Development Theory: Realpolitik or Theoretical Vision? Research Paper by Ithaca

An analysis of the evolution of development theory.
# 151789 | 1,967 words | 12 sources | APA | 2010 | AE
Published on Sep 25, 2012 in Economics (International) , Economics (Macro) , Economics (Globalization)

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This paper discusses how evolution was not completely random, nor was it based on the musings of a few influential academics and/or policymakers in renowned institutions. In the light of contradictory empirical evidence, many theorists went back to modify their works. The paper looks also looks at how the evolution of development theory was based on certain ground realities and how the progression and eventual contradictions in meaning did not occur because a theoretical definition of development was being refined in isolation from the world of facts. The paper further examines the three distinct phases in the evolution of development theory and concludes that its evolution has been rooted in empirical facts and real world events.

From the Paper:

"During the first phase of the 1950s and '60s, the emphasis of development theory was on 'Growth' (Gist, 2010). Intellectuals and policymakers advocated rising levels of GNP per capita as the solution to the problem of underdevelopment (Dorfman, 1991). Redistribution was not a primary concern as it was thought that the benefits of higher growth levels would automatically trickle down to the poorer masses (Singer, 1970). Environmental degradation, rising inequalities, and other costs of these rapid growth rates, highlighted by theorists later on, were almost completely ignored. In the second phase, which lasted during the 1970s, emphasis shifted away from a sole focus on growth. Instead, development theory began to talk of 'Growth with Redistribution' (Waelbroeck, 1998). It was discovered that left on its own, growth did not trickle down to the poor. Equity and redistribution had to be factored in explicitly for any benefits of growth to accrue to the poor - and it was this, after all, that the primary aim of development was. In its third and present phase, which began in the 1980s, development theory has split up into two branches."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Bhagwati, J. N. (1977). The New international economic order: the North-South debate. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  • Dorfman, R. (1991). Economic development from the beginning to Rostow. Journal of Economic Literature, 29 (June), 573-591.
  • Lewis, W. Arthur. (1954). Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labor. Manchester School of Economic and Social Studies, 22, 139-91.
  • McNamara, R. S. (1981). The McNamara years at the World Bank: major policy addresses of Robert S. McNamara, 1968-1981. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Meadows, D. H. (1972). The Limits to growth; a report for the Club of Rome's project on the predicament of mankind. New York: Universe Books.

Cite this Research Paper:

APA Format

Development Theory: Realpolitik or Theoretical Vision? (2012, September 25) Retrieved October 21, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Development Theory: Realpolitik or Theoretical Vision?" 25 September 2012. Web. 21 October. 2020. <>