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Theoretical and Applied Economics
Reference:

Urban agglomerations: functioning and methodological principles of development

Suvorova Arina

ORCID: 0000-0003-4050-2083

PhD in Economics

Senior Research Associate, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation

125468, Russia, Moscow, Moscow, Leningradsky ave., 49, -

suvorova.av@uiec.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8647.2023.4.68863

EDN:

AAUUUK

Received:

01-11-2023


Published:

09-11-2023


Abstract: Currently, the development of urban agglomerations is recognized as one of the key prerequisites for accelerating the economic growth of large-scale economic systems. The study is devoted to the conceptual foundations of this process. The author considers the logic of the organization and development of agglomerations; identifies the features of the functioning of agglomerations in modern conditions; studies the principles that should underlie their development. The work is based on the use of data from the Federal State Statistics Service, and its methodological base includes general scientific methods of theoretical and empirical cognition. It is shown that a significant aspect of the functioning of the agglomeration is the close relationship between its elements. The importance of this aspect is also proved by the results of the analysis of the functioning of the Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration, which is characterized by the redistribution of functionality between its constituent municipalities. The suburbs increase their importance as a place to live in and work, while the central parts of the agglomeration retain the role of a service center. As a result of the study methodological principles of agglomerations development are formulated: a differentiated approach to determining landmarks, mechanisms and institutions of transformation processes, institutionalization of the object, the systemic nature of space transformation, the absence of barriers of interaction between elements, the availability of a resource basis for development. The results obtained can be used in the activities of public authorities that determine and implement regional policy.


Keywords:

agglomeration, system of municipalities, spatial development, agglomeration development of the territory, economic growth, clustering of cities, Ekaterinburg urban agglomeration, territorial structure, principles of agglomeration development, regional policy

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

Introduction

The issues of transformation of the Russian space, traditionally of interest to both scientists [1, 2] and subjects of management processes [3, 4] due to the significant scale of the country's territory, significant differences between the parameters of the development of its individual parts and, as a consequence, the insufficient degree of connectivity between them, are of particular importance in modern conditions of aggravation geopolitical challenges that change the geography of economic ties and increase economic turbulence. At the same time, the support of polarized development can be considered the basis of the vector of transformations chosen in the country: in the Spatial Development Strategy approved in 2019, the prerequisite for "expanding the geography and accelerating economic growth, scientific, technological and innovative development of the Russian Federation" is called "socio-economic development of promising large centers of economic growth - large urban agglomerations and the largest urban agglomerations".

Indeed, agglomeration processes manifest themselves in Russian realities with increasing intensity, and urban agglomerations themselves may well act as promising poles of economic growth. This causes a significant interest of the scientific community in various aspects of their formation and development, determines the importance of assessing their impact on the socio-economic transformation of the country, individual regions, as well as settlements that are part of the agglomeration formations themselves; in addition, it leads to attempts to institutionalize such territorial systems (for example, by signing agreements between municipalities participating in agglomerations, the consolidation of agglomerations in regional and local strategies), the emergence of specialized expert communities (for example, the Agency for Socio–Economic Development of Agglomerations – ASERA). At the same time, it should be noted that in the Russian system of public administration agglomerations are still not full-fledged objects of regulation: the phenomenon of urban agglomeration itself is not legally fixed at the federal level, which complicates the differentiation of powers and functionality between power structures of different levels, one way or another involved in the processes of transformation of agglomeration systems, does not allow them to use specific development tools in relation to them (for example, facilitating the implementation of inter-budgetary transfers of the horizontal level in the interests of the implementation of joint projects by participants of agglomerations). Designed to remove some of the existing issues, the draft federal law "On Urban Agglomerations", proposed in 2020 for discussion by experts, was subjected to quite serious criticism and could not eliminate the gaps inherent in modern legislation.

Thus, the proposal of methodological foundations for the development of agglomerations that can find application in Russian practice is an important scientific task. This work is devoted to one of the aspects of this extremely extensive topic – the characterization of some conceptual provisions that can contribute to the design of these foundations. For this purpose, the study examines some aspects of the concept of agglomeration development of territories; on the example of one of the agglomerations of Russia, the peculiarities of the functioning of such structures in modern conditions are revealed; a number of methodological principles of agglomeration development are proposed.

 

Fundamentals of the formation of the concept of agglomeration development of territories

Studies on spatial clustering of cities were started back in the 1920s. [5] Over time, the search for answers to the questions of how the development of individual territorial units, their enlargement and interaction, can ensure economic growth, allowed scientists to form a whole complex of serious scientific theories, each of which made a significant contribution to the development concepts of agglomeration development of territories.

In this context, in particular, special attention should be paid to the theory of industrial placement by A. Weber [6], who, among the factors of placement of a separate enterprise, designated as an independent agglomeration factor explaining the economic feasibility of compact localization of producers, which is conditioned by the possibility of dividing part of production and marketing costs. It is also worth mentioning the theory of the economic landscape by A. Lesh [7], in which it was a question of structuring the economic space due to the concentration of industrial production functions in cities, caused, among other things, by agglomeration economy.

Within the framework of the concept of agglomeration by E. Lampard [8], emphasis was placed on the connection of such a phenomenon as the concentration of activity at one point in space with economic growth (which, according to the researcher, was determined by the "fusion of production and other economic functions with the city"), thereby emphasizing the cumulative nature of the development of the territorial structure of the economy. The importance of the concentration of production in cities for their economic benefits was also discussed in E. Hoover's theory of urban concentrations [9], according to which the geographical proximity of representatives of various industries, as well as enterprises of the same industry, significantly reduces the costs of their economic activities. H. Richardson called the accumulation of industrial activity in cities the main factor of their economic development [10]: he drew attention to the prospects of turning large industrial centers into growth poles not only of regions, but also of countries. In the works of P. Krugman [11] and P. Romer [12], the prospects for the concentration of production in certain areas, leading to a violation of spatial equilibrium and the appearance of agglomerations, were associated with an increase in the scale of economic activity and positive externalities that arose due to the presence of potential partners and competitors on the market.

An interesting explanation of the causes of agglomerations was given by J. Ellison and E. Glazer [13], who associated their appearance with the existence of strong random shocks that give rise to economic growth in some regions. In turn, the founders of the concept of new economic geography, M. Fujita, P. Krugman and E. Venables [14] called the key factor in combining individual territorial systems into a single complex increasing economies of scale (combined with the endogeneity of the placement of producers and consumers who can independently change their location to obtain the greatest benefits).

Currently, a significant number of interpretations of the term "urban agglomeration" can be found in the scientific literature. For example, G. M. Lappo calls agglomeration "a compact cluster of settlements, mainly urban, growing together in places, united in a complex multicomponent dynamic system with intensive industrial, transport and cultural ties" [15], a similar interpretation is followed by E. N. Percik, who defines agglomeration as "a system of geographically close and economically interconnected settlements united by stable labor, cultural, household and industrial ties, common social and technical infrastructure" [16]. The manual by E. G. Animitsa and N. Y. Vlasova speaks of "a compact and relatively developed set of complementary urban and rural settlements grouped around one or more core cities and united by diverse and intensive connections", in the space of which "fits the weekly life cycle of most residents of a modern large city and its satellite zone" [17].

In all definitions, the emphasis is on the geographical proximity of objects (settlements, cities) to each other, a high degree of their concentration; another significant aspect that all authors pay attention to is the close relationship (taking different forms) between the elements of the agglomeration. This, in turn, means that structurally the agglomeration cannot be considered as a simple set of settlements – it also includes territories located between them, while each of these territories has its own specifics, simplifying (or complicating) the implementation of interactions (for example, in the form of resource exchange) between settlements. Thus, structurally, an agglomeration usually includes a core (a large city) surrounded by belts (differing in the intensity of interaction, population density and density of the road network) of satellites (smaller-scale settlements) connected to each other and to the core by transport corridors (along which settlement rays are formed); the satellite zone is surrounded by a peripheral zone (suburban belt), the successive transformation of the boundaries of which is the result of the process of evolution of agglomerations, as a result of which the centers in the planning schemes acquire the functions of nodes – "counterweights" [18].

It should also be noted that despite the long history of considering the issues of agglomeration transformations initiated due to the close connection of the processes of concentration of resources and business entities noted by researchers (the result of which is the emergence of scale effects, localization, urbanization) with economic growth, many of their aspects remain controversial. Thus, the prerequisites that determine the conditions for the emergence and further development of agglomerations can be interpreted in different ways (which, in turn, makes it difficult to build a balanced policy for managing these processes). The consequences of agglomeration development can also be assessed ambiguously. For example, speaking about urban agglomerations, C. Leven [19] notes the undoubted advantages of their development arising from the possibility of obtaining economies of scale generated by the speed and maneuverability of communications both between them and between their participants; in turn, J. Chabot and J. Beaug-Garnier focuses on the threats of urban enlargement (leading to the emergence of agglomerations), on the scale of which it is extremely difficult to create a comfortable and manageable environment [20].

In this regard, it seems interesting to move from general theoretical provisions concerning the logic of the organization and development of agglomerations to considering how their functioning takes place in real conditions – one should turn to the example of one of the Russian urban agglomerations (further paying attention to how some of the aspects of its formation and transformation correlate with those provisions that can find application in the identification of methodological principles of agglomeration development of territories). 

 

Features of the functioning of agglomerations in modern conditions: the case of the Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration

The Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration is the largest monocentric agglomeration, the center of which is the capital of the Sverdlovsk region – the city of Yekaterinburg (the population at the beginning of 2023 exceeds 1.5 million people). Researchers talked about the existence of agglomeration links between Yekaterinburg and nearby settlements back in Soviet times [21], however, the first attempts to institutionalize it were carried out only in 2016, when the Giprogor Institute commissioned by regional authorities carried out research work on determining the principles of the formation of the Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration. To date, the design of the agglomeration has progressed even further: in 2020, 14 municipalities that consider themselves participants in the agglomeration system signed an agreement on cooperation (their composition is shown in Fig. 1).    

 

 

the core of the agglomeration

 

municipalities of the 1st agglomeration belt

 

municipalities of the 2nd agglomeration belt

 

a municipality (BUT), information about the development of which is not available among official statistics

Source: compiled by the author on the basis of data from the Association of Municipalities "Yekaterinburg Urban Agglomeration" (https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/6043752 )

 

Figure 1 – Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration

 

It should be noted that a lot of attention is paid to the analysis of the development of agglomerations both abroad and in domestic works: the authors assess the economic capacity of agglomerations [22], the degree of their maturity [23], the features of their spatial organization [24], etc. However, within the framework of the study, a deep analysis of the patterns of agglomeration development is not expected – the emphasis should be placed on identifying some features of its functioning, correlating a number of parameters of the development of municipalities that make up it (the evaluation period is 2022).

First of all, it should be noted a fairly high degree of polarization of agglomeration development: 72% of the population lives in its core – the city of Yekaterinburg, the agglomeration center also accounts for 62% of shipped goods of its own production, self-performed works and services, 67% of commissioned housing.

The core of the agglomeration differs significantly from its other participants in a number of relative indicators, primarily characterizing the development of the service sector and the quality of the urban environment. For example, the average per capita volume of paid services provided to the population of Yekaterinburg is more than 4.5 times higher than the value of a similar indicator calculated for peripheral municipalities (Fig. 2).

 

Calculated by: Database of indicators of municipalities // Federal State Statistics Service. URL: https://gks.ru/dbscripts/munst/munst.htm

 

Figure 2 – Average per capita volume of paid services to the population, thousand rubles

 

On the one hand, this can be explained by the difference in the monetary incomes of residents of municipalities that are part of the agglomeration (for example, the average monthly salary of employees of organizations in Yekaterinburg is 1.77 times higher than wages in Degtyarsk, the value of this indicator for which is minimal), on the other – the diversity and significant number of organizations providing various services, which are located in the central city.

Another striking example of disproportions is the ratio of the values of the average per capita retail turnover characteristic of the center and the periphery of the agglomeration (Fig. 3) – Yekaterinburg, in this case, is significantly ahead of the surrounding settlements (although it is not the leader in terms of the provision of residents with retail space). 

 

 

The boundaries of the quadrants are determined based on the average values of the considered indicators for the agglomeration

Calculated by: Database of indicators of municipalities // Federal State Statistics Service. URL: https://gks.ru/dbscripts/munst/munst.htm

 

Figure 3 – The ratio of the provision of residents of municipalities with retail space and the average per capita turnover of retail trade

 

It should be noted that there is no significant difference between the municipalities that are part of the first and second agglomeration zones according to these parameters. At the same time, the analysis of migration flows reveals some patterns that distinguish these groups of municipalities from each other. For all cities included in the first agglomeration belt, an influx of residents was observed in 2022 (the parameters of intraregional migration for them were also positive), while most municipalities of the second belt (as well as the core of the agglomeration) are characterized by the presence of migration loss (Fig. 4). 

 

 

Calculated by: Database of indicators of municipalities // Federal State Statistics Service. URL: https://gks.ru/dbscripts/munst/munst.htm

 

Figure 4 – Migration inflow (decrease) of the population, ‰

 

Such a movement of residents (including within the boundaries of the agglomeration) does not necessarily mean the loss of the attractiveness of the largest city (core) for life, rather, on the contrary, it is evidence of the implementation of the processes of suburbanization, reflecting the main pattern of development of the agglomeration – the redistribution of functions between its constituent settlements (those of them that are closest to the center, become a kind of "sleeping areas" for him).

At the same time, not only the population can move. Due to the removal of a significant number of industrial facilities from the territory of Yekaterinburg, its traditionally industrial nature of the economy is being transformed. Currently, the share of people employed in industry in the total number of employees of Yekaterinburg enterprises (adjusted for employees of small and medium-sized enterprises [25]) is significantly lower than the values of a similar indicator calculated for most of the other participants of the agglomeration (Table 1).

 

Table 1

The share of people employed in industry in the total number of employees

Municipalities

Share of employed in industry, %

Ekaterinburg

18,39

The first agglomeration belt

Aramil

45,55

Upper Pyshma

40,40

Sredneuralsk

29,20

Berezovsky

24,02

The second agglomeration belt

Polevskoy

45,98

Zarechny

43,23

Pervouralsk

39,28

Revda

37,67

Upper Dubrovo

32,32

Sysert

29,26

Beloyarsky

13,97

Degtyarsk

12,33

Calculated by:

Database of indicators of municipalities // Federal State Statistics Service. URL: https://gks.ru/dbscripts/munst/munst.htm

Unified Register of Small and medium-sized businesses // Federal Tax Service. URL: https://rmsp.nalog.ru/

 

The features of the development of the Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration identified in the framework of the analysis (related to the role that the core city plays for the agglomeration, with the redistribution of functionality between its participants and the increasing importance of the periphery as a place to live and work) largely echo the processes that researchers identify in relation to the transformation of large and largest agglomerations abroad – the withdrawal of large-scale industry outside the central part, the increase in the share of the service sector in the core, the intensification of centrifugal processes of expansion of urban areas [26]. This indicates the "embedding" of the considered agglomeration in the global trends of the development of such systems and makes it relevant to refer to the experience of its transformations in the designation of some methodological principles of agglomeration development of territories.

 

Methodological principles of agglomerations development

Despite the potential that agglomerations carry (as possible growth points of the entire national socio-economic system), their spontaneous, uncontrolled development can lead to the destruction of the spatial framework, a decrease in the level of stability of the functioning of settlements due to the aggravation of social, environmental and economic problems (the tightening of resources into separate localities entails the loss of large-scale territorial areas from economic processes, their further decline and degradation, as well as the deterioration of the functioning conditions of actors in the centers of attraction themselves). This necessitates the transformation of agglomerations from a socio-economic category (complexly institutionalized and developing according to its own laws) into an object of management, which, in turn, requires the definition of methodological principles of their development.

In the scientific literature, you can find a number of works devoted to the development of the methodology of agglomeration transformations of Russian territories. For example, in the article by N. N. Minaev and I. V. Volchkova, a conceptual approach to modeling the processes of managing the formation and development of agglomerations is proposed [26]. Its advantage is the identification of two specific processes associated with agglomeration transformations of territories: the appearance of agglomerations and their further transformation (which, obviously, involves the use of different sets of steps involving the regulation of these processes). At the same time, the algorithms of managerial actions indicated by the authors are of a fairly generalized nature (suitable for use in relation to various territorial systems), whereas it is taking into account the specifics of agglomeration formations that is of interest within the framework of the topic under consideration.

In some studies, the emphasis is placed on certain methodological aspects of the agglomeration development of territories, which it makes sense to take into account when implementing the processes of managing territorial transformations in Russian practice. Thus, V. V. Merkuryev and E. V. Myagkov conclude, based on the study of foreign experience, that it is impossible to develop a universal agglomeration management model, while emphasizing the need to take into account when conducting state policy aimed at stimulating agglomeration development, the stage at which the development of regulated agglomeration systems is currently at [27]. The importance of forming a methodological apparatus suitable for displaying the specific features of the development of agglomerations is highlighted in the study by a team of authors led by V. S. Antonyuk [28], N. I. Kuznetsov offers his own methodology suitable for these purposes [29]. Researchers are also interested in the issues of spatial organization of agglomerations, however, it is obvious that there cannot be a single methodology in this case – it makes sense to talk about choosing a specific methodological approach (for example, an approach to polycentric system development) for each agglomeration under consideration [30].

Unfortunately, in some works, the authors of which attempt to substantiate certain elements of the methodology of agglomeration development, the emphasis shifts to the disclosure of issues, although related to the formation of a number of conceptual provisions of the theory of agglomeration development, but not affecting the actual methodological provisions. For example, E.I. Eremeev, arguing about "improving the theoretical and methodological aspects of the development of territorial agglomerations in the northern regions of Russia" [31], stops at clarifying the conceptual apparatus of research on agglomeration transformations and identifying the distinctive features of such concepts as "agglomeration", "cluster", "territorial-industrial complex" and etc., without offering any theses that can enrich the methodology of agglomerations development.

In general, it should be stated that despite the significant contribution of researchers to solving problems related to the designated scientific problem, a comprehensive methodology for the development of agglomerations that can be reflected in Russian regional policy has not yet been formed. At this stage (the stage of formation of agglomeration policy), special attention should be paid to the development of those provisions that allow taking into account the specifics of agglomeration as an object of management, which allows paying special attention to several methodological principles.

The first of them is the principle of institutionalization. Considering the agglomeration as an object of management makes it critically important to measure it (which, in turn, implies an unambiguous delimitation of its borders, the development of a monitoring system of the processes characterizing it), as well as the formation of development institutions (entities responsible for activating positive transformations of the agglomeration, the rules by which they can carry out their activities). At the same time, the differentiation of powers and functionality between the governing bodies of municipalities that are part of the agglomeration, the subjects of the management system of urban agglomerations (coordination council, inter-municipal company, etc.), public authorities, as well as the "embedding" of the formed institutions, norms and rules into the existing strategic planning system, acquires particular importance. The example of the Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration is indicative: as noted earlier, its participants signed an agreement on cooperation. This means that the municipalities that are part of the agglomeration clearly identify themselves as its elements, are ready to discuss common problems and implement joint projects. This step – the manifestation of the interest of potential participants in communication, complex transformations – is a key stage in the process of institutionalization of agglomeration as an object.

Another important principle closely related to the previously mentioned is the principle of systematic development. In this case, we are talking about the systemic nature of the transformation of space. Agglomerations should be organically integrated into the spatial fabric of the country, macroregion and region, which makes it necessary to take into account the impact that the processes of transformation of agglomerations generated by management initiatives can have on the surrounding territories when developing these initiatives. On the other hand, the situation developing in the surrounding agglomerations can also have a significant impact on the measures that are required to solve the problems arising within urban agglomerations. In addition, the transformation of agglomeration into a full-fledged pole of growth on a macro-regional or national scale requires its integration into the spatial framework of the territorial system, its "completion" in order to function most effectively (for example, by creating smaller-scale agglomerations acting as counterbalance centers), as well as interfacing the development processes of participants in intra-agglomeration interactions. This means that regional and national strategic planning documents should not lose sight of emerging (or developing) agglomerations, not only at the goal-setting stage, but also at the planning and programming stage. In the case of the Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration, this principle is partly implemented by taking into account the agglomeration processes associated with its functioning in the policy pursued by regional authorities. Thus, the Government of the Sverdlovsk region is currently working on the formation of a long-term comprehensive plan for the development of the agglomeration, taking into account both its place in the development of the region and the role of each of its constituent municipalities in agglomeration processes.

The third principle is the principle of the absence of barriers. The emergence of agglomeration effects is possible only if there are conditions in the system for the free flow of resources between its individual elements, for their integration in the interests of solving common problems, maximizing the benefits and advantages received. The significance of this principle is confirmed by the results of the analysis of the peculiarities of the development of the Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration, which made it possible to identify emerging trends towards the redistribution of functionality between individual municipalities, the creation of prerequisites for their specialization within the system – all this requires simplification of interterritorial movements, acceleration of resource, information and other flows. At the same time, this principle concerns both institutional constraints and physical (in particular, those that can be eliminated through the development of transport infrastructure), as well as socio-economic (for example, associated with a high degree of differentiation of conditions that develop in different settlements that are elements of agglomeration) barriers.

The principle of a differentiated approach to the development of agglomerations involves taking into account the individual characteristics of each particular agglomeration (if there is a common methodology for their development, some aspects of which should be fixed in the state policy of regional development). Agglomerations, even developing in the space of one country (one region), can differ very significantly from each other (by the specifics of the territorial organization, size, level of formation, etc.), which does not allow using a unified approach to their management (each case requires separate consideration), although some best practices and experience of development are similar in their own the characteristics of the systems in the context of working out the policy directions for regulating agglomeration transformations deserve attention and reflection.

The fifth principle – the principle of having a resource basis for development – is due to the fact that any management process (the implementation of a set of measures aimed at the development of the system) requires the involvement of a sufficient amount of resources (labor, financial, temporary), which in the context of regulating the processes of transformation of agglomeration systems can become a non-trivial task due to the lack of managerial experience in the field of regulation of agglomeration systems among management entities (burdened by the uncertainty of the powers available in this area at structures of different levels), as well as the difficulties of redistributing financial resources between the budgets of entities interested in the development of agglomeration. In some cases, even in the current conditions characterized by the absence of tools formally fixed by state authorities and simplifying these processes at the intra-agglomeration level, it is possible to use mechanisms that allow forming a resource basis for the implementation of inter-municipal projects. Thus, an example of the implementation of such a project within the Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration is indicative – the construction of a tram line connecting Yekaterinburg and Verkhnyaya Pyshma. Its successful completion was made possible by the conclusion of a tripartite agreement between these municipalities and the region, which provided for the targeted pooling of funds from different budgets. At the same time, it should be recognized that such examples are rather an exception to the rule – it is necessary to form tools that are convenient for use for agglomerations participants, simplifying the formation of a resource basis for solving joint problems by them.

 

Conclusion

The growing interest in urban agglomerations as promising centers of economic growth, observed by representatives of the scientific sphere and structures that manage territorial transformations, actualizes the identification of theoretical and methodological foundations of agglomeration development, the search for mechanisms and tools that contribute to the transformation of such structures into activators of the effective activity of economic systems of different levels.

Despite a significant amount of research contributing to the development of the concept of agglomeration development of territories, many aspects of the formation and functioning of agglomerations remain controversial, which, in turn, prevents the formation of a competent organization of their management system. In this regard, of particular importance is the development of methodological principles for the development of agglomerations, which should be based on the idea of the integrated development of their elements. The conducted express analysis of the functioning of one of the Russian agglomerations (Yekaterinburg) showed that the processes of suburbanization, transformation of the economic structure of cities, as well as the presence of interterritorial imbalances determine the high importance of the possibility of unhindered movement of subjects, resources and information in the agglomeration space, the importance of interaction of individual actors with each other in the interests of systemic transformation of both themselves and the surrounding space. Consideration of successful cases of solving some of the difficulties that arise during the functioning of the Yekaterinburg agglomeration also allowed us to conclude that in the context of managing the agglomeration process, it is necessary to take into account the importance of institutionalizing its object (i.e. agglomeration), as well as understanding the tools for forming the resource basis for the implementation of this process. At the same time, strategic guidelines and tactical approaches to the implementation of transformations of agglomeration systems should not be unified: each agglomeration has its own specifics, which must necessarily be taken into account when building the trajectory of its development.

The proposed methodological principles can form the basis of an approach that has applied significance and can be applied in Russian practice, for example, when building a balanced regional policy. At the same time, the issues of managing the processes of formation and functioning of agglomerations deserve further disclosure, in particular, a promising area of research is further clarification and addition of methodological principles of agglomerations development, development of methodological tools for a comprehensive assessment of agglomeration processes, as well as the proposal of an organizational and economic mechanism for their effective implementation.

 

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The subject of the study. Based on the title, it seems possible to conclude that the article should be devoted to the peculiarities of the functioning and methodological principles of the development of urban agglomerations. The content of the article corresponds to the stated topic. The research methodology is based on the analysis and synthesis of data, including numerical data in terms of characteristics of municipalities of the Sverdlovsk region. It is valuable that the author has carried out a large number of calculations that make it possible to draw many meaningful conclusions. The relevance of the study of issues related to the study of the functioning features and methodological principles of the development of urban agglomerations is beyond doubt, because regional development and the development of the Russian Federation as a whole depend on how well the socio-economic development of municipalities is ensured. A potentially scientific article on this topic should be in high demand from a wide range of readers due to the fact that the issues under consideration are in the focus of attention of a large number of researchers and interested persons, including representatives of state authorities of the Russian Federation, state authorities of constituent entities of the Russian Federation and municipal officials. Moreover, the contribution of the development of municipalities to the achievement of the national development goals of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2030 is traced. Scientific novelty is present in the materials submitted for review. In particular, it may be related to the peculiarities of the functioning of agglomerations in modern conditions. At the same time, the author is recommended in the conclusion of the relevant paragraph to formulate a brief list of features, the content of which is set out in the text of the paragraph. Style, structure, content. The style of presentation is scientific. The structure of the article has been formed by the author. In general, it can be used to reveal the stated topic. Familiarization with the content allows us to conclude about the great work done by the author. At the same time, in the introductory part, the author says that "the proposal of methodological foundations for the development of agglomerations that can be applied in Russian practice is an important scientific task." Unfortunately, this task was not solved in the text of the article. Presented by the author "methodological principles..." questions arise, at least from the position that the principles relate a priori to the methodology, but the set of recommendations indicated by the author is not principles. Moreover, how does this text relate to the analysis carried out above? How can these "principles" be used in practice? It would be interesting to show this. This will ensure the internal unity and logical connection of the individual elements of the article. Bibliography. The author has compiled a bibliographic list of 25 sources. It is valuable that the author relies not only on the works of foreign researchers, but also domestic ones. Positively characterizes the scientific article and the accounting of publications published in 2023. At the same time, there are no sources in the list of references that contain numerical data used in the preparation of the article. Appeal to opponents. Despite the generated list of references, it was not possible to find a scientific discussion on the issues proposed by the author for discussion. When carrying out the revision, the author is recommended to pay special attention to the elimination of this remark, as this will make a positive contribution to the strengthening of scientific novelty. Conclusions, the interest of the readership. Taking into account all the above, it seems possible to conclude that the author has chosen an actual research topic of interest to a wide range of people, including officials of public authorities, analysts and teachers. After the elimination of the comments indicated in the text of the review, the article can be published.

Second Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The subject of the research of the reviewed article is urban agglomerations, considered in the context of the peculiarities of their functioning and the study of methodological principles of development. The research is based on the generalization of literary sources on the research topic, visualization of the initial data and research results. The authors attribute the relevance of the work to the fact that highlighting the proposal of methodological foundations for the development of agglomerations that can be applied in Russian practice is an important scientific task. The scientific novelty of the reviewed study, according to the reviewer, consists in generalizing the concepts of agglomeration development of territories, in identifying the features of the functioning of such structures in modern conditions using the example of one of the agglomerations of Russia. The following sections are structurally highlighted in the article: Introduction, Fundamentals of the formation of the concept of agglomeration development of territories, Features of the functioning of agglomerations in modern conditions: the case of the Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration, Methodological principles of agglomeration development, Conclusion, Bibliography. The authors consider studies on the spatial clustering of cities since the 1920s, in particular the theory of industrial location by A. Weber, the concept of agglomeration by E. Lampard with an emphasis on the concentration of activity at one point in space with economic growth, an explanation of the causes of agglomerations by J. Ellison and E. Glazer, as well as modern interpretations of the term "urban agglomeration". It is noted that in all definitions, the emphasis is on the geographical proximity of settlements and cities to each other, a high degree of their concentration, and the close interrelationships between the elements of the agglomeration. The publication examines in detail the Yekaterinburg urban agglomeration, presents the results of calculations to determine the ratio of the provision of residents of municipalities with retail space and the average per capita retail turnover in the settlements of the agglomeration in question; characterizes the migration influx (decrease) of the population in the context of the settlements of the agglomeration; shows the share of people employed in industry in the total number of workers directly in Ekarinburg, as well as in settlements of the first and second zones of the agglomeration. The article formulates five methodological principles for the development of agglomerations, and in conclusion it is noted that they can form the basis of an approach that has practical significance and can be applied in Russian practice, for example, when building a balanced regional policy. The bibliographic list includes 31 sources – publications of domestic and foreign scientists on the topic of the article, to which there are targeted links in the text confirming the existence of an appeal to opponents. Among the suggestions for improving the design of the publication, it should be mentioned the expediency of placing a bibliographic description of the sources of the analyzed data not after tables and figures, but in the list of references with references in the text. The article corresponds to the direction of the journal "Theoretical and Applied Economics", contains elements of scientific novelty and practical significance, may arouse interest among readers, and is recommended for publication.
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