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

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Geography, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran



Local development is one of the new patterns of development that emphasizes the empowerment of the local community after the 1980s to organize their own affairs. In this regard, the model of regeneration with a sustainable economy approach can be a good alternative for the redevelopment of inefficient neighborhoods. However, the application of this approach in Tehran has not been implemented so far and there are many challenges in this field that have been addressed in the present study. The research method of this study is mixed. Research data were collected using interviews with experts and surveys of target neighborhoods. The study population consisted of 31 experts familiar with the subject of research in Tehran and 473 residents of the target neighborhoods. Data analysis was performed in the qualitative part by "qualitative content analysis" method and in the quantitative part by "structural equation modeling" method. Based on the results of the qualitative pathology model, local development challenges based on the sustainable urban economy approach can be classified into 36 concepts, 35 sub-categories and 4 main categories. The results of the quantitative model also showed that the variable "trust in urban management institutions" is an important mediating variable that strengthens the participation of residents to accompany urban management institutions in organizing neighborhoods. In the end, it was concluded that Local development requirements can be pursued with the approach of sustainable urban economy 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 recreation of sustainable urban economy in accordance with the conditions of neighborhoods in Tehran
Extended Abstract
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:

Strengthening the role and performance of development actors at the institutional level (government and its affiliated institutions);
Strengthening the role and performance of development actors at the local level (members of the local community and residents of urban neighborhoods);
Localization of approaches to regeneration of sustainable urban economy in accordance with the conditions of neighborhoods in Tehran.

There is no funding support.
Authors’ Contribution
All of the authors approved thecontent of the
manuscript and agreed on all aspects of the work.
Conflict of Interest
Authors declared no conflict of interest.
We are grateful to all the scientific consultants of this paper.


  1. Ababio, E.P. & Meyer, D.F. (2012). Local Economic Development (LED) Building Blocks, Strategy and Implementation for Local Government in South Africa. Administratio Publica, 20 (4), 6-27.
  2. Abachi, A., Yousofi, A., & Kermani, M. (2018). The government-oriented approach to urban regeneration and dependent gentrification: performance analysis of key stakeholders in the renovation of the fabric surrounding the Holy Shrine in Mashhad. Journal of Community Development, 11 (1), 75-94. [In Persian].
  3. Alpopi, C., & Manole, C. (2014). Integrated urban regeneration- sustainable management alternative, in "Impact of technological innovation on the pillars of sustainable development". Accelerating the world's research, 15, 138-145.
  4. Aminzadeh, B., & Rezabeighi Sani, R. (2010). Evaluation of Public Participation in Tarhhaye Manzar Shahri (Urban Landscape Plans). Honarhaye Ziba- Memari & Shahrsazi, 17 (3), 29-39.  [In Persian].
  5. Arefi, M. (2004). An asset based approach to policy making: revisiting the history of urban planning and neighborhood change in Cincinnati. Cities, 21 (6), 491-500.
  6. Ariana, A., Kazemian, Gh., & Mohammadi, M. (2020), Conflict management model of urban regeneration stakeholders in Iran (Case study: Hemmat-abad neighborhood of Isfahan). Urban Studies, 9 (35), 123-143.  [In Persian].
  7. Ashrafi, Y. (2014). Modernity and its Effect on the Functional Changes of Urban Public Spaces in Tehran. PhD Thesis in Geography and Urban Planning, University of Tehran, [In Persian].
  8. Ashworth, G. (2011). Place branding: local, virtual and physical identities, constructed. Tourism Management, 32, 702-703.
  9. Azizi Fard, A., Ebraahimzadeh, I., & Rafieian, M. (2020). An Analysis of the Role of Government Policies and Market Proximity on Functional Changes and Decline of Urban Neighborhoods (Case Study: Siroos Neighborhood of Tehran). Journal of Urban Social Geography, 7 (2), 139-159. Doi:10.22103/JUSG.2020.2028 [In Persian].
  10. Babaei, H., Ahmad, N., & Gill, S. (2012). Bonding, bridging and linking social capital and empowerment among squatter settlements in Teheran, Iran. World Applied Sciences Journal, 17 (1), 119-126.
  11. Behera, A. (2017), Reimagining Contemporary Urban Planning with Placemaking, Applied Research Paper, Available at:
  12. Behera, A. (2017), Reimagining Contemporary Urban Planning with Placemaking, Master of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology.
  13. Bortoletto, N. (2016), Participatory action research in local development: an opportunity for social work. European Journal of Social Work, Available at:
  14. Bryant, Sh.L. (2006). Community Foundations the Asset-based Development of an Australian Community Organization as a Foundation Source for Sustainable Community Development. Doctoral Thesis, RMIT University, Australia, Available at:
  15. Cascante, D.M., & Brennan, M.A. (2012). Conceptualizing community development in the twenty-first century. Community Development, 43 (3), 293-305.
  16. Cleave, E., Arku, G., Sadler, R., & Gilliland, J. (2016), The role of place branding in local and regional economic development: bridging the gap between policy and practicality. Regional Studies, Regional Science, 3 (1), 207-228.
  17. Colantonio, A., & Dixon, T. (2011). Urban Regeneration & Social Sustainability: Best practice from European cities, Wiley- Blackwell.
  18. Dwivedi, A. & Weerawardena, J. (2018). Conceptualizing and operationalizing the social entrepreneurship construct. Journal of Business Research, 86, 32-40.
  19. Ehsanian, S., Nabipour Afroozi, M., & Alipour, M. (2019). Investigating the use of intellectual capital, innovation and creativity as the main drivers for long-term sustainable development in the framework of creative economy and knowledge-based society. New Achievements in Humanities Studies, 2 (15), 84-77. [In Persian]
  20. Fanni, Z., & Saremi, F. (2013), Sustainable Neighborhood Development Approach in Tehran Metropolis - Case: Bahar Neighborhood, District 7. Geography and Development, 30 (1), 35-56. [In Persian].
  21. Flyvbjerg, B. (2014), What You Should Know about Megaprojects and Why: An Overview. Project Management Journal, 45 (2), 6-19.
  22. Ghaderi, S., Fazeli, M., & Pakseresht, S. (2016). Neighborhood development strategies: comparing the performance of neighborhood management in Iran and Britain. Journal of Community Development, 8 (1), 57-88. [In Persian].
  23. Goyal1, S., Sergi, B.S., & Esposito, M. (2013). Social Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies- Understanding the Constraining Factors and Key Focus Areas from the Literature Review. Incend Journal of business, Available at:
  24. Gunter, A. (2011). Stadium upgrades as local economic development: the fallacy of the Ellis Park Sports Precinct upgrade as LED. South African Geographical Journal, 93 (1), 75-88.
  25. Hosseini Dehaghani, M. & Basirat, M. (2016). A Game Theory Approach to the Analysis of Urban Power Games: Analysis of Construction Building Processes in Tehran Metropolis. Honarhaye Ziba- Memari & Shahrsazi, 21 (1), 91-100. [In Persian]
  26. Imani Shamlou, J., Rafeian, M., & Dadashpour, H. (2016). Urban Speculation and Spatial Segregation (Analysis of Spatial Evolution of Tehran Metropolis in the Context of Oil-Based Economy). International Quarterly of Geopolitics, 12 (41), 104-135.  [In Persian].
  27. Javan Majidi, J., Masoud, M., & Motalebi, G. (2020), Measuring the Social Sustainability Improvement Factors in Regeneration of Distressed Urban Areas (A Comparative Study of Historical and Marginal Context in Ardabil City). Naqshejahan, 10 (1), 33-42.  [In Persian].
  28. Javanbakht, H. (2016). Investigating the Relationship between Urban Decline and Creative Class Housing in District 12 of Tehran. M.A Thesis in Geography and Urban Planning, Faculty of Geographical Sciences, Kharazmi University, [In Persian].
  29. Kavaratzis, M. & Hatch, M.J. (2013). The Dynamics of Place Brands: An Identity-Based Approach to Place Branding Theory. Marketing Theory, 13 (1), 69-86.
  30. Kębłowski, W., Lambert, D. & Bassens, D. (2020), Circular economy and the city: an urban political economy agenda, Culture and Organization, 26 (2), 142-158.
  31. Kong, L. (2011). Beyond Networks and Relations: Towards Rethinking Creative Cluster Theory, in Creative Economies. Creative Cities: Asian-European Perspectives, 61-75. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9949-6_5,
  32. Landorf, Ch. (2011). Evaluating social sustainability in historic urban environments. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 17 (5), 463- 477.
  33. Lees, L., Slater, T., & Wyly, E. (2008). Gentrification. New York: Routledge
  34. Mansourian, H., Pourahmad, A., & Ashouri, H. (2019), The Analysis of the Effective Factors on Urban Blight in District 3, Region 12, Tehran City. Geography and Sustainability of Environment, 9 (2), 1-14. [In Persian].
  35. Martin, L., & Osberg, S. (2007). Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition, Available. at:
  36. Masoud, M. & Moazezi, A.M. (2012), An Asset-Based Approach for Improving Deteriorated and Historical Fabrics (Case study: Bagh Azari Community, District 16 Tehran). Journal of Conservation and Architecture in Iran, 2 (3), 63-77.  [In Persian].
  37. Masoud, M., Zamani, B. & Rezagah, H.E (2019), Investigating the Effect of Regeneration-Led Gentrification in Inefficient Neighborhoods; a Comparative Study of Atabak and Khani-Abad Neighborhoods in Tehran. Hoviatshahr, 13 (3), 63-78. [In Persian].
  38. Mayo, M., Mendiwelso-Bendek, Z., & Packham, C. (2013). Community Research for Community Development. Palgrave Macmillan Publisher.
  39. Mirfardi, A., & Ramezani Baseri, A. (2013), Convergence of sociological and economic attitudes in institutionalist approaches to development. Journal of Economic & Developmental Sociology, 2 (2), 200-171. [In Persian].
  40.  Orueta, F.D. & Fainstein, S. (2008). The New Mega-Projects: Genesis and Impacts. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32 (4), 759-767. DOI:10.1111/j.1468-2427.2008.00829.x
  41. Parvin, S., Darvishi fard, A., & Kazemi, Gh. (2016), The Social Disorganization and Latent Urban Pathologies in the Harandi Neighborhood. Sociological Review, 23 (1), 91-121.  [In Persian].
  42. Pasquinelli, C. (2013). Competition, cooperation and co-opetition: unfolding the process of interterritorial branding. Urban Research and Practice, 6, 1-18.
  43. Perry, M. (2010). Controversies in Local Economic Development. Local Economy, 25 (7), 527-534.
  44. Phillips, R., & Pittman, R.H. (2009). An Introduction to Community Development. Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group.
  45. Pike, A., Rodríguez-Pose, A., & Tomaney, J. (2006). Local and Regional Development. Routledge.
  46. Piran, P. (2005). Theory of Strategy and Territorial Policy of Iranian Society: Urban Studies. Iranshahr Thought, 2 (6), 46-51. [In Persian].
  47. Pourahmad, A., Babaei, H., & Rafiei, A. (2018), Explaining the Role of Neighborhood Management on Social Sustainability in Tehran Through Urban Connecting Capital. Studies of the Islamic Iranian city, 85 (31), 75-85. [In Persian].
  48. Ramezani, A., Rabiee, A., Zahedi Mazandarani, M., & Firoozabadi, A. (2019). The Comparison of Effects of Orientations between Social and Charity Entrepreneurships on Different Aspects of Poverty with an Emphasis on Mashhad Supportive Organizations. Majlis and Rahbord, 25 (96), 179-212. [In Persian].
  49. Robinson, J.W., & Green, G.P. (2011). Introduction to Community Development: Theory, Practice, and Service-Learning. Sage Publication.
  50. Rostami, Z., & Vojdani Dorostkar, N. (2015), Assessing the Social Effects of the Tirageh Commercial Complex Project on the Residents of District 5 of Tehran Municipality. International Conference on Civil Engineering, Architecture and Urban Infrastructure, Tabriz, [In Persian].
  51. Saberifar, R., Fal Soleyman, M., & Gheisari, S. (2012), Sustainable Local Development and Attracting Maximum Participation of People Case Study: The Experiences of International Project of Carbon Sequestration in South Khorasan. Geography and Development, 10, (28), 41-54. Doi:10.22111/GDIJ.2012.320  [In Persian].
  52. Saeedifard, F., Razavian, M., & Ghourchi, M. (2018), The reflection of a rentier economy on the spatial organization of metropolitan urban planning with an emphasis on human-centered approach (Case Study: Region 1 Tehran). Researches in Earth Sciences, 9 (2), 145-164. [In Persian].
  53. Seo, J.K. (2002), Re-urbanization in Regenerated Areas of Manchester and Glasgow: New Residents and the Problems of Sustainability. Cities, 19 (2), 113-121.
  54. Sepe, M. (2014). Urban transformation, socio-economic regeneration and participation: two cases of creative urban regeneration. International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development, 6 (1): 20-41.
  55. Shahabian, P. & Rahgozar, E. (2012), Linking innovative environment with the city. Journal of Manzar, 4 (19), 67-73. [In Persian].
  56. Sklar, S.L., Autry, C.E. & Anderson, S.C. (2014). How park and recreation agencies engage in community development. World Leisure Journal, 56 (4), 281-299.
  57. Soleimani Mehranjani, M., Zanganeh, A., Karami, T. & Ahangari, N. (2018). Analyzing the Consequences of Urban and Infra-Urban Land Use Density on Neighborhood Function (A Case Study of District 12 of Tehran Metropolitan. Urban Structure and Function Studies, 5 (17), 142-169. [In Persian].
  58. Swinburn, G. & Goga, S. & Murphy, F. (2006). Local Economic Development: a Primer Developing and Implementing Local Economic Development Strategies and Action Plans, Available at:
  59. Talkhabi, H.R., Soleimani, M., Saeidnia, A. & Zanganeh, A. (2018). Metropolis Explosion and Sprawl of Tehran within the Framework of Urban Decline Theory. Geographical Urban Planning Research, 6 (3), 451-472.  [In Persian].
  60. Tallon, A. (2013). Urban Regeneration in the UK Paperback. Second Edition, Routledge: London.
  61. Wyckoff, M.A. (2014). Definition of place making: four different types. Planning & Zoning News, 32 (3), 1-12.
  62. Yousefvand, S., & Taleb, M. (2018). Interventional Discourses of Development in Local Communities, Journal of Rural Research, 9 (2), 168-181.  [In Persian].
  63. Zanganeh, A. (2013). Explaining the Process of Urban Decline: The study area of District 12 of Tehran. PhD Thesis in Geography and Urban Planning, University of Tehran, [In Persian].
  64. Zukin, Sh. (2010), Naked city: The death and life of authentic urban places. New York, NY: Oxford University Press