The Growth Poles Strategy in Regional Planning: The Recent Experience of Greece

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

The growth pole strategy has ruled the field of policy practice at an international level for many decades, since the beginning of the 20th century and most specifically after World War Two. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, industrialized and developing countries alike applied the growth pole concept in their urban, regional, and national development planning. After an almost twenty year's period of reaction (late 1970s and 1980s) on the growth poles 'dogma', the growth poles process has been evolved, during the last two decades.

In recent years, there has been an attempt to stimulate the developmental role of urban centres in Greece in the context of regional and spatial planning. In essence, through the recent basic programming texts for the periods 2000-2006 and 2007-2013, the growth poles strategy has once again been exploited as part of the development programming. This paper attempts to describe the new growth poles strategy through the regional and spatial planning, within the programming framework of the European Union Cohesion Policy for Greece, and to present the ensuing problems, as well as the emerging capabilities of planning regarding growth poles in Greece.

The paper is organized as follows. The second section provides a literature review on the dominant regional development strategies that of growth poles and integrated development strategy. The third section provides a historical review on the formation and implementation of the growth model in Greece. The analytical comparative presentation of the regional development programming and strategy for strengthening the growth role of cities in the 3rd and 4th programming period is concluded in the fourth section. Finally, the fifth section summarizes the findings to provide some conclusions, regarding the ensuing problems, as well as the emerging capabilities of the growth poles strategy implementation in Greece.

2. STRATEGY AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT MODELS: GROWTH POLES AND INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT

The formulation of regional development strategy is a basic requirement for the successful implementation of regional programming. A constitutive element of this strategy is the selection of the spatial or regional development model. Internationally, there are two dominant models: the growth poles and diffusion model, and the model of integrated--local--endogenous development. The first perspective refers to the attraction of activities and the concentration of growth in poles, from where the diffusion of growth is expected to occur towards the surrounding region (Perroux, 1955; Aydalot, 1965; Boudeville, 1968). The second model refers to the integrated spatial development, which is based on the utilisation of the endogenous potential of the regions (Coffey and Polese, 1985; Barquero, 1991; Garofoli, 2002).

The strategy, that is based on the growth poles model, has ruled the field at an international level since the beginning of the 20th century, most specifically after World War Two, and it constituted a 'dogma' in the development of economies throughout the world. Most of the regional development policies and theories of that period were based on the main hypothesis of the almost complete identification of industrialisation with enlargement and growth. The major objective has been the increase of the industrial product and the concentration of development in large urban centres (growth poles), which had the necessary prerequisites (i.e infrastructure, external economies, labour force, market, etc.) for the attraction and operation of large industrial complexes--propulsive industries (Lasuen, 1969). Thus, the concept of "top-down" intervention prevails, which means that state intervention should be intense through the means of regional policy, so as to boost the process of concentration and diffusion of growth from the pole out to the other areas (Hadjimichalis, 1992; Christofakis, 2001).

On a theoretical level, the explanation of regional disparities by Myrdal (Cumulative Causation) as well as the concentration and dispersion theories, as mainly expressed by Christaller (central place), Perroux (enlargement poles) and Boudeville (growth poles), have greatly supported the formation of the growth poles and diffusion model (Rodrigue et al. …