An analysis on the Challenges of Local Development based on the Regeneration of the Sustainable Urban Economy (Case study: Tehran)

Document Type : Article extracted From phd dissertation


1 Department of social Sciences and Sociology, Faculty of Literature, Humanities and Social Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Geography, Faculty of Literature, Humanities and Social Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

3 Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran




Local development is one of the new patterns of development that emphasizes the empowerment of the local community after the 1980s to organize their affairs. In this regard, the regeneration model with a sustainable economic approach can be a good alternative for the redevelopment of inefficient neighborhoods. However, applying this approach to the development of dysfunctional urban neighborhoods has faced many challenges. In general, the results of existing studies show that most of the development interventions that have been carried out without considering the economic factors and economic empowerment of the residents of the target neighborhoods have been criticized and failed due to the non-participation of residents in the planning process. In fact, the poor financial capacity of the residents of these neighborhoods, on the one hand, reduces their financial participation in redevelopment projects and, on the other hand, deprives them of the possibility of living in those neighborhoods. Whereas, if the residents could somehow increase their economic power, they could play a more significant role in local development while living in their neighborhood. Considering this pathological perspective, in the present study, by conducting a case study of five neighborhoods of Tehran in the central and southern parts of the city, we seek to answer the following question:

-What are the challenges facing the realization of local development based on the regeneration of a sustainable urban economy, and how can these challenges be explained?


This study is in the category of explanatory research that has been done by the mixed method. Research data were collected from two main sources: 1- Interviews with experts familiar with the subject of research in Tehran 2- Surveys of target neighborhoods. Accordingly, the study population consisted of 31 experts familiar with the subject of research in Tehran and 473 residents of the target neighborhoods selected by the multi-stage cluster sampling method. A sampling of experts was also done by the targeted snowball method. Interviews with experts were conducted using semi-structured questions based on a conversational approach The survey of the target neighborhoods was performed using a 5-point Likert questionnaire with 23 variables and 69 questions. Data analysis was performed in the qualitative part using the method of "qualitative content analysis" based on open and axial coding techniques and in the quantitative part using the method of "structural equation modeling."

Results and discussion

The survey results of the target neighborhoods indicated that the quality of life in these neighborhoods was undesirable because it turned out that the problems of these neighborhoods are beyond the realm of economic issues. Numerous social anomalies and crime, the weakness of the neighborhoods' infrastructure facilities, and physical deterioration make local development an unattainable category in these neighborhoods. Also, based on the results of the qualitative pathology model, local development challenges based on the sustainable urban economy approach were classified into 36 concepts, 37 sub-categories, and five main categories. In fact, the critical challenges of local development based on a sustainable urban economy include five main axes, which are: 1- Weak performance of urban management, 2- Weak participation, 3- Low trust in urban management institutions, 4- Low security, and 5 - Low sense of belonging to the neighborhood.

As the main variables of the quantitative model, these five axes entered the structural equation model and were tested. The quantitative model results also showed that there are serious problems and obstacles in the field of relations between actors. The category of mutual trust between institutional actors and residents of target neighborhoods is an important issue. In this way, trust affects other dimensions of activism and, as a vital mediating variable, reduces or increases the participation and synergy of actions between different actors.


Based on the present study results, it can be said that Western models of sustainable urban economy approach cannot leak down the effects of development in a city like Tehran. Even if urban regeneration or any other ideal project is implemented with a western model in a city like Tehran, it will not be effective and in line with local development goals. And the output of this type of development is undoubtedly external development that firstly requires the injection of significant capital from outside. Secondly, the type of intervention in such models is very ambitious and lacks residents' social support as the main stakeholders of development. Therefore, based on the indigenous models of the creative economy and sustainable urban economy, local development with a sustainable urban economy approach can be sought in other areas within social units, including neighborhoods. These areas include minimal policies, micro-measures, and gradual but sustainable actions by institutions such as municipalities, whose area of responsibility is more closely linked to the quality of life in urban areas. Therefore, by accepting the assumption that the application of a sustainable urban economy approach is an undeniable necessity for the realization of local development in dysfunctional neighborhoods of Tehran, the requirements of this type of development can be pursued in the following three areas:

1. Strengthening the role and performance of development actors at the institutional level (government and its affiliated institutions);

2. Strengthening the role and performance of development actors at the local level (members of the local community and residents of urban neighborhoods);

3. Localization of approaches to regeneration of sustainable urban economy in accordance with the conditions of neighborhoods in Tehran.

Key words: Local Development, Urban Regeneration, Sustainable Economy, Tehran