Volume 44, Number 172,
January-March 2013
Higher Education and Research for
Productive International Competitiveness
Iris Guevara*
Date received: February 11, 2012. Date accepted: August 10, 2012

Economic globalization demands that economies increase their competitiveness. Although competitiveness is usually associated with companies, there are a series of macroeconomic factors that determine it —based on the capacity to generate and spread technical progress— linked to actions from the State, including public policies and institutions.

“Competitiveness is, as such, a systemic phenomenon that implies being competitive in everything, from companies to national economic sectors, the government and institutions” (Villareal, 2007: 325).

It could even be said that nowadays, competitiveness responds to an entire institutional and contextual environment that promotes, fosters and guarantees the values of individual and collective economic competition.

Recognizing these interrelationships, the goal of this work is to analyze the higher education-science-technology relationship with competitiveness. Globalization creates a stronger link between knowledge generation and its application to productive processes, which increases competition. This work exists in the context of Mexico’s falling participation in higher education, science and technology and the adoption of neoliberal policies.


Globalization, which began in the 1980s, and followed on the heels of the global crisis in the mid-1970s, has brought about substantial changes in the capital reproduction process and modifications to capitalist reproduction.

Some transformations have had a qualitative impact on the changes recently experienced in capitalist society, among which the following stand out: the information and communication revolution, as well as biotechnology, nanotechnology, microelectronics and the use of new materials. These advances impact the industry and services in general, particularly the commercial and financial sectors.

In this way, transformations to the productive forces changed economic, societal, cultural and geopolitical development on a global level. In the economic field, revolutionary new industries arose, such as the semiconductor, the computer and software, and together with new programmable equipment and computer networks, they transformed the set of production conditions (flexible automation, breakdown of productive processes) and turned knowledge into the principal productive force of the age.

The information revolution is a product of the microelectronics revolution and allowed for the flexible automation of productive processes, the introduction of the computer and computer networks and the communication revolution. Moreover, it gave rise to the so-called knowledge economy, in short, which increased productivity (Dabat, 2002). The knowledge economy is based on the intensive use of information, knowledge and technology for value creation to expand economic activities.

The major technological changes arose from a transformation of the global economy, and the fundamental variables of this transformation were information and knowledge. “The force that turned an industrial society into a knowledge economy is increased productivity. The transition to this new economy is a phenomenon present in highly industrialized countries” (Aguilar, 2002: 110).

The knowledge economy assumes and also brings about multiple changes in organizational forms. “The truly spectacular advances of the last decades in terms of computation, communication and information technology have enormously advanced the capacity of researchers and businessmen to create new knowledge, products and services” (bm and unesco, 2002: 36). Service companies dominate the new economy and even manufacturing firms are more and more oriented towards services.

* Researcher at the unam Institute for Economic Research, Mexico. E-mail: rosairis@unam.mx

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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