The Baltic Region

Current issue

The Economy of the North-West part of Russia

Innovation performance of Russia’s Northwestern regions: a comparative evaluation

Abstract

Innovative activities underpin the economic development and competitiveness of Russian regions. This article seeks to compare the innovation performance of Russia’s north-western regions, which are among the most progressive in the country, and their available resource. A review of the literature suggests that most Russian publications combine systems of composite indices with econometric and statistical approaches to evaluate regional innovation performance. The same methods are employed in this study. Comparative analysis indicates significant differences between the regions in both available resource and innovation advancements. Juxtaposing composite resource availability indices and innovation performance aided in devising a typology of regions and analysing changes in the position in a composite evaluation matrix. The findings demonstrate that Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region comfortably outperform the other northwestern regions in innovation. Regression and correlation analysis reveals that innovation performance depends crucially on earlier achievements and currently available resources. The Novgorod region, however, is making headway without a marked change in the level of resources. Thus, it is important to transfer innovations designed in resource-rich regions to their less well-off counterparts to achieve positive synergy throughout northwest Russia.

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Institutional approach to assessing the transition to a circular economy: the case of the Kaliningrad region

Abstract

The article discusses possible reasons for the failure of Russia’s waste management industry reform and highlights the ownership blurring as a factor that may hinder the transition to a circular economy, which has been proposed as one of the outcomes of the reform. This study aims to address possible obstacles to transitioning to a circular economy in the Kaliningrad region. Methodologically, the study uses instruments of new institutional economics: by comparing discrete institutional alternatives for municipal solid waste (MSW) management, the authors propose incentive schemes that will likely stimulate the transition to a circular economy in the region. It is shown that, in Russia, the identification of the holder of the property right to waste is complicated. This can be a hindrance to effective MSW management. Moreover, objects handled by MSW management services may fall into different types, but at the same time, it is possible to transfer objects from one type to another. One of the ways to improve the exclusion of services of MSW utilization is the introduction of incentive tariffs. Low-rise housing in the Kaliningrad region makes it an ideal region for the introduction of such a scheme. When calculating the unsorted waste transport fee, a multiplier can be used to reduce the payment for waste-separating households. This can serve as an additional incentive for overcoming collective action problem in MSW collecting and sorting. To prevent social resistance to such a policy, incentive schemes should be implemented on a voluntary basis.

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Social Development in the Baltic Region

Spatial structure and development of settlements in the Saint Petersburg agglomeration

Abstract

This article explores the spatial structure and development of settlements comprising the Saint Petersburg agglomeration. Previous studies and database sources, which were never used before (the Federal Tax Service [FTS] database and SPARK-Interfax), are analysed to reveal factors in the economic development of metropolitan areas as well as to understand how settlements develop in Russia’s second-largest city agglomeration. The borders and composition of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration are brought up to date. Examining the population size of the settlements helps locate the ‘growth belt’ of the agglomeration. Lists of major enterprises of the city and the region make it possible to identify patterns in the economic development of the study area. The SPARK-Interfax database aids in clarifying relationships between spatial elements of the agglomeration (its core and satellites) in the distribution of revenues of economic agents. Data on the location of the largest retail stores — shopping malls and hypermarkets — are used to identify the main centres of commerce in the Saint Petersburg agglomeration. A map chart has been drawn using 2GIS and Yandex Maps geoinformation services. An important step in agglomeration analysis is the identification of residential development hotspots. FTS data on property tax base are the main source of relevant information. FTS reports contain data on the number of residential buildings and units covered by the database. Further, FTS statistics is employed to trace income and job distribution across the study area. The current functions of settlement in the Saint Petersburg agglomeration have been determined. According to the findings, the spatial structure of the agglomeration has three groups of ‘backbone centres’. The agglomeration includes a core, a population growth area (‘growth belt’), commuting sources and recipients, and ‘backbone centres’.

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Response of the Lithuanian municipalities to the First Wave of COVID-19

Abstract

This article analyses the response of Lithuanian local authorities to the first wave of COVID-19 with a special focus on the economic support measures they took. The main goal of this in-depth study is to compare the economic response measures included in the action plans of Riga and Tallinn, two large Lithuanian municipal administrations, as well as to analyse the narrative developed in the two cities. The methodology of this research is based on the review of literature, the analysis of action plans, and a case study. The Vilnius and Klaipėda city municipalities adopted action plans to support residents and businesses. Although there are many measures the plans have in common, they differ in the context and scope of application. Municipalities are willing to grant exemptions from various fees and taxes. They have used innovative measures: Vilnius allowed the opening of outdoor cafes, the practice, which was observed by global media. According to the research findings, the actions of municipal authorities can be successful, as municipalities are closer to the residents and can respond to their needs and those of entrepreneurs more quickly and flexibly. The approval of COVID-19 management action plans by municipalities has contributed to the narrative of recovery and hope.

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Cultural types and the perception of current environmental risks by local communities of the Baltic Sea region

Abstract

This work presents findings from research into the relationship between the structural organisation and cultural attitudes of local communities in the Baltic Sea region and the way they perceive environmental risks. The response of the Kaliningrad community to the development of a local potassium and magnesium salt mine is used as an illustration. The article deals with how local communities perceive the image of risks formed and reproduced via various communication channels. The structural context and the context of communication are taken into account. Another focus is on how this perception is affected by the type of community members’ cultural attitudes (according to Mary Douglas’s grid/group model). The space of categorical variables obtained through multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) aids in clustering the cases (respondents) as well as in testing theoretical assumptions for compliance with the findings. The communicative practices characteristic of all the clusters (classes of cases) are examined; the relationship between the structural organisation of groups, their cultural attitudes, their perception of environmental risks, and the performance of environmental agencies are explored. An evaluation of the comparative efficiency of different ways and means of risk communication with the identified groups is made. It is concluded that the proposed model is methodologically promising and there is a need for differentiated risk-communication strategies.

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Tourism in the Baltic Sea Region

Geography of inbound tourism and transboundary tourism-and-recreation region-building in Sweden

Abstract

Sweden’s tourism industry stands out for its large contribution to the development of the national economy. The vast size of the country makes it possible to trace differences in incoming tourist flows from neighbouring countries. This circumstance accounts for the novelty of this study, which lies in viewing national tourism geography from the perspective of the theory of transboundary tourism-and-recreation region building. Interregional differences in the structure of incoming tourist flows help identify the country’s cross-border tourism-and-recreation regions and delineate their borders. This research employs statistical and cartographic methods. The incoming tourist flow to Sweden grew steadily until 2020. However, the Covid-19 crisis has led to a drastic reduction in the number of incoming tourists. Based on the 2019 statistics, the findings confirm the existence of a developed transboundary tourism-and-recreation mesoregion that brings together Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. The formation boasts strong tourist links. There are another five cross-border tourism-and-recreation mesoregions: Sweden-Norway-Denmark, Middle Sweden-Norway, Sweden-Norway-Finland, Middle Sweden-Finland, and South Sweden-Finland. The number of tourists visiting cross-border mesoregions indicates the degree of development of the latter.

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Project approach in transboundary tourism-and-recreation region building: the case of Karelia

Abstract

This article considers international projects as a factor in building and developing transboundary tourism-and-recreation regions. The Karelian part of the Russian-Finnish border and the adjoining areas of Russia and Finland were the model site for the study. The research aims to measure the contribution of international projects run in 1990—2020 to transboundary region building in the Karelian borderlands. The analysis of 80 international municipal projects shows that they gave a boost to region building and development in the study area. Common trends and specific features of international projects carried out in Karelian municipalities have been identified in the context of transboundary tourism-and-recreation region building. The findings add to a comprehensive picture of how international tourism projects may forward the building and development of transboundary tourism-and-recreation regions. The results of the study can be used in research into international cooperation and tourism. The proposed approach may serve as a tool of a regional economic policy on tourism and thus broaden the scope of possible managerial decisions.

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Social and Economic Processes in the EU Member States

The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and accomplishments

Abstract

The sea and inland hinterland of Baltic Europe form a unique macro-regional unit. Strong collaboration links, and competition in the Baltic Sea region, are an inherent feature of the region from the beginning of its civilization development. Since 2004, the Baltic Sea has become an internal sea of the European Union. This fact no doubt strengthened the cooperation of the countries in the region. In many spheres, these ties take the form of networking. The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is an important stimulus for further integrations. The objective of the article is to identify changing trends and the structural transformation in the Baltic integration process instigated by the implementation of this strategy. The document contains common goals, which strengthen cooperation and draw on the Baltic Sea potential. Three main pillars are outlined in the Strategy: marine protection, better interconnection of the region and growing prosperity. The essence of cooperation involves joint development plans on various levels: governmental, regional and local with the participation of research institutions, regional cooperation infrastructure, operational programmes, as well as the private sector. Political stabilisation and economic development may transform, in a longer time span, the emerging transnational Baltic Europe into a new economic and cultural European centre. The choice of research methodology applied in the study derives from the nature of collected data, i.e. literature regarding scientific accomplishments in the Baltic cooperation, analysis of working documents and reports drawn up by public institutions, the European Commission, and EU national and regional strategic documents.

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The transition process and institutions: on the issue of the standard of living in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe — members of the European Union

Abstract

The aim of this article is to adjust the technique of comparing the standard of living in 11 countries of Central and Eastern Europe that became members of the European Union (EU) during 2004-2013 (EU-11) and 15 countries of Western, Northern and Southern Europe – member states of the EU by 1995 (EU-15). We reveal that outright home ownership in the EU-11 countries exceeds on average 75%, while almost two-thirds of households in the EU-15 countries have a mortgage or pay rent spending on housing on average up to one quarter of their income. Despite 30 years of transition to a market economy, the EU-11 countries largely inherited such home ownership structure from the centrally planned economy institutions, i.e. individually-owned and cooperative housing, as well as subsidized state-owned housing stock that became the private property of tenants at the start of market reforms. We propose a technique of taking into account households’ income and housing costs (mortgage and rent) in one indicator given the current home ownership structure in an economy. After the purchasing power parity (PPP) adjustment, our calculations reveal that the standard of living disparities between the EU-11 and EU-15 states are less significant than when compared at nominal prices or PPP alone. Moreover, the disparity in average living standards between these two groups of countries turns out to be narrower than cross-regional differences within seven EU member states at the Eurostat’s NUTS 2 level.

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Book Review