New Regionalism

Read Complete Research Material


New Regionalism

New Regionalism

The New System of Regions

The motivating force behind the renewed interest in regionalism is emerging from several sources. Syndicated columnist Neal Pierce and his colleagues at the City-states Group observe that the end of the Cold War had the effect of accelerating the globalization of a post-industrial economy. International trade agreements like NAFTA and the development of a European Community all demonstrate reduced economic competitiveness on a country-by-country basis, and increased competitiveness on a region-by-region basis.

A second challenge consists of achieving sustainable development. Around the world, population pressures are pushing against environmental capacity. Increasingly, we are trying to balance economic growth, with environmental preservation and social equity. Part of the solution requires acting regionally. After all, water basins, air shed, and commuter shed are all regions.

Finally, the US and several other countries are undergoing a devolution revolution. More of the policy making and service delivery functions mandated by federal and state governments are being directed to the local level. Many of these--transportation, air and water quality planning, and an increasing amount of social services planning--are required to be carried out at on a regional basis. Others are becoming regional on a voluntary basis.

In short, we are seeing the rapid emergence of a global system of regions.

The Regional System: What's new about the "new regionalism"?

These challenges are not transitory. They mark a major shift in the environment in which all sectors--public, private and nonprofit operate--and they call for invention of a new regional system.

Several scholars have begun to use the phrase "the new regionalism." They mean to contrast current experiments with the old regionalism, which generally refers to a varied body of theory and practice spanning the period from the 1880's to the 1980s. But what's new about this new regionalism? Let me briefly describe a set of six contrasting characteristics that I believe help define and distinguish it from the old regionalism.

Governance vs. government

First, the old regionalism was basically about government, specifically about how to insert a new layer in the hierarchy of state-local relations. By contrast, the new regionalism is about governance; that is, establishing vision and goals, and setting policy to achieve them.

The work of governance involves private, nonprofit and public interests. Moreover, it's not always the public sector that invites the other sectors in. Sometimes it's the private sector, as in the case of the Silicon Valley in California, that takes the lead. In other cases it's the nonprofit sector, as in Cleveland, Ohio, that initiates the regional policy dialog.

Emphasis on governance recognizes that ensuring the future quality of life and competitiveness of a region is a shared responsibility of all sectors. Moreover, it requires the shared powers and talents of these sectors working strategically to affect change.

Process vs. structure

The emphasis on governance suggests another characteristic of the new regionalism; it focuses significantly on process rather than on structure. The old regionalism spent a great deal of time looking at structural alternatives such as city/county consolidations, creation of ...
Related Ads