A new approach to understanding social and economic development is proposed, based on consideration of the evolution of coordination mechanisms. The work consists of two parts. In the first part, a critical analysis of four recently proposed theories of social development, focusing on geographical, institutional or cultural factors, is given. These theories have greatly enriched our understanding of the evolution of society, however, as analysis shows, none of them provides a satisfactory description of the driving forces and mechanisms of this evolution; the main reason is rooted in their common deficiency — monocausality. It is proposed to distinguish between two types of development, catching up and leading. The basic ideas of the theory of catching up development are presented. This... approach makes it possible to explain the phenomenon of the “economic miracle” as a result of mutually conditioned changes in culture, institutions, technological progress and well-being in the context of interaction of competition, power and collaboration mechanisms.The second part is devoted to the theory of leading socioeconomic development. It is shown how in Western Europe, as a result of the interaction of the above four factors, specific forms and combinations of the three main mechanisms of coordination — competition, power and collaboration — emerged at each stage of evolution. I emphasize the importance of ideology and the phenomenon of technical progress in the formation of institutions of economic and political competition that contributed to the creation of the welfare state. These changes and economic growth created the conditions for further transformation of civil culture: increasing levels of trust, tolerance, altruism and cosmopolitanism, expanding the planning horizon. The decrease in the level of coercion built into the mechanisms of power and competition are demonstrated as well as the expansion of the role of collaboration. A hypothesis is advanced that the speed of this process depends on geographical factors. The idea of the welfare world is discussed.