Document Type : Original Article
Department of Geography and Urban Planning, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Ardabil, Iran.
Department of Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Faculty of GeoSciences. Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran. Iran
Human Geography Department .Faculty of Geographical Sciences. Kharazmi University, Tehran. Iran
Purpose- Attaining balanced development and spatial equity with much emphasis on competitive advantages has been constantly the main concern among planners and policy-makers to reduce inefficiency, inequality, polarization, and fragmentation in the spatial structure of different countries. Fulfilling such goals demands the knowledge of local potentials and the way to exploit them in a correct manner. Therefore, this study aimed to identify competitive advantages and levels of living in the study area, and then assess the effective propellers of balanced regional development (BRD) based on local competitiveness using futures research.
Design/methodology/approach- An analytical-exploratory applied research method was recruited to reflect on the rural areas and the researchers working on regional planning in Ardabil County, Iran, as the statistical population. The sample size was thus determined to be 30 individuals using the snowball sampling method (via theoretical saturation). The data were also collected by a Delphi questionnaire, library method, documents, statistics, and initiatives. To analyze the data, MicMac software, the Geographic Information System (GIS software), Microsoft EXCEL, and the Morris method were employed.
Finding- Analyzing the research findings associated with the variables as determinants with direct influence showed that among 23 variables in this study, 13 cases were within direct influence-dependence scope or condition but only 12 variables prioritized respectively as policy stability, executive regulations/procedures, price stability and predictability and intervention logic, monopoly prevention, unfair concessions or rents and competitions, removal of administrative barriers to business through delegation approach, effective deterrence of criminal laws and prosecutions in the judicial system, innovation/initiative flow, prevention of biased perceptions of laws by relevant stakeholders, distribution system and marketing status, effective market demand, administrative procedures and business information transparency, willingness to buy foreign goods, as well as auditing and taxing regulations/procedures as determinants had the highest influential power, i.e., they constituted the propellers of BRD. Moreover, the study results revealed that none of the variables was strategic and their distribution on direct and indirect influence-dependence axes indicated the instability in the system (here, BRD).
Research limitations/implications- Among the most important limitations in the present study was no access to the statistics of all cases and the unwillingness to cooperate by a number of executive organizations and bodies in Ardabil County, Iran. Furthermore, the pivot strategies in this research were established based on local development and BRD strategies.
Practical implications- To meet the objectives of BRD planning in the rural areas of Ardabil County, Iran, the key role of the 12 main variables mentioned here should be taken into account. Such variables have high influence and low dependence on BRD improvements in the study area and they are of top priority in planning for BRD based on local competitiveness in the rural areas of Ardabil County, Iran.
Originality/Value: Little research has thus far assessed the effective propellers of BRD based on local competitiveness using futures research. Among the positive points of this study was the inclusiveness and exclusiveness of the research criteria.