عنوان مقاله [English]
Despite policy of using small cities in regional development is an acceptable approach for the theorist of this field and accepting that this type of policy will play an important role in this kind of development these theorists do not give a clear and definite definition of "small city". Practically in their opinion it isnât clear what kind of "settlement" is called a small city. Now this question arises: if small settlements and related policies are important and effective in the development planning and regional decentralization, why providing criteria choosing them is unclear and ambiguous. So the authors discuss this important issue: which city can be called âsmallâ? And in clearer way, does every small city have the potential to be used in regional development and decentralization program?
2- Theoretical bases:
2-1-Defining the nature of small city
In many studies and theories, specific population is used for defining a small city. Our definition of the small city isnât only a populated settlement but a city which is planned to take part in regional development and to make achieving to the objectives of decentralization in the region possible in regard with justice and integration.
2-2The history of using small city in Regional Development
After World War II, the extent of the metropolitan area was increased. With that continuance, some problems were occurring such as depression, lack of adequate services, housing problem, and environmental pollutions. In regard to these issues, "regional development theory" emerged in the 1950s and the most important one was âgrowth pole theoryâ. But since the late 1960s, the growth pole theory was strongly criticized. This criticism was for the disappointing results emerged in many implemented projects. Thus, in the 1960s and 1970s, from regional development theories, the other view that can be called "small cityâs theories" formed against the view of the growth pole. This view was pursued to do the development planning as a "bottom-up" approach, instead of the "top-down" of growth pole approach and expecting for the development benefits and spread effects toward the lower levels of urban hierarchy. Proponents of this theory believe that if the basic needs and services is provided in small cities, the migration routes are changed and instead of big cities, this time, small(er) cities will be the final destination of rural migrants. The goals of small city policy include improving the economic efficiency of region, increasing equity, poverty reduction, environmental quality, improving living standards in rural and urban centers, reduction in migration to big cities, and regional decentralization.
2-3-The result of implications in the small city policy
The main weakness of the small city policy was the unclear definition of the small city. So implementing this policy made adverse effects and consequences for the cities and areas influenced by these cities.
3- The role of small cities in regional development
We can select a small city when we understand which roles it wants to play in regional development. Understanding the role of a small city, in the end, lead to the identification of the features that a small city should have.
3-1-The role of small cities as a market for agricultural products:
It is expected that with strengthening the role and function of the small city market and providing access to it, the rural incomes rise. However, the ability of small city centers as the market for agricultural product depend on factors such as access to natural resources and labor, accessibility and affordability for the transportation, storage and production facilities, and connection of these centers to national, regional and urban networks.
3-2-The role of small cities as centers of distribution of goods and services:
Two factors which must be considered for the kind of services in small cities as providing goods and services for rural areas are: 1) Characteristics of rural economic activity, income levels and purchasing power of the rural population 2) the capacity of local institutions to develop and distribute services. So distribution centers in urban centers and the access to health, education, water, and sanitation services lead to increased interaction between the city and the village.
3-3-The role of small cities and rural non-agricultural workers:
Non-agricultural employment in small cities is more important than agricultural employment. Because the traits of the population migrating from villages to the cities are usually people who could not be absorbed in the agricultural sector. Therefore preconditions and key subjects should be studied for the creation of non-agricultural employment in small city centers such as the diagnosing the potential of agriculture sector for supporting non-agricultural enterprises.
3-4-The role of small cities and village-city migration
Necessary precondition for this role and then attraction of migrants who move to smaller city centers is accessibility to employment, especially in non-agricultural sectors such as trade, services and production.
3-5-Theoretical and conceptual framework of the study:
Writers considered features with regard to the roles of small city in regional development mentioned. This can be done in six major features, population, administrative, economic, service, physical connections, and geography, which are considered for role acceptance of small city.
4- Discussion: The case study (Metropolitan region of Amol, Babol, Sari and Qaemshahr)
Metropolitan region of case study has 16 cities which 4 cities of them, Amol, Babol, Sari and Qaemshahr according to demographic, economic and administrative features of them are the major cities and dominate the entire region. Amol, Babol, Sari and Qaemshahr have particular characteristics in population and economic, administrative and political discussions that distinguish them from the rest of the settlements. So for the subject of selecting a small city, the remaining 12 cities are studied and the analysis of this paper was formed in these 12 cities.
In regard with facts mentioned above, network model for a small city selection is presented into the study case. Then by using network analysis process (ANP) and also with interviews of experts and scholars the model is implemented then the obtained scores for each of the cities in the region are designated. With regard to the goal of model which is the selection of a small city in regional development planning, the greater rating scale illustrates being more appropriate city. So Rynhlaryjan in Amol county, Marzikola and Gatab in Babol County, Kiakola in Qaemshahr county and Kiasar and Ferim in Sari county are elected as small cities.
In this paper with review of the theoretical literature and practical experiences related to policy of using small city in the regional development, some roles were considered for small cities such as the market of agricultural products, distribution of goods and services, creating non-agricultural employment and attracting rural migrants. Then by using the dimensions of each of these roles, the features such as demographic, administrative, economic, service, physical connections, and geography for a small city that wants to participate in regional development was developed in terms of a conceptual model. Then by using the analytic network process (ANP), the relationships and interdependencies of each role (criteria) and features (sub-criteria) was examined. A the end using this model, from 12 cities that based on past experiences and theories were small cities and all of them could be used in this policy, only 6 of those cities, Rineh, Gatab, Marzikola, Kiakola, Kiasar and Ferim were selected as a small city. Now with choosing these cities, it can be assured that the implementation of small city policy can create the regional development for metropolitan region of Amol, Babol, Sari and Ghaemshahr.