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Activities : Working Group on Inter-regional Cooperation and Development

Call for papers 2020

WG Programme Coordinators:

Barabashev, Alexey – National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russiaa, abarabashev@hse.ru

Andreeva, Lyubimka -  Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski”, Sofia, Bulgaria, lubima_@abv.bg

Annika Jaansoo,  University of Twente, The Netherlands, a.jaansoo@utwente.nl

The main focus is the concept of inter-regional cooperation and regional development caused by cooperation, its definitions and its rationale.

The aims of WG are to provide an analysis of history and contemporary practice of inter-regional cooperation, its management, its forms and administrative procedures, its social and cultural peculiarities, and the impact of inter-regional cooperation on the development of regions (including within the borders of one state, and international cooperation) that are involved in cooperative processes. The theories of regional development that is caused by inter-regional cooperative processes, according to the aims of WG IV, should be specified as theories of inter-regional development, which take into account the benefits, challenges, outputs and outcomes of cooperation.

One of the topics of WG is dedicated to opportunities and challenges of transport policy and infrastructure cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe. The common regional transport policy and common infrastructure cooperation are still under-evaluated today. Specifically, the development of transnational cooperation should act as a catalyst for the realisation of intelligent solutions that respond to the regional challenges in the area of transport.

The broad themes for abstracts/proposals and key shifts which we are keen to facilitate discussion around, include, but are not limited to:

• Administrative governance in inter-regional cooperation and development at European, national or International level;
• The role of the different stakeholders (national, regional and local governments; civil societies) in inter-regional cooperation and the development process;
• Strategies of inter-regional cooperation and development both within the EU and beyond;
• Sectoral inter-regional cooperation and development in the NISPAcee region;
• Transport management and management issues, driving forces of trans-regional and inter-regional cooperation in the regions. Monitoring, systematisation and grounding of EU directives and objectives for the development of transport systems;
• Situation analysis of opportunities, possibilities and challenges for transport policy and infrastructure cooperation, the regional transport network establishing, financing of the regional transport systems;
• Implementation of inter-regional cooperation and development, its challenges and outcomes, and evaluations;
• Best practices of inter-regional cooperation and development;
• Theories of inter-regional cooperation and development. 

The above mentioned fields of research and practices require participants to contribute to the theories and practice of the "Inter-regional Cooperation and Development" by including a variety of theoretical and practical data concerning the present and future development of inter-regional cooperation and development at all levels of governance (transnational, national, regional and local).

We are expecting final papers based on abstracts which address one or several of the above mentioned issues and have both theoretical and practical relevance, i.e. applicants should take into account and include in their papers, recommendations for better shaping of inter-regional cooperation and development, including points for practitioners and points relating to the EU and neighbouring countries and regions of NISPAcee, in relation to theoretic issues. Papers which are highly innovative, collaborative, international or multi-disciplinary are especially welcome.

Papers will be considered by the coordinators of WG against the criteria of originality, subject balance and geographical (NISPAcee area) spread. Papers should include:

- The names of the authors and their affiliation,
- Introduction, which clearly states the objectives of the paper,
- Description of the problem studied,
- The research question to be answered in the paper,
- The way in which the research question is going to be answered,
- Information about the case(s)/data to be analysed,
- Evaluation and policy implications,
- Conclusions and discussion about the results, and the recommendations for practitioners (this part needs to result from the previous parts of the paper).



Activities in 2019
Meeting of the Working Group on Regional Development & Inter-regional Cooperation

WG Programme Coordinators:
Lyubimka Andreeva, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Sofia, Bulgaria
Alexey Barabashev, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation
Annika Jaansoo, University of Twente, AE Enschede, Netherlands

Place: 27th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Prague, Czech Republic
Date:  May 24-26, 2019
The thematic of WG4 sessions was distributed according to 3 subjects:
Session 1: Sectoral, HR and Municipal Dimensions of Inter-Regional Cooperation
Session 2: Political, Regulatory and Benchmark Foundations of Inter-Regional Cooperation
Session 3: Legal Aspects of Inter-Regional Cooperation: From Policy Design to Policy Practice in the European Integration Context (ERASMUS+ Jean Monnet Project PRACTIC)

The discussions in the first session concentrated on different aspects of regional cooperation, including an overview of inter-regional cooperation of the electricity markets in the Balkans, as part of the process of creating a common energy market in the EU (Bulgaria, Lyubimka Andreeva), interrelations of best HR practices in Russian regions using regional cooperation platforms (Russia, Tatiana Zaytseva), and the cooperation of Lithuanian municipalities in the provision of public services (Arvydas Mikalauskas, Lithuania).

The second session was aimed at exploring inter-regional cooperation in a sub-national geopolitical context, including its key characteristics and usage of databases (Annika Jaansoo, Netherlands), Eurasian economic integration on the levels of digital integration and regulatory competition of digital economies of the EAEU countries (Alexey Yefremov, Russia), and horizontal ("flat”) HR integration, based on best HR practices’ exploration and distribution using in part, central (Russian Federal) government support (Alexey Barabashev, Russia).

The last session was constructed in two parts: the first part consisted of a presentation of the project (Martina Eckardt & Stefan Okruch, Hungary) resulting in analysing European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC, introduced in 2006) as a novel European legal tool for cross-border, interregional and transnational cooperation. It was analysed how far this legal instrument might contribute to interregional and cross-border development by using a novel data set at the regional level. The second part of WG4’s last session was dedicated to a discussion on future directions and plans for the Group’s activity in the coming year.

Activities in 2018
Meeting of the Working Group on Regional Development & Inter-regional Cooperation

WG Programme Coordinator:
Alexey Barabashev, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation

Place: 26th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Iasi, Romania
Date:  May 24-26, 2018

Two sessions were dedicated to the subject of regional development and inter-regional cooperation. Two major themes were explored in 5 reports:

•    Regional development in the context of strategy elaboration and quality evaluation;
•    The reasons for inter-regional cooperation at the municipal level and for best regional HR practices distribution.

The first session concentrated on the theme of regional development. The peculiarities of municipal strategic planning in Russia (report of A. Barabashev, co-author – S. Semenov) was discussed. It showed that a variety of Russian regions, their cultures and traditions, and social and economic conditions, are compensated by the standardisation of the federal legislation on strategic planning and the strict requirements of the procedures of preparation and realisation of strategic planning measures. As a result, strategic planning in the Russian Federation is transformed into a bulky bureaucratic process, with elements of a methodical arbitrariness and an abundance of control and supervising functions. At the municipal level, additional difficulties of strategic planning are encountered: dependence on subsidies of most municipalities; target funds which are allocated "from above"; multi-levelness of the system of municipal management; unevenness of the allocated resources and the considerable failure in financing the lower levels (rural settlements). Nevertheless, strategic planning in the Russian Federation in general is useful. It induces municipalities to extend their purposes and tasks, to proportion the allocated resources and results of their use, and to involve citizens in the processes of change.

In the last part of the article, how strategic planning is carried out in the city of Lyubertsy (The Moscow region) and in the city settlement Tutaev (Jaroslavl region) was described - two of the municipalities in which the empirical research was conducted.

In the report of A.M. Bercu (Romania) entitled "Study of the labour market flexibility in CEE countries” a question on the relationship between the labour market and economy effectiveness – "does it exist,” was asked. The general idea of the report was that it is possible to measure the level of cooperation between employers and employees in different countries. High values of cooperation, a sense of joint responsibility, and participation of businesses and citizens in decision-making brings profits.

Using the data from the World Economic Forum Report (2015), particularly from European countries, taking into account that the more presently active generation is now the "Generation Y”, and formalising the elements such as size and skills of the HR of the region, the author explored the level of flexibility of the labour market in salaries determination, and hiring and firing practices, etc. A table of the variations was presented. It was shown that cooperation is highest in Estonia (second Slovakia), and lowest in Romania (almost no cooperation and trade agreements, discussions, etc.). Romania was used as the main case of research. A.-M. Bercu argued that over the years, the level of cooperation in Romania decreased.
The main results of the research are: decentralising of negotiations to make the labour market more flexible.  Well-functioning cooperative relations between the free market and central state made the economy more flexible and effective.

E. Kalfova (Bulgaria) explored, in her report, the quality of governance and EU regional policy, evidence from Bulgaria; how the quality of governance impacting the implementation of EU policy was the focal question of the research. Using the definition of the quality of governance proposed by Kauffman, Kray, Mastruzzi (2009), as the combination of NPG + NPM concepts, the author used indicative analysis based on the indices of efficiency of regulations, civil society activity, corruption, and the voice of the people. The survey methodology consisted of the various levels.

Using indices such as WGI, EQI, LISI and macro-economic indices such as GDP per capita, unemployment, foreign direct investments, sectoral indices, such as quality of the roads etc., the linear regression was calculated.
The result of the research: 3 regression models show the importance of the quality of governance for the implementation of EU policy.

The Second Session, dedicated to inter-regional cooperation, concentrated mostly on two issues: cooperation of municipalities in the provision of municipal public services, and cooperation of regions in the elaboration and distribution of best HR practices of governance.
The report by A. Mikalauskas (Lithuania) used the case of this country to show that the cooperation of municipalities in the provision of services increases in some specific circumstances and decreases when such circumstances do not exist. The author began with a description of the present situation with population and municipalities (for example, the National Population Statistics show a decrease in its size from 3,693,700 citizens in 1991 to 2,810,118 citizens in 2017). The number of municipalities also decreased, as their inhabitants reduced. Now there are 10 counties and 5000 residencies in Lithuania.

The main idea of the author was to find the drivers for cooperation (intrinsic and extrinsic), to discover the goals (shared goals, maintenance of the status quo and forced by central government actions and destined to change the environment by external international actors). The analysis of the data shows, as A. Mikalauskas pointed out, that actors are acting mostly in favour of municipal political leaders. The next step in the research was to distribute the 5-degree agreement table questionnaire. In the main, replies to the questionnaire showed that cooperation is less preferable in the areas of energy and natural resources supply, and water and heating are lowest in the cooperation scale. The main conclusion of the research was that the effectiveness of the service, paradoxically, is higher in areas where the cooperation is less.

T. Zaytseva (Russia) explored cooperation as the distribution of the best HR practices in Russia. Using the results and data of a 3-year annual regions’ competition organised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Russia in quest of the best HR practices, the author clearly shows the positive impact of this competition and exchange of HR practices elaborated in different Russian regions on the improvement of regional governance. The creation of the pool of best practices has activated a new style of communication between the regional administrations of Russia, and their HR offices have involved more regional administrations, urban and rural settlements into an exchange of ideas, and has helped to find better instruments to improve the quality of services. Many statistics about applications (distribution) were presented. The number of participants in the competition has constantly grown from 122 (in 2015) to 214 applications (in 2017). Extension of the geography of the applicants and the number of municipal applicants is also visible.

To conclude, the WG sessions show the growing capacities of inter-regional cooperation, together with the distribution of the evaluation tools as an instrument for the improvement of regional development.

Activities in 2017

Meeting of the Working Group
WG Programme Coordinator:

Alexey Barabashev, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

Carolina de Stefano, Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy

Place:  25th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation
Date: May 18-20, 2017  

At the conference, 3 sessions devoted to the problem of interregional cooperation and regional development were held. To compare with previous fields of WG activity, the interests of researchers have drifted towards a broader understanding of regions and their development, including the level of countries as regions. Regional migration processes, development of strategic plans, other issues, including energy policy, fight against corruption, regional education of civil servants, and sustainability were at the centre of the scope. Local inter-regional cooperation, compared with previous NISPAcee conferences, was less popular with researchers. Such a shift can be explained as a consequence of a more turbulent administrative and political atmosphere in the NISPAcee region, and the necessity to find a new foundation for development and cooperation, based on diverged national interests.

Summaries of working group papers:

1. Migration, security, and the well-being of civil servants in the regions

-Complex actions undertaken both by the Russian Federation and Tajikistan, which helped not only to streamline migration flows, but also to find points of common social and economic interests for both countries.

-The statistics of in-Russia migration processes and the history of internal migration among Russian regions. The job attractiveness coefficients of the Russian regions were introduced and calculated. The programme of resettlement at the regional level was discussed.

-The online survey results evaluation (values, levels of satisfaction, goals and priorities), that was carried out in the Siberian Federal District for more than nine thousand civil servants.

2. Energy issues, EU Member States Mutual Assistance and Anti-corruption Policy

- The regulatory rules and electricity market conditions in Bulgaria in its historical development and present trends. The new model for the governance approach to electricity services and its effect on implementation was discussed.

-Description of the history and the present situation in cooperation between EU Member States. It has gradually been strengthened through expanding the subjective scope to new categories of public claims, establishing three separate cooperation forms, most notably the possibility to recover claims arising in one state by authorities of another state, and establishing separate institutional frameworks of cooperation. The present regulation concerning mutual assistance for the recovery of claims relating to taxes, duties and other measures was described.

-Description of new teaching programmes for Siberian Federal District civil servants targeted establishing anti-corruption (resistance for corruption) competencies.

3. Regional educational development and cooperation:

-The evolution of Moscow’s nationalities and federal policies in the years 1989-1993. The core argument of the presentation was the way Russian regions interacted with each other and with the political centre in the critical transition years of 1989-1993 and how they influenced the future and Post-Soviet evolution of Russian federalism. As a consequence, it also directly impacted Russian regions’ subsequent development.

-Analysis of the trends of their dynamics in production, employment, and incomes of the population in the Republic of Tatarstan on the basis of the introduced system of indicators of sustainable and safe development of the regional social and economic system.

- The analytical potential of the quasi-McKinsey matrix that is not limited by the elaboration of the collective stakeholders’ vision of the strategy of regional development. It was argued that it is possible to use the quasi-McKinsey matrix tool for the identification of regional clusters and for the elaboration of a cluster policy at the regional level.

Activities in 2016

Meeting of the Working Group on Regional Development & Inter-regional Cooperation
WG Programme Coordinators:

Alexey Barabashev, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

Pat Gray, London Metropolitan University, London, UK

WG coordinator assistant:

Diana Stirbu, London Metropolitan University, London, UK

Place:  24th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Zagreb. Croatia
Date:  May 19-21, 2016
At the conference, 3 sessions of WG-IV, devoted to the problem of inter-regional cooperation and regional development were held.
The topics of the sessions varied from cooperation at the country level, to inter-regional cooperation, municipal development and cooperation, and cooperation in some specific sectors (namely education).
On the topic of trends in cooperation at the level of Countries and regions:
Julia Kasperovich (Belarus) presented a report about the prospects of cooperation between Belarus and the EU. The author described the existing cooperation projects in terms of their economic impact, the enhancement of contact between peoples, capacity building and incentives. Political and internal risks of implementation of the projects were discussed.
Carol Leonard and Evgenij Pliseckij (Russia), in their presentation, concentrated on the problem of cooperative federalism, arguing this was impossible without establishing value chains and investments into communities. Russian regional cooperation leads to the transformation of some clusters of regions into mega-regions. Around a quarter of all Russian regions describe internal cooperation with other Russian regions as their top priority.

On the topic of Municipal development and cooperation:
Katarzyna Szmigiel-Rawska (Poland) described the results of a qualitative study of inter-municipal cooperation in Poland, based on data from 2840 municipalities. The hypothesis that co-operation would be based on a natural "union” of wealthy and pure municipalities on the basis of shared resource was investigated. Also, the nature of clusters of cooperation and two modes of cooperation, namely to receive resources vs. to share resources was discussed. A general index of collaboration was introduced and a slight decrease in its level between 2008 and 2015 was established.
Ilya Akishin (Russia) presented the results of a project devoted to the determination of the optimal size of staff at the municipal level in the Jaroslavl’ region of Russia. The principles and procedures of evaluation of the functions of municipal bodies and time-allocation of civil servants proposed by the author are used actively at the present time by several Russian regions.
Attilla Kiss (Hungary) provided a detailed account of the Hungarian results of survey research, which has been executed during the framework of the Danube Network on Training Experts for Public Administration (DANTE 4 PA) programme. The objective of the overall 'DANTE4PA' project is to strengthen administrative capacities at the local and regional level in the Danube Region by implementing a sustainable transnational capacity building approach on a region-wide basis.
Alexey Barabashev (Russia) discussed the problem of applicability of Quasi McKinsey matrix technology to elaborate strategies for regional and municipal development. The author proposed options for the successful implementation of the quasi McKinsey matrix (in the present Russian economic crisis conditions) only for municipalities that have their own resources and sources of income.

On the topic of regional educational development and cooperation:
Tatyana Zaytseva (Russia) presented research about the state of human capital at the regional level (Russian regions). The paper investigated the determinants of regional development associated with different human capital components.
Tatyana Chernyak (Russia) discussed the present situation in the training of managers in the regions of the Siberian Federal District. The author examined the training of some specific groups of public servants as one of the factors in the healthcare sector development (programme "Healthcare management”, 120 hours). An assessment of training was presented.

Activities in 2015
Meetings of the Working Group on Regional Development & Inter-regional Cooperation

Place:  National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Date:  October 8-9, 2015

WG Programme Coordinator:

Alexey Barabashev, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia


Seminar was focused on cooperative inter-regional projects; areas, forms and mechanisms of inter-regional cooperation; tools for the evaluation of regional development quality and for measuring the infl uence of cooperation on regional economic, social, innovative and civic indexes and indicators; and the social and cultural conditions of regional development. Over 14 reports and talks were presented by scholars from 6 countries: Italy, Finland, Russia, Hungary, the UK, and the USA. Russian scholars from leading institutions, including Moscow State University, NRU HSE, RANEPA, Tyumen University, and the People’s Friendship University shared their research projects which are concentrated on analyses of diff erent aspects of the regional diversity and complexity of modern Russia.

The presentations were published in the special issue of Journal "Problems of Public Administration” (in English), that is leading Journal in Russian Citation Index RINTS in Public Administration area.

Place:  23rd NISPAcee Annual Conference, Tbilisi, Georgia
Date:  May 21-23, 2015
WG Programme Coordinators:

Alexey Barabashev, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

Pat Gray, London Metropolitan University, London, UK

WG coordinator assistant:

Diana Stirbu, London Metropolitan University, London, UK

On 22nd of May 2015, the Workgroup V on Regional Development and Inter-regional Co-operation held a general session, and EU Panel during the proceedings of the NISPACEE Annual Conference (Tbilisi, Georgia). The workgroup’s main concern is to advance a research agenda concerned with patterns of regional governance, the effectiveness of regional development strategies in different context, and the merits of inter-regional co-operation. The 23rd NISPACee Annual Conference in Tbilisi offered the perfect opportunity for researchers and practitioners in the field to disseminate and discuss their research.

The purpose of this report to outline some to provide an overview the research work, the papers presented and outline the outcomes and the future plans of the Workgroup V. The EU Panel will be overviewed separately.

The general session of the workgroup was dedicated to the topics as:

complex development projects, as inter-countries transit of energy (case of gaz transit project through Afganistan)

evaluation of regional development quality on the base of ex-aunt procedures

Development of municipal HRM as condition for regional development.

Three presentations were made and 3 papers were received. The general session gathered 24 participants, which shows a clear and growing interest in the WG’s theme from researchers. The quality o the papers presented was extremely good and the session generated a lot of debates and discussions.

Dr. Fardin Hashimi (Kabul University) opened the proceedings with a paper on the problem of transfer of EU integration practice and theory on Central Asia inter-regional co-operation strategies. The paper highlights the limitations of functionalism theory proposed by David Mitrany (benefits for all participating in the cooperation countries, game with non-zero sum) in explaining the core problems for the realization of transit energy Central Asia projects. Realist theory that include political factors into cooperation explains the transit of energy cooperative projects better.

Alexey Barabashev (NRU-HSE, Moscow) concentrated his presentation on the ex-ante evaluation of strategies of regional development, proposing a new analytical tool to assist the process of regional development planning. Using the cases of Russian regions, the author shows that it is possible to re-shape the management derived McKinsey matrix, which was originally elaborated for risks evaluation for companies development, and to extend such a matrix on risks evaluation of the proposed strategies of regional development.

The last presentation, produced by Valeria Utkina (NRU-HSE, Moscow), discussed municipal reforms in Russia, and the impact of municipal service quality on cooperative inter-municipal projects. The author made recommendations on how to improve the municipal service for better orientation on cooperation, that is can be done in parallel with improvement of municipal services.

As the result of WG session, new proposal for future WG activity, including WG Autumn (2015) seminar, to take place in Moscow, and a special issue of the Journal "Problems of Public Administration” (published by NRU-HSE), was discussed.

To sum up, we assess the proceedings of the WG general session a a success. This allowed dissemination of high quality research, deliberation the future of regional governance and development research agenda, and shaped proposals for future impact led actives of the Work Group.

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