I focus on the former Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance or CMEA) countries and examine the complex relations among (a) their attempts to move from state socialism to capitalism; (b) the formulation and implementation of proposals for supranational regional economic blocs, cross-border cooperation, and local economic strategies; and (c) the influence of various kinds of transnational, national, regional, and local agencies and governance mechanisms. This focus can be justified by the link between external structural adjustment and domestic restructuring in postsocialist economies and the complex spatial organization of capitalist economic relations. The CMEA's collapse has disrupted established regional linkages in the former Soviet bloc and opened opportunities for strategies oriented to greater subnational autonomy as well as supranational economic integrations. It has also left a legacy of interdependencies that constrain and limit the chances of successful integration into new regional economic systems even before one take account of the inadequacies of the policymaking and governance mechanisms developed so far to pursue these goals. In short, the forms and outcome of economic transformation will depend both on the local and regional dimensions of the emerging postsocialist economies themselves and on the position of different economic and political forces in relation to emerging postsocialist and/or capitalist regional blocs. In pursing this agenda the article first examines various discontinuities and continuities in Eastern and central Europe that bear on its economic transformation. It then reviews major changes in the capitalist economy into which some forces in the postsocialist economies are trying to become integrated. Given the complex dialectic between internationalization and regionalization involved in these changes, it then examines the problematic status of â��regionsâ��, proposes to interpret them as â��imaginedâ�� economic spaces, and notes some basic material differences between regions in postsocialist and capitalist societies. The discursive character of regions is further illustrated through a brief review of 10 different types of supranational regional economic strategies proposed for one or more postsocialist societies. Then the article reviews subnational strategies for regional cooperation and development in postsocialist economies. These general overviews of regional strategies are followed by some brief comments on specific countries, but no attempt is made a comprehensive survey of developments in every postsocialist economy. The article concludes with some general remarks on present trends and future prospects in regional economic strategies and developments within and beyond the postsocialist bloc. In particular, it identifies some of the most important factors inhibiting the successful realization of local, cross-border, and supranational regional strategies.
“The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, American Behavioral Scientist, 38 (5), 1995, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 1995 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the American Behavioral Scientist page: http://abs.sagepub.com/ on SAGE Journals Online: http://online.sagepub.com/