Scientific approaches to managing the socio-economic development of the Russian Far East have been studied and systematized. The contribution to the mechanism of developing and implementing state regional policy in Russia has been assessed. The study is based on the theory of state regulation of territorial development. The goals, objects, methodological principles and implementation mechanism are studied. It has been found out that in Soviet times the scientific approaches to the management of socio-economic development of the Far East were focused on the reasoning for the policy of integrating the macro-region and its industries into the system of national economic planning, rather than the logic of the purposes for the development of the Far Eastern territories. Despite the developed theoretical approaches and numerous directive ways to create an effective system of coordinated sectoral and territorial planning decisions and management solutions, numerous objective and subjective contradictions could not be overcome, and the problem of correlation between the provisions of territorial and sectorial divisions of the Far East development programs was never solved. It is shown that, even though the theoretical approaches to managing the development of the Far East have changed since the 2000s and become based on theories of spatial economics, the trend of integrating the Far East economy into the national priorities of the country has continued.
The Russian Far East which has a significant territory, natural resources and favourable geographical location, has historically been a special focus of Russian regional policy, due to its geostrategic and geopolitical importance. The socio-economic development of the Far Eastern regions has been much influenced by the scientific concepts used by the authorities in defining state policy for the development of the Far Eastern region.
The peculiarity of the current stage of the Russian Federation's regional policy is that the objects of its state influence are geostrategic territories of the country, concerning which a wide range of tools to stimulate regional development is applied, which is shown up in the Strategy for Spatial Development of the Russian Federation until 2025 (Strategiya…, 2019).
In this regard, it is relevant to study the transformation of scientific views on the management of geostrategic territories on the example of the Far East regions to come at the effective management solutions to other geostrategic regions of the Russian Federation in the future.
The evolution of scientific approaches to managing the development of the Russian Far East represents the variability of Russia’s state regional policy mechanisms. The scientific approaches of Russian scientists to managing the development of the Far East territories were based on different theories of state regulation of spatial development and also transformed depending on the strategic goals of the regional policy of the Russian state.
Purpose of the Study
This article aims to explore and systematize scientific approaches to managing the socio-economic development of the Russian Far East and to assess their contribution to the mechanism for developing and actualizing state regional policy in Russia.
The study is based on the theory of state regulation of territorial development. To address the stated purpose of the study, scientific approaches to the management of socio-economic development of the Russian Far East, their contribution to the development of the state regional policy of Russia in terms of giving reasons for objectives, objects, methodological principles and a working mechanism is being studied based on the methodology of the system approach to regional development management.
The special attitude of scientists to the Far East began to form when the geostrategic importance of Russia’s Eastern edge territories was realized.
The regional policy for the development of the Far East during the establishment of the Soviet state was based on the scientific idea of N. N. Kolosovsky noted the importance of the relationship between the economic growth of the territory and the demand for local products from Northern Manchuria and Japan. The most important for the region and the Soviet state was the export of timber. Between 1923 and 1924, Far Eastern timber was exported to Japan and China. By 1925, 75 contracts had been signed with 24 foreign firms, and timber was exported to South Africa, Syria, Egypt and India. In 1926, timber exports were 15 times higher than before the war. In 1926 the region’s fish capture was 133.7% of its level in 1913. By 1928, the region’s economy remained chiefly agricultural: the price of agricultural production was about 70% of the region’s gross product (as cited in Istoriya Sibiri.., 1968).
At that time, Baransky (1926) defined the idea of creating large-scale industry in previously underdeveloped national districts
These times, the former unlawful policy towards the outskirts has come to an end. The needs of the outskirts are met not only as equally as with those of the centre, but also as reparation for the former - mainly in front of the needs of the centre. (p. 276)
The mechanism of state regulation of territorial development of the Far East became based on the theory of territorial location of production (Table 1), the implementation of which in the USSR was paid much attention by V. S. Nemchinov, the head of the Council for the Study of Productive Power of the AS USSR, Academy of Sciences of the USSR (CSPP). The CSPP studies argued the need for a general shift of the country’s productive power to the East (as cited in Minakir & Suslov, 2018).
The question of the location of production has been extensively researched by German scientists since the early 19th century. Three main factors of economic development were singled out: transport, labour and agglomerative effects. In defining a regional policy for the development of the Far East, the main factors in the location of production were labour and transport.
Fiscal policy was used as an economic method of regional policy for the development of the Far East. According to the Resolution of the USSR Council of People’s Commissars ‘On privileges for the population of the Siberian region’, the peasants “were charged off with the seed loan debt to the state in the amount of half a million goods (16 kg.) and tax arrears amounting to 300 thousand roubles were written off”. From 1924 onwards the single agricultural tax was reduced for all the far-eastern regions, except the Amur Region, where it was increased. While in 1926 the amount of tax nationwide was reduced by 40%, it was 52.1% for the Far East (Istoriya Sibiri.., 1968).
In 1930, two Decrees (a resolution of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and a resolution of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party on the economic development of the Far East) were enacted (Minakir, 2006). Proper terms and resources for developing a powerful military-economic ground of the country in the region were set out. As a result, by the early 1940s, the economy of the Far East was transformed into an industrial type economy.
A new research stage on the development of the Far East can be distinguished from the 1950s to the mid-1960s, which is characterized by the expansion of Nemchinov’s (1961) new scientific theory of the economic development of the region as part of the national economic business.
In the early 1960s, Nemchinov (1961) first defined an export concept for the development of the Far East, focused on cooperation with Pacific countries according to a state-run economy. Since 1964, this concept was given a political interpretation. Long-term compensatory agreements were concluded with Japan on the development of forest resources, coal and natural gas. According to them, these industries took out Japanese loans for capital requirements paid by the finished products from these industries.
In the late 1950s and 1960s, scientific research on the problems of the Far East was actively carried out by many scientific institutions of the country’s centre: the Central Economic Research Institute of the RSFSR State Planning Committee (A. N. Gladyshev, B. F. Shatalin), Council for Study of Productive Forces (F. I. Diakonov), the USSR Gosplan (N. M. Singur). The most important studies of this period include the research of A. N. Gladyshev, S. V. Slavin, A. B. Margolin, which were the foundation of the Resolution of the CPSU Central Committee, USSR Council of Ministers ‘On measures for further development of productive forces of the Far Eastern economic region and Chita region’ (Minakir, 2006).
A particular push to the development of the Far East between 1971 and 1980 was given by the beginning of the Baikal–Amur Mainline building. The mega project of the Baikal-Amur Mainline construction in the Far East required combining the creative forces of scientists from different branches of learning. New scientific divisions were run to study the resource potential of the region. The research was carried out in the divisions of the Far Eastern Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union, and then of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences of the USSR. The establishment of the Institute for Economic Research (IER) within the FESC (Far-Eastern Scientific Centre) of the USSR Academy of Sciences was a major organizational shift in the development of economic science in the country.
Since then, regional academic institutes provided the integrated study of large economic regions of the country and provided a theoretical and methodological foundation for such work. The organization of the IER made it possible to move from separate scientific applied works, carried out by actually isolated economic subdivisions of Natural Science Institutes, to systems research of urgent issues of development of the economic system of the Far East on the modern methodological and theoretical background.
In 1987, a long-term program for the development of the Far East and Trans-Baikal for the period up to 2000 was passed (LTP). It proclaimed economic cooperation with neighbouring Asia-Pacific countries as one of the ultimate goals of the region’s development (Dolgovremennaya gosudarstvennaya programma.., 1987). The program was designed and implemented within the established system of planned influences on regional development during the Soviet era.
The power of the program was in the fact that it was based on extensive planning research and development carried out in 1980 - 1984, while the drawback was that the mechanism of the implementation was predetermined by the limits of the current technology of inter-agency coordination and resource distribution. (Minakir et al., 2020, p. 328)
The scientific foundation of the program was the export concept for the development of the Far East developed by V. S. Nemchinov back in the 1960s, which envisaged export development with the neighbouring Pacific North-East Asian countries. V. S. Nemchinov’s concept
turned into a commonly used formula, and since then the idea of Pacific integration has been a keynote in all government documents concerning the economic development of the Far East and Trans-Baikal Region, particularly in the 1987, 1996 and 2002 programs. (Sidorenko & Tishutina, 2020, p. 244)
According to the academician P. A. Minakir, in 1986 “an attempt was made to proclaim a new model of the regional development, taking into account no guarantees of full state support” (as cited in Minakir & Naiden, 2021, p. 140). The reason was that the country had hardly had any investment resources left at that time.
The future of the Far East was related to the conventional resource-mining strategy of the development focused on the fast-growing sales market, the Asia-Pacific region. The Central government and academicians consolidated this idea together.
In the early 2000s, the theories of integrated development of productive forces in the Far East were replaced by those of spatial economics, which became the theoretical and methodological foundation for the development of new regulations on the development of the Far Eastern territories. The course of scientific discussions on the development of theories of the spatial economy is presented in detail in the publications of Minakir (2006) and Makar (2012). According to Academician A.P. Minakir, “Spatial economy is not a special trend of economic theory, but a theoretical shell that accommodates three forms of economic space, interacting in terms of general economic theory - global, national (sub-global), and regional (subnational)” (as cited in Isaev, 2020, p. 90).
Makar (2012) noted that the spatial review was based on combining the methodology of spatial economics, economic geography and regional science on the positions of the territorial paradigm.
From this point of view, the regional economic space is a territory accommodating many objects and relations between them. The key links of this theory in the social aspect are the model of concentration of economic activity on the basis of corporations, the appointment of those responsible for the localization of economic activity, as well as the situation of inter-regional inequality and its dynamics.
In the 2000s, the studies related to the modification of the sectorial and territorial structure of the Far East, forecasting and economic and mathematical modelling of spatial development, development and functioning of markets in the region, problems of natural resources use in the new economic conditions (Antonova & Lomakina, 2020), international economic cooperation in the APR was further developed.
Academician P. A. Minakir proposed the concept of new industrialization of the Far East (as cited in Minakir & Suslov, 2018), which was spatially represented as a system of two arcs, where the northern arc was a geographical area of concentration of activities to exploit efficient and competitive natural resources, and the southern arc (connecting economic centres in the south of the Far East - Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Blagoveschensk) was a place of concentration of high-tech processing industries and services, which complemented the concept of transnational transport and energy corridors.
Considering the concept of new industrialization of the Far East and due to the failure of the Federal Target Program for the Economic and Social Development of the Far East and Trans-Baikal Territory for 1996-2005 (1996), the state program was adjusted, extending it until 2010 and then until 2018. The purpose of this program was to create the necessary infrastructure and a sound investment climate for the development of priority sectors of the region’s economy, taking into account the geostrategic interests and security of the Russian Federation.
The program’s objectives included keeping the population in the region by maintaining and creating new jobs; lifting infrastructural restrictions on economic development at the regional level, and implementing a number of projects related to the development of engineering infrastructure and the social field.
All further editions of the Federal Target Program ‘Economic and Social Development of the Far East and the Baikal Region”, then the state program ‘Social and Economic Development of the Far Eastern Federal District” were also based on the theory of spatial economics (Gosudarstvennaya programma.., 2021). They were aimed at the development of priority sectors of the regional economy, taking into account geostrategic interests and the security of the Russian Federation.
Since 2014, managerial decisions to modernize the development policy of the Far East have been based on the theory of ‘growth poles’. The father of the pole-of-growth theory is the French economist François Perroux (Barr, 1999). His doctrine is based on the inequality of economic subjects, which is caused during the natural-historical process, results in dominant and subordinate economic units, and leads to asymmetry and, consequently, to the deformation of economic space.
One of the types of deformation is the polarization of space around the ‘growth pole’, which is based on the dominance effect. According to this polarization, the growth pole influences the space around it greatly, activating and changing it according to its own interests. This principle, according to F. Perroux, applies not only to individual economic actors but also to different sectors of the economy.
Economic growth centres have been established in the Far Eastern regions as part of the state program for the Social and Economic Development of the Far Eastern Federal District. According to the Russian Ministry for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, the constituent entities of the Russian Federation took their own decisions when determining growth centres. Economic growth centres mean the places of territorial localization of investment projects and the territories associated with their implementation (Postanovleniye administratsii..., 2019). Centres of economic growth in the regions of the FEFD have been determined depending on the investment projects, which are the basis of economic growth and employment. A total of 56 economic growth centres have been established in the regions of the FEFD.
The economic growth centres of the FEFD regions use a wide range of government incentives for regional development: state investment in the construction of infrastructure facilities, arrangement of territories of advanced socio-economic development (ASED) and Free Port of Vladivostok (FPV) mode, free trade zone mode in Magadan region, residences of “Far Eastern Hectare” owners (195 sotsialnykh obyektov..., 2018).
At the current stage of the Russian Far East’s development, the dialogue between scientists and policy-makers is still focused on developing a network of Advanced Socio-Economic Development Areas (ASEAs), implementing investment projects, developing transport infrastructure, and improving migration and demographic policies.
To summarize, we should note that in the Soviet era, scientific approaches to managing the socio-economic development of the Far East were focused on providing a policy of integrating the macro-region and its industries into the system of national economic planning, rather than as targeting the development of the Far Eastern territories. The policy for the development of the Far East was applied towards clearly defined territorial development priorities. It was the rise of underdeveloped outskirts in the 1920s and 1940s; the accelerated development of the eastern regions in the 1950s and 1970s; the development of territorial-production industries in the 1960s and 1980s.
Throughout the entire period of centralized management in the USSR, there were two simultaneous approaches to the planning arrangement: regional and sectorial. Despite the developed theoretical approaches and numerous directive attempts to create an effective system of coordinated sectoral and territorial planning decisions and management actions, numerous objective and subjective contradictions could not be overcome, and the problem of correlation between the provisions of territorial and sectorial sections of the Far East development programs was never solved.
Despite the fact that since the 2000s, the theoretical approaches to managing the development of the Far East have changed and become based on theories of spatial economics, the trend of integrating the Far East economy into the national priorities of the country has remained unchanged. Managerial decisions on the development of the Far East in the contemporary period are aimed at developing the region’s priority sectors of the economy, taking into account the geostrategic interests and security of the Russian Federation.
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03 June 2022
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Sidorenko, O. V., & Bulanova, M. A. (2022). Transformation Of Scientific Approaches To Socio-Economic Development In The Russian Far East. In N. G. Bogachenko (Ed.), AmurCon 2021: International Scientific Conference, vol 126. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 877-885). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2022.06.97