عنوان مقاله [English]
The main objective of this research is to examine the main factors that influence citizen participation in urban managing. We have focused on the electronic participation of people to identify the main factors that affect this participation. Two approaches could be used to find these impacting factors. One is to study citizens’ perception about the main driving forces for their willingness to participation in urban affairs, and second is to assess the opinion of local authorities and the employees of municipalities to identify the influencing forces for citizen participation. Assuming that local authorities and employees of municipalities are confronting with practical aspects of public participation in urban affairs, this study employed the second approach to evaluate the impacting factors of citizens’ e-participation in urban management.
City of Rasht, the largest population centre among the northern provinces of Iran, was used as a case study to conduct this research. The main methodology for this research was descriptive and analytical. The employed data came from a field survey, in which 337 people from local authorities and municipality staffs were interviewed using a researcher made questionnaire.
2- Literature review
Citizen participation is one of the bases of democracy. Establishment of democracy implies increasing citizen participation in public affairs (Hsaio, 2003). Participation is one of the necessities of urban life and it will occur when citizens think beyond their individual life and feel a social responsibility to become a real citizen (Halachmi, 2011). Citizen participation has an essential role in establishing safe and powerful society and having equal and more access to resources (Foster-Fishman, et al., 2009. In the process of urban development, citizen’s participation has become an important factor not only as a result of democracy and a method to involve people in the planning process, but also achieving to create a real partnership (Muller-Jokel, 2003). In decision making process, urban planners have tried to be informed about citizens’ view and implement their projects through citizen’s cooperation.
Conceptually, electronic citizenship participation is defined as information technology to improve and expand citizen participation (Zissis, 2009). Over the last decades, governments have widely adopted electronic government (e-government) to provide information and services online (Coursey and Norris 2008 Citizen participation is very important to the success of urban planning projects, because any planning project will ultimately become part of the public life (Barton, et al., 2005 Counsell, et al., 2006). Therefore, the earlier and the more intensively the public is involved in an urban planning project, the more likely the project will succeed (Wu, et al., 2010).
To do this research, we first utilized a conceptual model in which nine main variables were assumed as the main factors affecting citizens’ participation in urban management. These variables in essence constituted the research hypothesis (Fig. 1). To evaluate these factors, 30 questions were employed to measure their relative impacts on citizens’ e-participation in urban affairs from municipality staff opinion. After testing the reliability of data using Cronbach’s Alpha test and assuring the normality of data using Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, the non-parametric T-test was used to find the Relationship between selected variables and citizens’ e-participation in urban management. Results of T-test were shown in Table 1
After performing T-test, the significance of variables was ranked through the Friedman Test. The output of this test indicates how much each variable affects the e-participation of citizens in urban management in the study area (Table 2).
This study assessed the main factors impacting the citizens’ e-participation in urban management in the city of Rasht, Iran. The main findings of the study revealed that required knowledge and informing the citizens, sense of belonging and commitment, perception of the participation consequences, electronic infrastructure of the city and profitability of partnership constitute the most important factors of e-participation of citizens among selected variables. Social satisfaction, citizens’ confidence, economic situation of citizens and sense of ownership were among the other influencing factors of e-participation with lesser degree of importance among the selected variables.
Given that this study was conducted in a single city and was based on the opinion of officials, experts and staff in the municipality, certainly, its findings is suited more to the study area. Since different environmental, social, economic and cultural conditions of cities could impact the casual factors affecting citizen participation in urban affairs, more studies of this kind with different approaches are suggested to better understand the main factors affecting electronic participation of citizens in urban management.