Volume 45 Number 178,
July-September 2014

Science, Technology and Innovation in Mexican and Latin American Development. Innovation and Learning Dynamics in Territories and Productive Sectors, Volume II, María del Carmen del Valle, Ana Mariño and Ismael Núñez (coords.), IIEC-UNAM, 2013.

In recent decades, studying how we learn and innovate has become a key element of technological and economic progress, gaining relevance in how countries generate and assimilate knowledge for territorial development. This text emerges from this analytical logic, bringing together works presented and discussed by renowned experts at the International Seminar, “Science, Technology and Innovation in Latin American Development,” held at the UNAM Institute of Economic Research in 2010.

The book is carefully divided into two topics. The first encompasses six of the eight chapters and is entitled Structure and Productive Sectors. María del Carmen del Valle presents her study, “Knowledge, Learning and Innovation in Mexican Agricultural and Rural Development,” in which she begins by analyzing the unfortunate state of the agricultural and rural sector, emphasizing the need and importance of promoting a new rural development model based on recognizing and taking advantage of the sociocultural, socio-territorial and institutional features of local spaces. In the framework of the knowledge and learning society, the author relies on the theoretical proposal of instituting a systemic relationship among major actors in innovation: a) the productive structure, b) the scientific-technological structure and c) the State and the institutional environment. She analyzes these ideas in two case studies (the production of bio-fertilizers and organic milk and lactose products).

In the second chapter, “Agricultural Craftwork, Biotechnology and Genomics and Sustainability: Challenges to Innovation in the Twenty-First Century,” Yolanda Cristina Massieu takes a critical and ethical perspective to describe the lack of an interdisciplinary approach in innovation studies to consider the specificities of productive sectors (industrial, agricultural, biotechnology) and prioritize the topic of sustainability in deploying technologies to modernize agriculture, such as biotechnology and genomics. Massieu introduces four case studies on Mexican agriculture that highlight elements that might redirect projects from above.

In the third chapter, Juan Carlos Villa wrote an interesting academic essay entitled, “Trust, a Key Factor in Agricultural and Livestock Development Strategies Based on Innovation,” which ascertains the importance of trust (as an intrinsic element of social capital) in organizing and valuating local resources. Starting with a small-scale livestock case study, the author centers the debate around the organization of producers as major actors in technology innovation. He also proposes a strategy for rural competitiveness and development, and the interaction required between local institutions (specifically governmental and research institutions) to spark development.

In the fourth chapter, “Learning Processes and Building Capacities in the Mexican Agricultural Sector. The Case of Jamaica Producers Linked to the Produce Puebla Foundation,” the authors Arturo Torres, Alexandre O. Vera-Cruz and Marlene Leyva continue the thread regarding the importance of applying innovation to make the productive systems of small producers successful. Their research provides a step forward, demonstrating the predominant role of institutions, in this case, the Produce Puebla Foundation, in researching and spreading new learning processes for development and taking advantage of endogenous capacities.

The fifth chapter, written by Sergio Ordoñez, “Global Crisis and Computers and Electronics Innovation in Latin America,” analyzes the current crisis from the perspective of the development of knowledge capitalism and computers and electronics sector trends. The author proposes that the new phase of development has emerged from the linkage of the scientific-educational sector and social production, where the way in which knowledge is accumulated and circulated has a direct impact on each of the spheres of economic reproduction.

In the sixth chapter, Javier Jasso and María de Lourdes Marquina present, “Innovation in Services: Issues and Reflections Regarding the Mexican Public Health Sector.” They reflect on the need to link the service sector with the manufacturing industry (service-manufacturing), given their close relationship and the reduced participation of the manufacturing sector in economic production. It is interesting how the authors, from a theoretical perspective, highlight the importance of organizational changes as inextricable from service sector innovations.

The first chapter of the second part of the work, Innovation, Territories and Development Processes, is entitled, “Territory and Technology in Latin America: An Approach to Analyzing the Territorial Dimensions of Technology Development.” Ryszard E. Rózga and Celia Hernández debate the idea of territory, implicitly present in each of the previous works. They are interested in the implication of territory in Latin American starting with new technologies in the history of transportation and contributing to the debate on technology dependence. The point to a geographic reconfiguration of local Latin American spaces based on external interests.

The second work in this section, which concludes the book, is called, “Coevolution and Economic Development: Evidence from Mexico and Israel,” authored by Gabriela Dutrénit, Martín Puchet and Morris Teubal. They present a conceptual framework in which to analyze the coevolution of science, technology and higher education in industrialized economies and the link to the emergence of high-level organizations. The authors analyze the stages and moments in time that oriented the technology paths taken in each country. From a systemic-evolutionary perspective, they study how innovation affects economic growth and brings about structural changes.

Evaluating the open economy model, this work’s contributions rest not only on analyzing the major problems and challenges facing technological development and the knowledge economy from a Latin American perspective, but also in elucidating the specific dynamics of innovation and learning in productive activities within a particular institutional and social system.

Jessica Tolentino
Institute of Economic Research – unam

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 192, January-March 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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