The institutional change in governance structure of spatial plans highlighting the transaction cost: a case study of detailed plan of Isfahan City

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Faculty of Urban and Regional Design and Planning, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: The transaction cost (TC) is rooted in institutional economics, and is related to the concept of efficiency. One of the tasks of planners is to promote the efficiency of the planning process. Thus, identification of effective factors for producing TC including searching for information, negotiation, creating and application of monitoring mechanisms is important. Because through this, planners can rely on the institutional design of governance structures to reduce TC. In this regard, since 1990, efforts have begun in urban planning in the world. Many key actors including citizens are engaged with detailed plans in Iran’s planning system. The aim of the present paper is to reduce the TC of Isfahan’s detailed plan for different actors by introducing the effective factors for creating TC in the plan, determining the key factors among them, and developing possible scenarios with high consistency for the governance structure of the plan in order to pave the way for redesigning this process.
Material and methods: In this study, data collection and data analysis methods were qualitative and quantitative, thus it is a mixed-method research. Effective factors on TC were determined through thematic analysis of interviews conducted with key actors of detailed plan by using Atlas ti. The questionnaire of cross-impact matrix was filled by experts and their data were analyzed using structural analysis and the MicMac method in order to determine five key factors/descriptors among all. For each key factor, various variants were considered. Based on the experts’ opinions about the impact of these variants on each other as the input of ScenarioWizard, possible scenarios with high consistency were developed for the governance structure of the detailed plan.
Results and discussion: As preparing detailed plan encompasses both searching and information costs and also bargaining and decision costs to reach an acceptable agreement with other parties about land development rights, the whole costs of preparing a detailed plan are TC. The costs of monitoring the plan such as costs related to article 100 of municipality law, are also TC. Affecting factors in creating TC in the process of Isfahan detailed plan is categorized into three broad themes of the institutional environment, quality of governance, and capital. These three categories include 23 effective factors among which five factors of rules and regulations, bureaucracy, trust between actors, level of participation and access to information are recognized as key factors/descriptors. Considering different variants devoted to these factors, three scenarios with high consistency were developed for governance structure of detailed plan. One of these scenarios is toward less concentration and the others is seeking more concentration in planning system.
Conclusion: Comparing the effective factors of TC resulted from this research with that of theoretical background showed that although there are differences in categorizing and naming the factors, their nature is the same. The key effective factors were identified through the expert panel. The total effective factors are mostly related to the implementation, monitoring, and revision phases of the detailed plan, in contrary to producing phase. The scenario writing process for the governance structure of the detailed plan to reduce its TC and conducting institutional design systematically and understandably in this research, fill the present gap in the body of knowledge. In three developed scenarios the variants of each five variables/descriptors are in one direction, forming a completely concentrated or deconcentrated scenario. Such a situation emphasizes the fact that the governance of urban land use is possible through patterns or systems formed of consistent elements and follows a unified logic. These patterns are either toward more concentration or deconcentration in the planning system which has a historic background in the present era in different cities.


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