In Iran, despite the increasing attention of policymakers and planners to the need and importance of applying participatory urban planning approaches at different scales, urban development plans (UDPs) with a participatory approach often face failures and problems such as stopping the process of planning in the middle stages, failure of participatory planning processes due to lack of proper grounding, or non-implementation of prepared plans. Therefore, Tehran, with the boldest background in the field of urban development planning (UDP), as the country’s capital and the first demographic and political city, is selected as the case of this study. The research aims to recognize the institutional barriers to successfully applying participatory approaches in UDP, which leads to the classification of a wide range of obstacles due to the inefficiency of formal and informal institutions involved in the UDP process and determining how and to what extent each category influences the outputs of the planning process. The research design is based on a parallel multistrand mixed method to test the structural model resulting from the relationships of the main variables identified in the theoretical framework of macro-level research by quantitative modeling of structural equations and, in parallel, formulation of an independent theoretical model based on the findings of qualitative content analysis in the case study scale. In the "structural model of institutional analysis of urban development and participation relations" framework, critical paths and relationships governing how formal and informal institutions affect the process of Tehran citizens’ participation in urban development plans are identified at the macro level. Also, to scrutinize the existing processes and document the process and product of UDP in Tehran, the results of in-depth and semi-structured interviews conducted during the research have been categorized into three main categories. The first category aims to confirm the relationships between research variables in the context of the study sample. The second category aims to gain specialized knowledge of the current situation of pilot plans in the subject area of research, and the third category aims to extract and classify the institutional barriers of participatory urban development in Tehran in the form of sub-categories and related conceptual spectrums. Finally, to answer the central question of the research, by combining quantitative and qualitative findings of the research with a descriptive-explanatory approach, "Integrated conceptual model of institutional structure and barriers to participatory UDP in Tehran" and with a prescriptive approach, "strategic implications for alleviation of institutional barriers of Public Participation in Tehran UDP" are presented. Framing a theoretical model of integrated and simultaneous analysis of the relationship between urban development, public participation and institutions, and the obstacles of participatory UDP in Tehran is the main research achievement. This analysis framework can be developed and exploited at three levels in future applied research. First, at the operational level to produce practical outcomes of participatory planning. Second, at the policy level for decision-making and policy-making in the form of constraints and rules of collective choice affecting the structure of participatory planning action situations; and third, at the legal level to determine the composition of participants competent for policy-making and determining institutional rules in this regard.
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