46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean", August 30th - September 3rd, 2006, Volos, Greece
This work reflects the results from the cycle of research done in 2001-2004 for 20 Russian regions. At the end of it it was possible to generalize the regularities of the initial stage of transition which were characteristic for the Russian regions on their move from industrial to network model of economic development; compare Russian experience with EU core regions experience (the latter has started this way 20-25 years earlier, in mid-seventies). Typical features of this period are the increasing economic role of support sector and knowledge economy in the regional development, the increasing role of the mobile assets and footloose firms, gradual transformation of the industrial complexes into economic clusters, changes in typology of infrastructural networks (from vertical hierarchy to horizontal grid), etc. Regional authorities in every region abandon previous style of administrative commands and shift to economic coordination with the actors of the regional economy. There are expectations in the Russian regions that this transition will help to overcome economic and environmental limitations of the industrial paradygm which are evident in late Soviet period. The speed, intensity, and vulnerability of these transition are different among northern, central, and southern regions of Russia. Old economic ranks of the Russian regions of the industrial period has changed essentially. Cities-service centers have increased their importance; on the other side, role of big and small industrial cities and settlements have universally decreased. The most painful transformation is characteristic for the big industrial regions like Kuzbass (analogue of the German Ruhr). On the other side oil and gas regions of Russia are passing this transformation in easier way. But each Russian region has its own peculiarities in economy and social sphere which determine the trajectory and speed of transition.