Theoretical Deficiencies of Rural Development in Iran



Since 1938, a couple of decades before Iranian's revelation, attention to villages and rural development as a part of developmental process in national scale and also in order to analyze social, political, and economical changes has been discussed as a vital part and acted a major part in development policies. However, this attention and dedication to the program are results of development literature worldwide evolutions and experiences of other developed countries. In Iran, different plans have been implemented for developing rural areas and they have mainly focused on reducing poverty. Rural development as an important part of governmental a policies for utterly changing and modifying pervious procedures has held its significance. For this purpose, the government has made its agenda to amend management and traditional structure of agriculture and to establish new organizations and (revolutionary) institutions. Need for change and modifying rural structure in order to give a logical form to voluntary institutions which were relying on the young force have therefore been of great consideration. A glance at rural development plans reveals that there are kinds of disorganized thoughts i.e. theoretical problems in rural development planning and so on. Moreover, the approaches are varied and with physical and organic positions toward the issue. The main purpose of this research is to explain some theoretical deficits in rural developmental planning in which the ideas of scholars and social experts of the field could be adopted and considered more seriously in these areas.

The method of this study is qualitative in which after data- gathering through interviews with (and questionnaires from) scholars and experts, Delphi's technique is used to investigate and analyze the findings. The Delphi's technique includes the following phases:
1st phase: e- mail and telephone number of 170 individuals knowledgeable and expert in rural development have been collected from universities, associations, governmental organizations, research institutions, engineer counselors and erudite retirees.
2nd phase: by analysis the developmental plans and doing preliminary studies and identifying individuals, totally 13 experts and scholars, extensive interviews have been done.
3rd phase: after extensive interviews and analyzing papers such as all of the papers in the first and second national congregation of rural development in Iran, five open-ended questions have been posed and sent by email to 50 individuals who have been active in the rural development. From these correspondents, 15 individuals replied to the questions which move the study to the next level.
4th phase: after posing open-ended questions, 77 multiple questions with five options are posed and sent to 130 individuals from which 65 replied to the questions. After analyzing, questions are divided to 24 categories.
5th phase: finally after analyzing and dividing questions to 24 categories, in this phase 26 multiple questions are posed and sent to 65 individuals who replied in the previous phase. In the end, data derived from questioners are analyzed.

• Despite several decades of experience in planning, lack of unanimous understanding in the concepts of development, among planners and decision- makers is obvious.
• During last several decades, there has not been any clear understanding about the subject, strategy, and requirements of rural development.
• Lack of clear understanding about development, has lead to ambiguous and indeterminate goals in development.
• Lack of professional approach to rural development planning.
• Although perspectives are changed, methodologies dominate in planning have mainly been quantitative and with pivotal role of planners they acted from top to down.
• Lack of collective approach toward planning rural development i.e. not participating receivers of plans and reaching to an agreement collectively.
• Dominance Perfectionism in rural development planning.
• Order-oriented and top-down approaches bin planning development with no expertise's supervision.
• Dominance of outward attitude toward development.
• Dispersal and ambiguity of needs in Iranian rural societis.
• Lack of understanding among decision-makers and policy-makers in planning structure of country toward importance of rural development.
• Mutti-centred management in implementing rural development plans.
• Local considerations and governmental uncontrolled dominance over issues.
• Organizations and institutions look at plan as a source of gaining facilities in favor of their own organization.

Studying various rural development plans reveals that there is a kind of chaos in ideas, speculations, and theories. Iran is in dire need for unified and well-founded theory in this regard, despite its long-term experiences. For this particular reason, long run guide in rural development has not been available. Generally, it should be mentioned that elements like dominance of outward approach to development, rigid and quantitative leader based methodology, order –oriented and top-down plans, perfectionism, unclear policies and strategies in rural development, idealism in rural developmental planning, lack of reliance of some decision-makers and policy-makers in planning structure toward importance of rural development, all point out the fact that planning structure has been filled with theoretical deficits cognitively and scientifically. Dominant innovative thought along with idealism in theory without any regard for local and inner structure of rural societies in Iran, emphasized a conduct and policy which did not produce any fruitful result. Furthermore, belief of many policy-makers in new and innovation principles and being indirectly under influence of other requirements of developing countries and international organizations referred to villages as peripheral, as consequence, in planning they are trying to weaken the role of rural areas.