A Critique of Urban land Management in Developing Countries (Case Study: Iran)

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Planning; Department of Geography, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran

2 Lecturer of Department of Urban Development, Azad University, Tehran South Branch, Iran


In this paper, the previous studies (especially the last two decades) have been surveyed by using coding method of information of qualitative research. Indexes were determined, and then the indexes using the Delphi technique was adapted to conditions in developing countries. To assess current policies, responsible institutions for urban land management and people attending these institutions questionnaire was prepared and distributed. Findings in SPSS using path analysis, multiple regression analysis and SWOT methods were analyzed.
Results indicate that governments in developing countries in the area of urban land management face challenges including: lack of clear vision, highly centralized and non-participatory decision making, uncoordinated and sometimes contradictory and conflicting policies, uncoordinated institutions and absence of needed institutional capacity to perform the assigned duties. So, the approach for escaping from this situation is providing beyond institutional vision through participating all stakeholders, and consequently coordinated (integrated) policies in various sectors to achieve vision mentioned above in the time frame, through the institutions that are coordinated vertically and horizontally. Also devolution urban land management authorities and responsibilities for local institutions with institutional capacity building according to defined vision.
The developing countries are grappling with several problems in their efforts to achieve goals including: restricted sources for housing and service sector, defective performance of markets, Inefficient and often outdated means for appropriate, limited access of the low-income groups to land, the policies and control systems of a centralized government and consequently the irregularity in the behavior of a normal land market, insufficiency of land in appropriate positions and with appropriate price, inefficient development plan for governmental urban land, weak inner-government coordination and fragile coordination between the government and the private sector, centralized decision-making, inefficient usage of urban space, rigid and costly legal frameworks, inefficient centralized data systems, lack of security in the possession system, and high cost of transference. Hence, the main question of this study is what reasons are behind inefficiency of governmental policies in urban land management.
The data-based theorization is one of the qualitative research methods that can be applied in development of theoretical methods in different scientific realms. In this method, in addition to focus on development of theory based on field data, efforts are made for expansion of the theoretical method based on the collected data. The data-based theorization maintains unique features (in sampling, analysis of data, and attainment of theoretical sufficiency) that lead the researcher to analyze his data by application of the capacities of this methodology. Results of the analysis of qualitative data were assessed in accordance to the view of experts of the urban land management sector.
Results and discussion
Behind the specific vision is that the obligations related to urban land management in different aspects (land development, the land possession system, land applications, and land tax) are shouldered by numerous organizations. Therefore, the trans-organizational vision, which has been prepared with the participation of all shareholders, draws up the appropriate state of future urban land management, which each of the organizations (via preparation of the vision and inner-organizational missions, in addition to adaptation of policies and strategies) should lead to an appropriate status within the framework of the vision horizon.
Given that the following questions regarding the urban land management are yet to be answered in developing countries; what level of urban land applied rules and regulations are necessary for the efficient management of urban development in the swiftly growing cities? In what range of economic tools and in what scope of the state policies and plans should the policymakers rely upon for determination or control of terms of allocation and usages of land? Which is the optimal allocation of labor between the private and public sector, with due regard to provision of urban services and the accommodation of low-income strata? It can be said that the government's interference in urban land management as observed below doesn't take place in the appropriate manner.
The authority for decision-making should focus on the local realms and that the decisions would be made with the participation of all shareholders in the bottom to top form.
Each of the bodies in the urban land management realm doesn’t maintain transparent and specific activities, which would prevent the presence of parallel organizations. These organizations cannot horizontally work with each other due to lack of trust among them. They cannot hold talks and reach an agreement, participate in decision makings and activities or present an opportunity for expression of each other’s views and standpoints. Also, vertically, they cannot maintain a constructive interaction for accomplishment of the goals of the vision
There is need for preparation of a trans-organizational vision regarding the sustainable management of urban land in which the realms of interference of government in urban land management has been clearly defined. Hence, the presence of such a vision can set the stage for adoption of uniformed policies and the strategic move of the related organizations. To this end, the capacity of local organizations should be enhanced via delegation of authority, responsibilities, and sources, in addition to provision of the necessary legal arrangements. As a result, the local organizations with the decentralized authorities will maintain the bargaining ability of the regional and national organization for fulfillment of an optimal performance. On this basis, the policy adopted in each realm of urban land management should be coordinated with each other and should also complement each other. Hence, the responsible organizations will act in coordination with each other. The terms of performance of organizations should be horizontally coordinated with organizations of other sectors. Also, vertically, there should be coordination between the hierarchy of national and local organizations


Main Subjects

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Volume 50, Issue 4
January 2019
Pages 809-829
  • Receive Date: 29 January 2016
  • Revise Date: 11 February 2017
  • Accept Date: 11 February 2017
  • First Publish Date: 22 December 2018