As a concept, the term “dependency” is widely used in international relations to explain the “dominant-dependent” structure of relations both among and between the nation-states. However, as a school of thought, dependency theory seeks to explain the cause of economic development and underdevelopment. Evolving in Latin America during the 1960s,the dependency theory later found favor in some writings about Africa and Asia. The dependency theory particularly became very influential in Latin America where it exerted considerable influence on government policies in the region.
With contributions from varied scholars like Prebisch, Furtado, Sunkel, Paz, Cordoso, Faletto, Dos Santos, and Marine, Latin America contributed more than any other region to the development of underdevelopment theory, in this case the dependency version. This probably explains why underdevelopment theory is largely associated with Latin America’s major contribution to the social sciences.
Apart from Latin America, the dependency theory has had varying degrees of influence in other regions like Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Even through the dependency approach has not been influential in countries like India, it has nonetheless enjoyed a visible presence. Indian Marxist scholars like Dadabhai Naoroji and M. N. Roy did contribute considerably towards the development of dependency perspective. However, the appeal of the dependency theory in India in terms of its impact on the policy circles is not at all comparable to that of the Latin American countries.
The situation in Africa, however, has been far better than that of India .It become quite influential in policy circles in Africa under the influence of the Council for the Development of Economic and Social Research (CODESRIA), the umbrella social science organization of Africa. CODESRIA in due course of time became a key Centre for the leaders of the more radical nationalist and liberation movements from Angola, Mozambique , South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia-all of whom had their own distinct theories of underdevelopment which emanated from their experiences of exploitative imperialism. The popularity of the dependency perspective in this part of the world can be gauged from the fact that Julius Nyerere, president of Tanzania, personally popularized it so much that it became part of the official ideology in independent Mozambique and Angola.