from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Interdependence means mutual dependence ( dependency ). “Social” interdependence is understood to mean that people are attuned to and dependent on one another in their existence .

In economic theory , one speaks of interdependence when economic variables influence one another. Example: the follower effect in household theory .

Types of interdependencies

  • Subject interdependencies
  • Behavioral interdependencies
  • Competing interdependencies: the optimal alternatives of two decision-makers A and B cannot be realized at the same time
  • Promoting interdependencies: A's decision for the best alternative of his own promotes the best alternative for person B.
  • Pooled interdependencies: several organizational units use the same limited amount of resources
  • Ethics of interdependence

Economics and Social Sciences

Social Psychology and Group Dynamics

See also: Dependency model in group dynamics

As an inter-person dependency, it plays a special role when looking at relationships and interactions in social psychology and group dynamics . An interdependence here is a mutual dependence of two or more people, i. H. the behavior of person A influences the behavior of B - the latter in turn has a retroactive effect on A. Example: woman and man, leader and group, state and population.

In contrast, a dependency is a dependency with no retroactive effect or reciprocity. From a systemic point of view, one-sided dependence is a limited consideration (temporal or subsystem). When looking more broadly, there is always an interdependence.

Under Konterdependenz is meant a directed against the other attitude, based simultaneously on a dependency. Example: NPP opponents and NPP operators or the state, employers and trade unions, parents and pubescent children.

Interdependence exists in a relationship when the behavior of one person determines that of the other and vice versa.

“Everyone knows what it means when one thing depends on another. But if this other, second thing depends to the same extent on the first, then this form of relationship is called interdependent. "

In his book How Really Is Reality Paul Watzlawick tries to clarify his definition by means of the prisoner's dilemma .

Human situations that have the structure of the prisoner's dilemma occur wherever people are in a state of disinformation but have to make a joint decision and lack the opportunity for direct communication.

There are two reasons for this:

  • Lack of mutual trust
  • physical impossibility to communicate

In real life, the presence of either of these factors is enough to create this dilemma. Interdependent decisions have a chance of success only if they are based on a conception of reality shared by both partners, the minimum agreement of which is not to see reality in a temporal-causal way. This is only possible in processes that are limited in space and time.

Interdependencies between people and groups arise from different distributions of power and recognition . A shared and mutually agreed division of tasks also creates corresponding areas of responsibility and causes dependency and interdependence between these areas with regard to the overall task.

These interdependencies occur in relationships between people in any situation. A couple tries to go through life together (= common task) or the departments of a company have to consider their interdependencies in order to be able to offer a customer-oriented product.

Political science

In political science, the term is used both generally and specifically in the area of international relations . In general, in political science, mutual dependencies between at least two actors , political processes or issues are described as interdependent (or interdependent). In the political science sub-area of ​​international relations, interdependence denotes mutual dependencies between states and, if necessary, other (internationally relevant) actors, in particular those that influence the sovereignty of the states / actors involved. In accordance with the interdependence theory approach , interdependence on the international level increases with the degree of economic integration and the range of military weapons. Interdependence and changes in the level of interdependence are often associated with an unequal distribution of costs and benefits between the actors involved.

For the political science application of the term, a distinction can generally be made between different forms of interdependence:

  • If the dependency on the part of the actors involved is roughly equally pronounced, then the interdependence can be described as symmetrical; accordingly, asymmetrical interdependence occurs when the dependencies are unevenly distributed.
  • If parts of a system mutually fulfill tasks for one another, there is functional interdependence.
  • If several actors access a resource pool, this is referred to as pooled interdependence. This can be distinguished from sequential interdependence, in which the output of one actor corresponds to the input of another actor, and requires common rules of the actors involved.
  • If the decisions of the actors involved are mutually dependent on one another, there is reciprocal interdependence.

Business administration

The complex tasks of industrial and service companies require a well thought-out division of tasks. In addition to the purely efficient provision of services, the use of efficient information tools, the observance of cultural conditions in different parts of our earth and environmental goals are a major challenge.

Due to the complex interdependencies that arise due to the division of tasks in internationally active companies, corporate management is particularly dependent on professional control and coordination instruments. These should align all parts of the company with the corporate goal.

The coordination-oriented controlling has worked out such instruments as well as further solutions.

The use of integrated, departmental or cross-company application software (integrated application systems) also plays a decisive role in the handling of interdependencies in companies.


According to existential-phenomenological view, it is part of the human way of existence that we are always in relation to other people. According to Løgstrup ( Knud Ejler Løgstrup ) all of these relationships are characterized by interdependence, i.e. mutual dependency. that is, that all human relations involve the mutual exercise of power. The elementary form of power can be called the power of personal relationships. At the fundamental level, interdependence consists in the fact that we cannot behave personally to other people - communicate with them, deal with them - without delivering ourselves up. Reaching out to another, speaking to them, includes the expectation of being taken seriously by the other person and of receiving answers. Such an expectation is an exposure, a self-surrender. And in the self-surrender of one lies the power of the other.


Web links

Wiktionary: Interdependence  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Theodor Geiger : preliminary studies for a sociology of law. With an introduction and an international bibliography on the sociology of law by Paul Trappe. Luchterhand Neuwied am Rhein 1964 (first: Copenhagen 1947), p. 46 f.
  2. a b Cf. Manfred G. Schmidt : Interdependenz. In: ders .: Dictionary on Politics (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 404). 2nd, completely revised and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-520-40402-8 , p. 324.
  3. Svend Anderson: Introduction to Ethics (translation: Ingrid Oberborbeck). Walter de Gruyter Verlag, Berlin, 2015, 2nd edition, p. 265.