Thesis: Addressing Regional Inequality: A Study on Regional Planning in Indonesia
The research investigates how regional planning policies impact the geography of uneven development in Indonesia. Specifically, an investigation will be carried out to explain the relation between clustering policies adopted by the country’s National Spatial Plan (NSP), through the stipulation of the National Strategic Areas (NSA) over the areas with high economic potential, and the economic growth across the regions.
In doing so, the research is using the Evolutionary Economic Geography as its theoretical framework. The research hypothesis is that the institutional setting, in the forms of spatial policy, is of importance in determining the changing economic geography in Indonesia. The institutional setting, in particular in the context of less economically developed countries (LEDC), is considered pivotal for regions to avoid the negative lock-in in path dependence.
The NSA has been adopted since the stipulation of the first National Spatial Plan in 1997, which was then revised in 2008. Such policy implies that significant support from the national budget has to be provided in the economically prospective areas where the policy takes place. The areas with high economic potential are expected to be the engine of economic growth for their surrounding areas, thus changing the economic geography of the country. Interestingly, research on this direction has been limited.
The research will focus on three main objectives:
1. To situate economically prospective clusters within the geography of uneven development in Indonesia.
2. To account for the extent to which clustering policies adopted have either inhibited or promoted regional inequality across Indonesia.
3. To suggest policy alternatives for improving the efficacy of clustering policies in reducing regional inequality.
Why my research is important
Theoretically, the research will contribute to the enrichment of the literature on EEG. Since the exploration of the path dependence concept in EEG mostly revolves around small clusters of high-technology areas located in the more economically developed countries (MEDC), the current study extends the concept in the context of LEDC. The research also provides empirical evidence on the role of institutions in regional development. In this way, the research may be contributing to widening the focus of most empirical research on EEG in the role of firms in the evolution of the capitalist space economy.
Contextually, the research provides new insight on the role of regional policies in reducing regional inequality. Few studies have been conducted into the history and role of spatial planning in the development of Indonesia, and therefore the research fills a notable gap in the literature. Those studies that have been undertaken on regional inequality tend to discuss the role of macro-level policies without considering regional policies adopted by both national and local governments in Indonesia. This research therefore adds to the literature by given detailed consideration to the geography of uneven development, and the role of policy in this.
Additionally, the policy impact of this research is obvious.