Dependency theories have provided an alternative approach to looking at unilinear growth models. They have critically evaluated the continued unequal relationships between countries, which have their history partly in colonialism and imperialism.
While the dependency theories have provided a welcome critique from the South about the North, they were not without some shortcomings and critics. The principal criticism of dependency theories has been that the school does not provide any substantive empirical evidences to support its arguments. There are few examples that are provided but many exceptions are there which do not fit in with their core periphery theory, like the newly emerged industrial countries of South East Asia.
It has also been said that dependency theories are highly abstract and tend to use homogenising categories such as developed and underdeveloped, which do not fully capture the variations within these categories. Another point of criticism is that the dependency school considers ties with multinational corporations as detrimental, while one view has been that they are important means of transfer of technology. Another criticism which is leveled against the dependency theorists is that they base their arguments on received notions such as nation-state, capitalism and industrialisation.
Some of the Eurocentric biases are inherited in these theories of dependency school: for example they assume that industrialisation and possession of industrial capital are crucial requisites for economic progress. There is an inability to think beyond the state as the primary and essential agent of economic development. Also there is a Eurocentric bias in overlooking or de- emphasising of production undertaken by women, and in not realising the hazardous implications for the environment of industrialisation and over exploitation of resources.
A singular criticism, which is charged against the dependency theories, is that they do not reflect the changed socio-economic and political situations of the contemporary world. While many of the criticisms are justified, what we need to ask ourselves is whether the essential ideas and the ideology behind the dependency theory has any relevance in the present context?