Dealing with the bust in Vorkuta, Russia
This article traces the governance path affecting the boom-bust cycle in the Russian Arctic city of Vorkuta as a case study examining the role of institutional capacity and informality in mitigating the consequences of the cycle. The analysis examines the usefulness of various tools, including planning, policy, and informality. It also investigates the role of different actors, including the national and local components of the state and private corporations. The conclusion provides a typology of formal and informal land use tools. Soviet planners failed to foresee the bust and did not make provisions for it. Subsequently, the failure of national and local state policies to provide full solutions, combined with the absence of sufficient investment from private sector corporations, opened the door to a broad-ranging informality that encompasses policy-making, individual entrepreneurship, and associated conceptions of individual actions in society. The Soviet/Russian experience differs from that of other countries because in the last 100 years it has run the full gamut from a planned economy to unbridled capitalism. In cross-national comparison, it demonstrates the potential value of informal practices in situations where there is weak formal institutional capacity.