As a rule, in the Third World, social scientists and governments present their economic strategies in terms of national ends—typically, in the 1980's, as some variant of a supply-side, basic-needs or socialist approach. Similarly, in South Africa, the debate on policies to transform the economy away from apartheid often focused on the feasibility and desirability of different social systems. Yet each strategy originally arose out of a particular analysis of problems commonly afflicting Third World countries, including South Africa. Making that analysis explicit permits a more systematic evaluation of its applicability to South Africa and other countries. To facilitate such an assessment, this article reframes the three development strategies that rose to prominence in the 1980's in line with a problem-oriented, explanatory methodology, and suggests how each general analysis would apply in South Africa.