The Baltic Region

2013 Issue №4(18)

Theory and practice of networking

Construction of transport and energy networks in the Baltic region as an impetus for regional development

Abstract

In light of some new aspects of the EU functioning, particularly, the recovery from the 2008-2009 global crisis, transportation and energy development projects are coming to the forefront in the Baltic region. At the same time, there is a need to consider EU’s recent adoption of a common seven-year financial program (2014—2020), which serves, in effect, as the Union’s budget. Given that, one may conclude that the countries of the Baltic region are entering a new stage of development. We look at the role and significance of transportation and energy projects as an instrument of economic development. Having studied the largest transport and energy projects in the Baltic region, we were able to show that the new infrastructure networks supported the investment expansion of Swedish and Finnish companies into the post-communist countries of the Baltic Region. Which, in its turn, allowed the Nordic investors to expand their domestic markets. The analysis also shows that the experience of private businesses proves a recent theoretical concept — the pyramid of regional development factors. As a result, the actual regional policy of the EU cannot be considered in the narrow sense of the Cohesion Policy alone.

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Interorganisational networking as the principal form of technological, innovative and research cooperation between Russia and the European Union in the Baltic region

Abstract

This article concerns the role that international cooperation in research, technology, and innovation plays in ensuring innovative development and producing an innovative model of the Russian economy. One of the key objectives of the country’s integration into international research, technological, and innovative space is the development of Russia-EU cooperation in the Baltic region. It is established that, with the development of integration connections and regionalization processes, interorganizational networking takes on special importance in the organization and development of the innovative space. The authors analyze the existing typologies of forms of cooperation in the field of research, technology, and innovation, within which cases of networking are identified. The article gives a definition of interorganizational networks in view of the spatial and structural components of networking. The authors introduce the notion of international interorganizational networks as a special form of international cooperation. A study into the spatial form of interorganizational networks helps explain the effect of different levels and types of economic integration. Key areas of research on international interorganizational networks are identified in view of the features of integration processes in the development of network processes and in the framework of network approach in general.

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A spatial study of networking in the Vistula Lagoon region using geoinformation systems

Abstract

Network cooperation — the most efficient form of unlocking the economic and natural potential of territories — is rapidly developing in Russia under the influence of global processes. Due to its unique geopolitical position, the Kaliningrad region is one of the regions where such networks develop at both the regional and international levels. When studying such forms of cooperation, the traditional methods of social sciences as research tools are not sufficient, which is explained by the dynamic nature of network cooperation as well as the fact that it involves a significant number of independent agents. We believe that one of the important tools of research on network cooperation is regional integral geoinformation systems (GIS). Modern GIS are successfully used in related fields, such as environmental and climate studies, geology, urban studies, and serve as rather efficient tools of analysing spatial objects and phenomena. One of such systems has been developed and is successfully functioning at the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, which makes it possible to use it in studying network cooperation in the framework of crossborder development with the involvement of Kaliningrad municipalities. The key objective set by the authors of the article is to justify the need for studying the emerging network cooperation with the help of both traditional methods of geography and modern GIS; a specific case is made of the cross-border Vistula lagoon region — the one that brings together Russian and Polish municipalities. The authors provide with the background for the search of possible development strategies in the region, and note that the creation of a regional GIS structure can become a necessary component of the region’s information and communication structure; this conclusion can be considered the key result of the research conducted. The practical significance of the article lies in justifying the use of modern geoinformation systems as a tool of territory development as well as for the purpose of making efficient managerial decisions at different levels.

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International cooperation

Russia and the European Union in the Baltic region: a treacherous path to partnership

Abstract

This article examines policies of Moscow and Brussels in the Baltics since the launch of the European Union’s Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in June 2009. An increase in the efficiency of Russia’s policy in the region requires not only the development of bilateral relations with the region’s countries but also a dialogue with the European Union, the key player in the Baltic. The author identifies Russian economic, military, political, and humanitarian interests in the region, and describes the structure, content, and main areas of the implementation of the EU Baltic strategy in 2009—2013. The article examines the evolution of the Strategy, which initially ignored Russian national interests in the region, yet eventually resulted in cooperative efforts in the areas of common interest such as energy, transport infrastructure, environment, research, education and culture. The results of the Russian presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (2012—2013) are evaluated. It is noted that, despite an appealing presidency strategy and certain achievements in its implementation, Russia was unable to draw up a regional agenda and use the CBSS as an efficient platform for harmonizing its Baltic strategy with that of the EU. The causes of the current deadlock in EU — Russian relations regarding the Baltic are analyzed. The author formulates policy recommendations on fostering Russian-European cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. These recommendations range from the suggestion of joint revisions of mutual conceptual perceptions and strategic goals pursued by the EU and Russia in the Baltic Sea region to more practical measures in the institutional, administrative, and financial fields.

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Cooperation between Russia and the EU in the field of innovative development of tourism: the case of the Lithuania — Poland — Russia cross-border cooperation programme

Abstract

To study the key instruments of international cooperation between Russia and the European Union aimed at stimulating innovative development of tourism co-financed by the EU and Russia. The author describes specific projects implemented in the framework of the Lithuania-Poland-Russia cross-border cooperation programme for 2009—2013 in the field of tourism. Special attention is paid to analysing tourism innovations that have emerged as a result of the projects aimed at cooperation and tourism development in the border regions of Russia and the EU countries. A number of projects have been implemented under the supervision and with the participation of the author. The article focuses on the role of innovative types of tourism in the regional development of territories in the case of the Kaliningrad region. The current approaches to defining tourism innovations in Russian and international studies are not comprehensive and do not reflect the essence of innovative processes. Innovative development is often reduced to the introduction of new information technologies, i. e. informatization replaces innovative development. However, it is important to take into account other innovative tools: for instance, interactive network museums in developing innovative tourist attraction objects, e-marketing in introducing innovations in tourist product promotion, programmes of private- public partnership in the field of public regulation and tourism stimulation, etc. These technologies contribute to the transition fr om a certain economic agent, the industry as a whole, or a tourist destination to a fundamentally new level in terms of tourist product presentation and increase of competitiveness. The sources for innovations in tourism are both the providers and consumers of tourist services. In those regions wh ere tourism is considered an economic priority, local authorities and even super-governmental organisations, such as the European Commission (through different co-financing programmes), can also become innovators.

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The potential for expanding inter-cluster cooperation between the ship-building industries of Estonia, Finland, and North-West Russia

Abstract

The shipbuilding industry clusters in the Eastern Baltic Sea region, i. e. Estonia, Finland and North-West Russia, may benefit significantly from increased mutual cooperation; however, the international networks between the clusters are still poorly developed. The aim of this article is to analyse the preconditions for cluster internationalization between these clusters, which are rather different but complementary in terms of skills. The research material for this desk study was collected from various sources, including journal articles, media, research reports, and other publications. The results of the study indicate that the increasing cooperation within the triangle of these clusters has a significant potential in terms of combining different areas of expertise and creating a multidimensional maritime industry hub in the region. However, differences in the cluster structure and development stages lead to certain difficulties in achieving these objectives. In conclusion, the authors identify the factors both facilitating and inhibiting networking between the three clusters. This study provides a platform for further research focusing on the factors identified and gives ideas for public discussion on increased inter-cluster cooperation.

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Competitive effects of low trade barriers: evaluations for the Kaliningrad region

Abstract

International trade is an important factor affecting competition in domestic markets. Considering the vastness of Russian territory, one can expect the pro-competitive effect to vary from region to region. This analysis tests the hypothesis that the unique geographical position and economic status of the Kaliningrad region contribute to the rapid development of international trade, which, in turn, exerts competitive pressure on regional prices. The study incorporates two major lines of analysis: a) a comparison of the international trade growth rates of different Russian regions; b) an assessment of the influence of Russian and European prices on the consumer price index as well as prices for particular tradable goods in the Kaliningrad region. Rosstat and Eurostat serve as the main data sources. To test their hypothesis, the authors use the methods of statistical and econometric analysis. The status of the free economic zone and unique geographic position of the Kaliningrad region do not result in high growth rates of international trade in the region, but rather lead to a structural shift towards import thus exerting additional competitive pressure on domestic prices. The analysis did not confirm the hypothesis about the considerable influence of European prices on the short run dynamics of the regional consumer prices index or prices for certain imported goods. Nevertheless, indirect evidence of competitive effects of foreign trade was found in the course of a comparative analysis of price levels in the regions of the Northwest Federal district: the cost of the standard set of consumer goods and services in the Kaliningrad region is lower than the level defined by the regional per capita income.

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Geography and economy of the Kaliningrad region: limitations and prospects of development

Abstract

With its exclave status, the Kaliningrad region has been drawing attention of many researchers in different fields. Yet the prospects for cooperation between the region and neighbouring communities in Poland and Lithuania, which once constituted an integrated social, economic and political space, remain unclear. Media analysts and scholars alike tend to view the Kaliningrad region as “double periphery”, since it is excluded from major modernisation processes both in the European integration zone and in the Russian Federation. However, a detailed study involving polyscale socioeconomic indices, expert interviews, and surveys run contrary to this viewpoint. A look at the key indices of the Kaliningrad region and the neighbouring communities of Poland and Lithuania showed that both socioeconomic situation and standards of living are comparable in these areas, which indicates the prerequisites for mutually beneficial interregional cooperation. We have analysed factual information on socioeconomic development of cross-border regions and surveyed the students from the leading universities of Gdansk, Kaliningrad and Klaipeda. We were thus able to conclude that the reasons behind the delapidated cross-border relations are rather subjective and lie in the field of geopolitical orientation, information and institutional policy, as well as persistent stereotypes that shape public opinion. In this light, integration between the Kaliningrad region and mainland Russia is seen not only as an economic, but also as a sociocultural objective. An analysis of the stages of the region’s exclavisation, and policies of social support stemming from the uniqueness of the economic and geographical position of the region substantiate this conclusion.

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Political elites in the region’s countries

The structure of political elite networks in the Republic of Poland in 1993—2013

Abstract

To identify the structure of network ties within Polish political elites; to study the features of network ties formation and the impact that both primary and labour socialisation periods and diaspora characteristics have on this process; to describe the structural features of the resultant network structures over different periods of time and analyse the structural dynamics of political elites for the purpose of forecasting major trends in the structural transformation of Polish political elites. In the course of the study, biographical data on the presidents, ministers, advisors, and party leaders of the Republic of Poland was collected and processed. The work follows the network analysis paradigm and identifies the dynamics of the key network parameters: distance, density, transitivity, and compactness. The author analyses the dynamics of representation in the structure of political territorial diaspora elites, business community members, and ‘moral politicians’. The article identifies two periods of formation of political party networks in Poland: the first period (1993—2007) saw a transition from rather weakly integrated systems to high density and cohesion networks as early as the second electoral cycle, after which a gradual decrease in the key indices of network integration was registered. A new peak of network cohesion and integration was reached in 2007—2011; however, the death of some key members of political elites in a plane crash resulted in a decrease in the network integration indices to the level of 2001—2005. On the whole, the network structure of Polish political elite is characterised by unstable dynamics relating to the crisis events of the past. However, it is established that the elites have a pronounced diaspora core and an unstable periphery; the share of businesspeople directly participating in political processes is decreasing, whereas ‘moral politicians’ usually take an active part in the formation of political elites.

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The political elite recruitment in the Baltic: the role of the ethnic factor

Abstract

The role of the ethnic factor in political processes in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia has been rather significant since these countries’ independence. The author investigates the assumption that after the completion of major Eurointegration procedures, the ethnic factor — which became especially important in the Baltics after independence — relegated to the periphery of political life. After a period of ‘independence-induced euphoria’ faded, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian power groups had to tackle the problem of civil society formation and the development of a political regime based on democratic procedures. In these countries the processes of elite recruitment were largely affected by the factor of ethic homogeneity of the social structure. This article analyses the process of elite group formation in the Baltics through the lens of the ethnic factor. By applying the ethnopolitical approach, the author concludes that the de facto barriers to non-titular population groups entering power structures, which exist in Latvia and Estonia, “freeze” the system of elite recruitment. In the conditions of increasing social unrest, it may have an adverse effect on the overall political stability in these countries. The results obtained can be used for research, educational, and practical purposes. In the field of research and education, they can be employed in further research on the transformation of the elite structure in the Baltics in view of the ethnopolitical factor, including comparative analysis of the elite re-grouping processes, as well as in developing corresponding university courses. As to the practical aspect, the results obtained can be used by the authorities of the Russian Federation in making decisions regarding interaction with the representatives of Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian political elites.

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