What Is Development?

Development is growth and progress over time. It can be seen in the progression of a child from childhood to adulthood, or it could mean a company growing and improving through training and mentoring programs. It can also be applied to a nation or region as a way of increasing its economic or social status.

When you hear the term “development,” it usually carries positive connotations and implies a move away from underdevelopment, which is characterized by poverty, hunger, disease and poor education. Some of the more common measures of development include GDP per capita, health indicators and a country’s literacy rate.

There is no one correct definition of development, but researchers use different assumptions about human nature to guide their work in this field. These assumptions are called meta-theories. They often reflect the beliefs, research methods and knowledge bases of multiple academic disciplines.

Lifespan theorists, for example, believe that humans develop throughout their entire lives. They also emphasize that human development is embedded in the many social contexts and historical periods within which people live.

For example, Erikson’s model of lifespan development shifted the focus from Freud’s emphasis on sexuality to social relationships as an important factor in human growth and change. He theorized that each stage in life brings its own psychosocial crisis, and successful development means dealing with these crises in a healthy manner.

Sustainable development focuses on meeting long-term goals for human and environmental well-being in ways that are equitable and balanced. For example, a sustainable approach to business development would consider how the organization’s activities can help employees gain new skills and advance their careers, while simultaneously reducing its impact on the environment.