Video: Ideas@IDRC: David Williams
Dr. Williams shares his perspective on development thought and explains the three tensions outlined in this chapter. Produced during the Development Ideas authors’ workshop, Ottawa 2011. ©IDRC/CRDI (French transcript)

— Abstract

This chapter’s examination of how the problems and processes of ‘development’ have been studied surfaces three tensions. First, there is a tension between generating widely applicable knowledge and policy prescriptions, and learning from particular development successes and failures. Second, the tension between knowledge of ‘development’ as a process of structural transformation (which in some way replicates the transition to ‘modernity’), and knowledge of particular problems and issues associated with a lack of development (access to clean water, maternal mortality, etc.). The third tension arises as other academic disciplines make contributions that challenge the place of economics as the primary discipline for the study of development. The chapter concludes by pointing to an increased recognition of these tensions and how this would help to steer a path through them.

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— Suggested Readings

Atkinson, G., Dietz, S., Neumayer, E., & Agarwala, M. (Eds.). (2014). Handbook of sustainable development. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Gilpin, R. (2011). Global political economy: Understanding the international economic order. Princeton University Press.

Gilman, Nils. (2003). Mandarins of the Future: modernization theory in Cold War America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Harriss, John. (2002) 'The Case for Cross-disciplinary Approaches in International Development', World Development, 30(3): 487-96. [PDF 250KB]

Helleiner, Gerry. K. (1990). The new global economy and the developing countries: Essays in international economics and development. Aldershot, Hants, England: E. Elgar.

Kenny, Charles and Williams, David. (2001) ‘What do we know about economic growth? Or, Why don’t we know very much?’ World Development, 29(1): 1-22.

Rodrik, Dani. (2007) One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions and Economic Growth. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [PDF 5MB]

World Bank. (2005). Economic Growth in the 1990s: learning from a decade of growth. Washington, DC, World Bank.