk-Ilimsky. In the mid-term, this territory will be the ground for projects of deploying mineral resources. In the long term, its potential is supposed to be employed for allocating high-tech enterprises dealing with complex processing of raw materials and for producing high value-added goods. Creation of a forest industry cluster comprising the entire lumber production process from logging to woodworking and wood processing will make the northern territories more competitive.
The North-East development centre on the basis of Ust-Kut city in the long term is expected to play a role of interregional transport, logistics and industrial node where extraction, processing and transportation of raw materials (oil, natural gas, lumber) are concentrated. The city of Ust-Kut is located at the crossroads of railroad, aviation, automobile and Lena river navigation ways. The Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean oil pipeline runs here. After constructing the “Vilyuy” highway and the Lena–Nepa–Lensk railway mainline, the strategic significance of this transport node will increase.
In addition to the centers mentioned above, the plan is to form second-order development centers based on small towns specializing in industries and located along key traffic arteries. Enterprises in these centers will provide services for raw materials development projects that will be implemented in the north of the region.
5. Conclusions Currently, Irkutsk region authorities are facing the problem of choosing the development strategy, and the situation resembles the one in classical mathematical game theory, which is known as the “prisoner dilemma”. Choosing the first (“resource-based”) scenario means that the region will have 5–10 relatively stable years, but this scenario comes into contradiction with the interests of forward-looking regional elite and, after all, will not ensure that federal policy programs succeed. The second (“innovative”) scenario, despite high risks, is more innovative in its nature, but it runs into resistance on the part of big business and the “old” regional elite guarding interests of big business. These circumstances are responsible for the fact that despite considerable efforts of the forward-leaning expert community and notwithstanding federal government requirements the only document enacted is “The Concept of Long-term Socio-economic Development”. In this connection, the process of developing and enforcing documents to provide the guidelines for medium-term planning, alongside with the current activities of the regional government question the feasibility of the major clauses of the Concept.
In our opinion, the most rational scenario is the “balanced development scenario” combining, one way or another, the aspects of the above-formulated scenarios for the region’s strategic development; this scenario can provide the basis (and the target) for the innovative strategy in Irkutsk region. First and foremost, in the framework of the “balanced development scenario” it is necessary to assign proper time periods for implementing both the resource-based scenario and its “innovative” alternative, since they cannot be implemented simultaneously. It is of high importance here that benefits from implementing the projects of developing new deposits and resources should not be dissipated through replicating raw materials-based economy pattern; rather, they should be accumulated and directed for developing the innovative infrastructure basis, for equipping enterprises and plants with advanced technologies, including those transferred, and for launching large-scale regional innovative projects based on exploiting the competitive advantages of Irkutsk region. In the long term, by 2017-2020, the financial and economic resources accumulated throughout the first stage will obviously have formed the foundation for developing new innovative knowledge-based economy, thus enabling to fully reveal and exploit the competitive advantages of the region. It is vital that the scenarios implementation should be properly localized in the region through applying the spatial socio-economic analysis results. Irkutsk agglomeration can become the focal point of the so-called cluster of “creative” and cultural industries, which is to gain increasing economic significance for large cities in Russia. In the level of development in “creative” and cultural industries cluster, Irkutsk ranks 4th and 5th among capital cities of the Siberian Federal District.
If the strategic approach to Irkutsk region’s economic and geographic zoning described above is accepted, it is evident that concentration of economic activities within these marked zones will necessitate the search for the most adequate way of developing social infrastructure. It will require a review of the current policy of social welfare leveling, since this policy results in increasing regional budget expenditures and inefficient use of funds on the minimal possible level of social welfare provision in all the region’s territories. Along the planning axes and in development centers it is necessary to create zones of socio-cultural priority with high living standards, so that regional resources should be accumulated to encourage the influx of creative population groups including professionals from other regions. It is this approach that makes it possible to solve the strategic dilemma of innovative development in Irkutsk region and to elaborate the Strategy of social and economic development in the region. The implementation of the strategy enables to harness the potential of all territories in order to develop the innovative sector in the region’s economy, to provide comfortable living and working environment, and thereby to lower the emigration rate in younger and more active population groups.
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