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Regional planning [90 kB] - Barents 2010

By Annette Hart,2014-05-16 19:04
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Partly through influence from work on the European Union Structural Funds the so called SWOT-analysis has become a very common instrument.

BASIC RECOMMENDATION FOR REGIONAL

    STRATEGIC PLANNING

A strategy for a region contains a number of different steps ranging from an analysis of local

    conditions and future challenges, to fairly detailed recommendation as to what should be done

    by whom and when.

Number of steps:

    ? Analysis of the region and the challenges facing it.

    ? Visions as to where we want to go from here.

    ? Priority making and the identification of strategic action, which can help us in

    realising the vision.

    ? Overarching goals for a wished for future situation.

    ? More detailed programmes guiding the actual implementation.

    ? Detailed goals for what actually should be done in the different programmes and

    measurable results, which can be evaluated.

It should be observed that there is an obvious, mutual inter-dependence between the different

    steps. The visions and the goals can, in other words, not be formulated without proper

    attention to the actual possibility to finance the measures within the prioritised areas. In

    Swedish planning there has often been a tendency that the strategies have turned into

    “wishing-lists” which make the planning exercise next to meaningless. The difficult thing in

    planning is thus not to decide what needs be done, but rather to decide what should not be

    done. The emphasis on priority making in Western European planning is obviously also

    linked to the belief that it is better do some things full, than doing a little everywhere. “Focus

    is a term which often is used in this connection.

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    -

    Barents 2010 Interreg III B Baltic Sea

Project Leader WP 1 Strategy and action plan, Magnus Wiklund

    County administration of Västerbotten

    S-901 86 Umeå

    magnus.wiklund@ac.lst.se

    Phone +46 (0) 90 10 73 60

    Mobile +46 (0) 73 808 73 60

    Fax +46 (0) 90 10 72 00

Analysis

    Partly through influence from work on the European Union Structural Funds the so called

    SWOT-analysis has become a very common instrument. It is based on an assumption that

    every region has to compete on a national (and international) market and to this end has to

    utilise its resources in an efficient way. There is then a need to identify the areas where the

    region is, relatively seen, strongest. This done through comparing local conditions to more

    general trends in the economy and by benchmarking the region against other regions.

S in SWOT then stands for Strengths. The question asked is: What in the region can be

    considered to be better standard than in other regions? Or (a little more modestly frased):

    where does the region have its relatively seen strongest position?

W stands for Weakness. Which to a large extent is the opposite of strengths, even if it also

    contains an ambition to identify critical weaknesses which, if mended, cam be turned into

    strengths (or at least: not prevention progress in other fields).

O stands for Opportunities. The process of identifying “Opportunities” is the action oriented

    part of the SWOT-analysis. Areas are listed in which it is both possible and advise-able for

    regional actors to do something.

T stands for Threats. As well as for “Weaknesses” this tends to be the opposite of the

    positive alternative. But also “Threats” is very much directed towards action. Conditions are

    identified which if not improved might in a dramatic way prevent or slow down

    development.

From the above it is obvious that the SWOT-analysis merely is a framework for how a more

    qualitative analysis can be presented in a pedagogical way. In order to reach any conclusion

    on what the SWOTs of a region might be there is then a need also to:

A regional analysis should not be limited to to-days conditions. It is often necessary to make

    estimates as to the future development in the economy or other socio-economic areas. In

    Swedish regional planning, future oriented analysis has traditionally taken a prominent role.

    Such pictures of the future situation are obviously especially important in period when, for

    instance, the economic structure of the country and the regions changes quickly. This was the

    case in Sweden during 60ies and the 70ies when agriculture and forestry was heavily

    rationalised and a huge urbanisation took place. Through long term prognosis as to future

    employment and population the supply of infrastructure and housing could be planned and

    some sub-optimal investments prevented.

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    -

    Barents 2010 Interreg III B Baltic Sea

Project Leader WP 1 Strategy and action plan, Magnus Wiklund

    County administration of Västerbotten

    S-901 86 Umeå

    magnus.wiklund@ac.lst.se

    Phone +46 (0) 90 10 73 60

    Mobile +46 (0) 73 808 73 60

    Fax +46 (0) 90 10 72 00

Visions

    The formulation of visions is that part of the strategy where the political leadership, with the help of experts, declares what they want the region to look like at a certain future date. It should be based on the SWOT-analysis but preferably be very focussed, pinpointing the areas where it is necessary to be succeeded. In Swedish planning the vision is often only a few sentences. From the vision the priorities of the next section flows.

Priorities

    In this part of the strategy those subject areas are identified in which action is considered to be most crucial to reach the vision. Priorities should not be too detailed but rather in general terms identify the essential development factors. It is always tempting to turned priorities into wishing lists of which we Sweden have many (and bad) experiences. Such behaviour is

    understandable from a political point of view, but makes the entire planning process next to meaningless. It is therefore essential that priority making takes into account the resources, which actually are available or can be mobilised. The planning process should therefore be arranged in a way which makes it possible to check the substance of the priorities against the programmes guiding the implementation. In practical terms this means establishing provisional priorities early in the process, whose realism is checked before the final priorities can be decided on; the planning process can other words not be linear, but rather accept a certain iteration between its different parts.

    The prioritised areas should preferably be of the character, where they will influence other actors (especially private entrepreneurs) to follow up with investments of their own. This constitutes constitute what in American planning often is called a “leverage” where limited

    resources over time influence the allocation of larger resources and where the size of this leverage actually heavily influences the priority making.

Overarching goals

    It is essential to all planning that the dimension of what is aimed for can be formulated in a rather precise way. The vision should, in other words, be translated into goals, which are formulated in a way that makes it possible to measure how well actual development contributes to the vision.

Implementing the strategy

    Implementation can take many forms. One way is that organisations in various informal ways follow the ambitions formulated in the strategy. This has in Sweden actually been the main avenue to influencing decision-making. Often this has been called “indicative planning”. This

    might very well be a fairly efficient way of working, but it is almost invariably difficult to ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -

    Barents 2010 Interreg III B Baltic Sea

Project Leader WP 1 Strategy and action plan, Magnus Wiklund

    County administration of Västerbotten

    S-901 86 Umeå

    magnus.wiklund@ac.lst.se

    Phone +46 (0) 90 10 73 60

    Mobile +46 (0) 73 808 73 60

    Fax +46 (0) 90 10 72 00

evaluate as it often is impossible to distinguish which parts of the

    decisions that actually takes its lead for the strategy.

    Another way is obviously that special programmes are formulated, where special resources are allocated to fill the ambitions with a factual content. This is typically what is done within the framework of the Structural Funds. It should however be observed that such programmes properly run will mobilise resources also from sectoral programmes, financed through regular sources.

    Whatever implementation is chosen, it is essential that action oriented goals are formulated which indicate “what should be accomplished, by whom, when”. In the best of cases it should

    be possible to link these sub-ordinate goals to the overarching goals, leading to the vision.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -

    Barents 2010 Interreg III B Baltic Sea

Project Leader WP 1 Strategy and action plan, Magnus Wiklund

    County administration of Västerbotten

    S-901 86 Umeå

    magnus.wiklund@ac.lst.se

    Phone +46 (0) 90 10 73 60

    Mobile +46 (0) 73 808 73 60

    Fax +46 (0) 90 10 72 00

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