Strategic planning practices in North- West Russia: European influences, challenges and future perspectives
Soviet command and control system, strategic planning was not practiced at the city level, as independent local planning and financing was not permitted. Responsibility for urban development was granted to the state authority, which had competence to implement and coordinate national urban development policies. Urban development was managed exclusively from the outside. General settlement schemes and general plans, which determined the spatial allocation of settlements, enterprises, services and recreation zones, were designed and approved by central government before being passed down for territorial implementation. Cities and municipalities were not considered economically independent administrative units and therefore public consent for implementation of externally drafted strategies was not required. As mentioned by Stead and Nadin in Chapter 7, St Petersburg has been something of a pioneer in the field of strategic planning in Russia, working with international partners to develop its first Strategic plan in 1997. The St. Petersburg experience later inspired a significant number of other regions and municipalities of the Russian North-West to proceed with similar initiatives. The term NorthWest in this context refers to the North-Western Federal District (NWFD) of the Russian Federation. It is one of the seven federal districts of Russia, which consists of the northern part of European Russia and contains nearly 10 per cent of the national population at approximately 13.5 million (North-West Federal District 2009). The NWFD consists of 11 political subdivisions (regions): Arkhangelsk Oblast, Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Kaliningrad Oblast (with no land connection to the rest of Russia), Republic of Karelia, Komi Republic, Leningrad Oblast, Murmansk Oblast, Novgorod Oblast, Pskov Oblast, Federal City of Saint Petersburg, Vologda Oblast. The federal districts are an administrative level made up of different regions, operating for the convenience of the Federal Government. The NWFD is fifth out of seven federal districts in terms of GDP, producing 10 per cent of national GDP, although it is third out of seven in terms of GDP per capita. The NWFD also has the highest degree of urbanization in Russia with 82 per cent of the population classed as urban across the 1836 municipalities of the District. The City of Saint Petersburg historically has been the main centre in Russian North-West, making it the recognized centre of the Federal District. In the next section the current situation with regards to strategic planning in North-West Russia will be discussed. This will be followed by an outline of some of the challenges, and the roots of these challenges, to the effective application of strategic planning. The chapter will then consider the extent to which new planning communities and networks are emerging in decisionmaking arenas with particular reference to the concepts of ‘epistemic communities’ (Haas 1992) and ‘communities of practice’ (Wenger 1998). On the basis of this discussion, four organizational approaches to strategy and policymaking will be identified within the Russian context, as well as an assessment of the implications of these approaches for these communities and networks before some final conclusions are drawn on the future of strategic planning in Russia.