According to modernization theories, internal factors in the countries, such as illiteracy, traditional agrarian structure, the traditional attitude of the population, the low division of labour, the lack of communication and infrastructure, etc., are responsible for underdevelopment. Differences in structure and historical origin are considered of little importance; international dependencies are not taken into account.

Consequently, a change of these endogenous factors is the strategy for development. The industrialized countries are the model for economy and society, and this model will be reached sooner or later. There is a continuum between the least and the most developed country and each country has its position on this line. The difference as compared to the industrialized countries is the degree of backwardness which has to be made up for. Suitable measures are the modernization of the production apparatus, capital aid, transfer of know-how, so that the developing countries can reach the stage of industrialized countries as soon as possible. Development is seen as an increase of production and efficiency and measured primarily by comparing the per capita income.