What is Development?

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Development is a process that creates growth, progress and positive change. It has physical, economic, social and environmental components. The goal of development is to raise the standard and quality of living for people while ensuring a healthy planet.

The concept of development has evolved over time. Early Western theories like mercantilism and neoclassical economics emphasized capital accumulation, market forces, and the dominance of trade. These theories focused little on developing nations and their unique challenges. The emergence of post-WWII reconstruction and East Asian “tiger” economies in the 1950s sparked new development thinking and a recognition that nations had different paths to industrialization.

Today, sustainable development is one of the core objectives of the United Nations and encompasses economic, social, and environmental elements of human well-being. In addition to a reduction in poverty, it includes environmental protection, gender equality, literacy, and public health. Poverty is a central development problem because it undermines all the other goals of sustainable development, from good health to a clean environment.

Employee development is an important element of company development. By framing development conversations in terms of individual growth – rather than compensation or job status – managers can encourage employees to reach their full potential. The result is increased employee morale and a more engaged workplace. This is also a key way to demonstrate that you care about your employees. In turn, this increases employee loyalty and improves performance. For more on this topic, see our article on Employee Development.