Different Schools, Same Problems: Development Theory in the Twentieth Century

  • Justin van der Merwe
  • Nicole Dodd
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


Van der Merwe and Dodd begin by analysing what is meant by the notion of underdevelopment as well as exploring its historical antecedents in Northern-led colonialism in the Global South. Reflecting on some of the major development thinking as a response to political-economic events at the time, and critiquing some of the early schools of development theory, notably modernisation theory, dependency theory, and world systems theory, the chapter highlights the tensions between endogenous and exogenous explanations for underdevelopment. The government-business-media (GBM) complex is tentatively offered as a means of reconciling these opposing explanations of underdevelopment. The GBM complex further caters for this bifurcated analysis by incorporating both descriptive (endogenous) and structural (exogenous) levels of analysis. What emerges is that asymmetrical development is hardwired into the relational aspect of capitalist development, and while country-level reforms are beneficial, they must be coupled with careful, individualised, and tailored insertion into the global political economy.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin van der Merwe
    • 1
  • Nicole Dodd
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Military StudiesUniversity of StellenboschSaldanhaSouth Africa
  2. 2.School for Human and Organisational DevelopmentUniversity of StellenboschSaldanhaSouth Africa

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