When development is more on the spatial dynamics

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Last updated: February 27, 2019

When the discipline ofregional development emerged in the 1950s it had a strong economics basis and afocus on what firms did in regions and how their performance influenced a rangeof economic indicators i.e. employment, profit, GDP and growth. Towards the endof the 20th century, regional development became far more multi-disciplinary inits approach.

Political science, public policy and sociology became criticaldisciplines alongside economics focusing more on the notion of what a regionmight be and how a range of factors  notjust economic but shaped the idea of a region. RegionalDevelopmentA region is a basicunit of study in geography, a unit of space characterized by a feature such asa common government, language, political situation, or landform. A region canbe a formal country governed by political boundaries, such as France or Canada;a region can be defined by a landform, such as the drainage basin of all thewater that flows into the Mississippi River; and a region can even be definedby the area served by a shopping mall. Cultural regions can be defined bysimilarities in human activities, traditions, or cultural attributes.Geographers use the regional unit to map features of particular interest, anddata can be compared between regions to help understand trends, identifypatterns, or assist in explaining a particular phenomenon.In the 21st centuryeconomic geography has joined the disciplines and the focus of regionaldevelopment is more on the spatial dynamics of regions as places to live, workand invest. The focus for the discipline is just as much on people as driversof regional development as smoke stack industries, regional developmentagencies and firms.

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People with their knowledge and where and how they use thatknowledge is a key focus for research in regional development. In mostcountries of the world, different geographical areas are not endowed the sameway. While some areas are blessed with some category of resources, others arerich in other types of treasure. These resources, which are material and human,also vary in stock from one place to another. Hence some areas tend to grow anddevelop at a higher rate, at the expense of others. The resultant effect ofthis is overconcentration of activities and its attendant problems ofpopulation explosion, congestion, housing shortage, environmental problems, etcin the favoured areas or cities, and underdevelopment or backwardness in theless privileged areas. If the trend continuesunchecked, it will not only amount to social injustice and inequity to someclass of people or areas but also constitute a setback to regional and overallnational development.

RegionalPlanningRegional planning helpsto identify areas where excess labour force is concentrated and those areaswhere resources are under-utilized, with a view to striking a balance andpromoting not only aggregate growth of the national economy but also spatialequity and equality. It can also be defined as a formal process of spatiallyordering human activities for the purpose of ensuring spatial equity andgeneral progress in socio-economic welfare terms.It is clear then thatregional planning depends in large measure on the political and economiccontexts within which it is undertaken. In relation to the dimension ofcontrol, the difference between a fully socialized economy (as in someCommunist states) or a fully government directed one (as in some wartimeconditions), and an economy where government or social direction was minimal,would be critical in enabling or excluding forms of regional planning. Thepurposes of interest here are those relevant to a political economy of the kindnormal to Europe now, and to, in varying degrees, most other developedcountries.The primarypurpose is deciding on the general distribution of new activities anddevelopments.

This is necessarily indicated on some map base, but the scale ofregional planning and other considerations will dictate the level of detailgiven in showing, for example, new settlements, areas of commercial andeconomic development, placing of linear or other major infrastructure. The timescale planned for may also vary considerably, although at this scale a minimumof ten years from the expected date of completion of the plan is normal. Inrecent years this has often been extended by ten or even 20 years. This is the concern of regional pl anning which is aimedat;-         Correcting lopsideddevelopment –         Promoting regional andnational development through the identification, analysis, and allocation ofresources within and among region of a state or country.


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