The Role of Social and Cultural Factors in Formation of Local Governments in Iran based on System Approach

Document Type : Research Paper


1 MA in Political Geography, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

2 Associate Professor of Political Geography, Faculty of Literatures, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

3 Assistant Professor of Geography, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran


The increasing growth of local and public institutions and their necessity in managing the general affairs of the country and the localization process for handling the general affairs in the final decade of the twentieth and the early decade of the twenty first centuries have changed the status of local government as an indispensable reality in the World. The geographical places  require local autonomy and management for a better management of the affairs, the horizontal and vertical planning of relations with other regions and the establishment of institutions and organizations. Such independencies and the political management of space in the local domain are referred to as the local government or local state in the geopolitics literature. Conceptually, local government is a political-administrative structure as the result of spatial distribution of political power process that is created by the central government. In other words, it is a process making decision-making, implementation and supervision of local affairs, in the framework of general policies of central government, to be assigned to the public institutions and organizations. The studies conducted in this regard indicate that there are a variety of influential factors in the creation of local governments. Such influential factors can be classified in five aspects including sociocultural, political, legal- judicial, financial-economic and geographical factors. . Based on the above-mentioned ideas, the present study attempts to identify the influential factors in the formation of local government in Iran according to the systemic thinking approach in a sociocultural framework. In fact, the main objective of the study is to make a modelling of the influence of sociocultural factors in creation of local government within the framework of systemic thinking using Vensim software. 
The current research study is to investigate the role of sociocultural factors in the formation of local government in Iran.  In this investigation, role of systemic thinking in different domains of planning and management is addressed using this approach. This study has a descriptive-analytical method based on an applied and exploratoryapproach. More generally, the present study is conducted to identify and prioritize the influential factors and to examine their relationship in the formation of local government in Iran and to recognize the existing challenges in the sociocultural aspect and finally to model the influential factors in a systemic thinking framework for the formation. For such purposes, based on the library studies and the systemic thinking approach, the influential factors were determined and the relationship between these factors and with the necessity of forming local governments in Iran were examined using quantitative and qualitative methods. In the quantitative method, we made a questionnaire based on the Likert scale ranging from 1 as very few and 5 as very high responses. The reliability of the questionnaire has been determined using Cronbach alpha. The participants of the study were forty scholars in the field of local government and were selected based on estimations of the researchers. In the qualitative phase, seven experts were selected based on the snowball sampling method. We have used independent samples t-test and Friedman test to investigate the effects of the sociocultural factors in the formation of local government in Iran and to prioritize the effects in the sociocultural aspect, respectively. The Vensim software was sued in order to design the cause and effect diagrams, based on the systemic thinking approach. 
Results and discussion
For the successful formation of local government in Iran, the effective sociocultural factors must be identified and the upcoming challenges should be removed. In such a process, systemic thinking which is capable of solving complicated managerial issues has a great potential. In other words, for recognizing the influential factors in the formation of local governments, we should investigate and analyze them as a system. In this study, the attempts have been made to identify and prioritize the influential sociocultural factors and to explore their relationship with each other to shed some light on their effects in the formation of the local government  and their modeling in a systemic thinking framework. The survey about the literature helped us to extract influential factors including ethnic-linguistic diversity, increase in the public awareness of in deprived areas, the religious diversity, people’s attention and tendency towards democracy, increase in the local and national requests, existence of sense of belonging to a place and localizing tendencies, existence of common local assets and needs, increase in the contribution of people and development from the bottom with reviving the local capabilities. The results of interviews in this research found other influential factors including increase in informational networks, the continuation of ethnic-religious domain over the borders, human talents and abilities in each environment and the growth of urban residents. It can be asserted that the set of above mentioned factors are highly influential in the formation of local governments in the sociocultural aspect.
The findings of the study have revealed that the sociocultural aspect is one of the influential aspects in the formation of local government in Iran. According to the quantitative part (the statistical data of the research) and the qualitative part (the interviews), the research indicates that there is ethnic-linguistic variety among the extracted influential sociocultural factors, the existence of spatial senses and localization tendencies and also the existence of national and local demands, due to their high degree of influence compared with the other factors.


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