New Regionalism Approach for Improving the System of Spatial Development Management in Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


shahid beheshty university


Extended Abstract
The spatial development management in Iran is not well integrated and thus, manifested in the chaotic and somehow win-lose competitions within the regions. This result in inefficient use of resources and regional disparities. Overcoming this hurdle needs new solutions which are encountering with challenges relating to the contextual capacities in public sector and civil society as well as lack of legal institutional arrangement for the spatial integration at regional scale. It should be taken into consideration that nowadays, Iran’s national resources (i.e., oil revenues as the most important national source) are dwindling and consequently, the regional resources ought to be relied more than past.
The system of spatial development management in Iran is not opt for fulfilling this new role. In this regard, finding new approaches to improve the spatial development management in Iran, will contribute to better regional resource mobilization which is discussed in this article.
The aim of this article is to study the new regionalism approach and to investigate its applicability in the spatial management system of Iran. Therefore, firstly the shortcomings of spatial management system of Iran in three interrelated contexts of appropriate capacities among managers, experts and citizens towards the integrated spatial management are analyzed. Then, each of the existent plans and programs and the related regional decision making institutions in Iran is studied. Considering this, next, the spatial loopholes at the regional level which are not covered by the said plans and programs are recognized and the statuary deficiencies are identified. Next, the new regionalism approach is explained and the possibility of its application to cover the shortcomings in the spatial management system of Iran is deliberated.
The research method is based on analyzing secondary data and formal related documents about Iran’s spatial management system. In addition, the academic sources with regard to spatial regional development have been reviewed to provide the theoretical framework for the problems.
Findings and discussion
New Regionalism is an approach which recognizes certain regions capable of cooperation and integration among their intra-regional institutions in pursue of political, socio-economic, cultural, and environmental synergies. New regionalism attempts to reduce the political dispersion (if not confrontation) of regional stakeholders. Considering the status quo, these attempts may include a spectrum of preliminary to radical actions. As a matter of fact, new regionalism should be implemented step by step to ease the resistance to change as well as to give it time for tailoring the most appropriate institutional arrangement. Voluntary cooperation among municipalities and specialized institutions for pooling resources to provide regional services and/or collective industrial projects is a good start. These will set the stage for further integrations over time.
In Iran like other developing countries, for implementing and sustaining the process of new regionalism formation, of critical importance is good regional governance based upon democratic decision making, rule of law, transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, efficiency and equity. Accordingly, collaboration of regional rivals becomes possible through the trust-building arising from good governance. Besides, the lack of capacities in public sector and civil society mentioned as hurdles will be ameliorated.
All in all, The findings of this study indicate that the new regionalism approach is useful for completing many deficiencies of the present regional development in Iran including regional disparities and inefficiencies in resource utilization. The rival political divisions at regional scale are hampering coordinated development and this approach has the capability to reduce the rivalries and establishing collaborative milieu. It has been construed that the needed actions should be taken step by step, starting with those simple ones which can be done with the existing laws to create the capacity for the next reformist steps.
Also, it is shown that due to the nature of new regionalism, it can be used in order to utilize and strengthening the comparative advantages of Iran’s regions at both national and supra-national scales. The application of new regionalism approach in the spatial management system of Iran necessitates on one hand, the recognition of a buoyant and flexible new regional level of governance and on the other hand, the provision of the statuary status at this level in the administrative divisions of the country. New regionalism can be applied for a variety of socio-economic, political and environmental objectives at different scales of national and supra-national levels with the inclusive participation of all key players and concurrent top-down and bottom-up processes. The institutional arrangement for such an approach is missing now.

Bearing in mind the nature of new regionalism which emphasizes the integration - not the assimilation - within the existing dispersion of spatial institutions, it can be utilized at different global and national scales to prevail the particularism. In addition, new regionalism has the potential to upgrade social capital and sectoral synergy among the regional stakeholders. In this regard, the Iranian spatial development management has capabilities yet to be realized. Having said this, the need for greater decentralization (i.e., toward devolution) of the bureaucratic system is an imperative later.
In conclusion, the new regionalism approach can initiate cooperation among spatially divided regional entities in socio-economic, political and environmental issues. The approach leads to utilizing the competitive advantages at both national and international levels which in turn, is conducive to spatial development of regions. The contextual requisite for this is good governance. In fact, good governance is needed to ensure the transparent, accountable, responsive, lawful, efficient, democratic and equitable decisions at the public sphere of regions. Decentralization plays a major role in this regard and regions should be given more authority over their own resources. However, this is a gradual institutional process concomitant to the capacity building among all the regional agents of development. Therefore, a step by step process has been introduced while the necessary statuary pre-requisites are prepared.


Main Subjects

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  • Receive Date: 17 July 2013
  • Revise Date: 18 August 2013
  • Accept Date: 26 August 2013
  • First Publish Date: 20 February 2015