The main author of growth poles theory, created in the 1950s, was Francois Perroux (1903–1987). The key and the most important theoretical foundation of the whole concept was Perroux´s argument which explains the procedure of economic growth in the following way: "It is a blunt and indisputable fact that growth is not uniform in different places but growth has different degrees of intensity in different point, or poles, and then it spreads via channels and its final result for the state economy is different in different regions" (Vystoupil, 2003).

According to growth poles theory the propulsive pole is a business unit (a company, industry) or a set of these units and these units are the main force of the economic development as they generate growth through the impact of strong input-output linkages (Adamčík, 2002). All other industries, which lack the strong character, are called propelled. To summarize, in this theory the economic development of a regions depends on the intensity of the propulsive industries on the propelled.

This classification then creates polarization of space. Perroux also identified the terms dominant region which is the region where poles of development are concentrated, and dominated region which is a region where side poles are concentrated and which develop economic activities affected by the demand from dominant region were labor comes from (Vystoupil, 2003).

Growth poles theory thus documents the contribution of polarization to the development of poles as well as peripheries and this theory identifies 4 basic types of polarization (Adamčík, 2002):

This theory reached the height of its popularity in the 1950s and 1960s as it was used in regional politics of many countries (e.g. France and Italy). The propulsive industries included automotive industry, steel and chemistry with the location of new manufacturing facilities being directed to the developing regions (e.g. the south of Italy) to start the development of these problematic regions (Blazek and Uhlíř, 2002).

The results, however, fell behind expectations with the reasons for this failure being (according to Blazek, 2008):

In connection with the theory of growth poles there have been proposals which pointed out that there are instances of economic growth which happen in the regions without growth poles which means that the presence of growth poles is not essential for economic growth (Vystoupil, 2003) - Adamčík (2002) mentions Switzerland (where tourism is not concentrated in poles but spread all over the country) and Denmark (the prosperity of which was not initiated and maintained due to a large propulsive company).

These observations do not object, according to Vystoupil (2003), to the theory as a whole but mean to show the possibility of exceptions. The same author then proposes that in spite of certain drawbacks the theory of growth poles makes several contributions:

Regional implications of the growth poles theory was proposed by a French economist Jacques Boudeville (born 1919) who called his modified theory the theory of growth centers and growth axis (Blazek, 2008). Boudeville´s concept of principal cities system was utilized in practice, for instance, in the spatial planning of France with the following result (Vystoupil, 2003):

The primary purposed of this principal cities system was to focus investments in the 8 regional (compensatory) metropolis with the main objective of decreasing regional inequalities between fast-growing Paris and other, slower-growing regions.