Development theories are about understanding how the processes of change in societies take place. Scholars from historically less-developed parts of Europe, and from the colonial world, contributed to the construction of modern theories of development in the 1940s, stressing the role of the state. In contrast, critique from left-wing and liberal perspectives gave priority to the role of the market by the 1980s. Yet the apparent success of Newly Industrialized Countries supported neither of these two orthodoxies. Instead the East Asian story, together with reflection upon the failures of the Washington Consensus, inspired a renewal of development theory, recognizing the need for institutional diversity. The history of development theories suggests that specialists should resist pressures to embrace consensus, as no theory is immune to changes in social values or current policy problems.
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