Volume 45 Number 178,
July-September 2014

Science, Technology and Innovation in Mexican and Latin American Development. The Challenges of Science, Technology and Innovation. Development, Education and Labor, Volume I, María del Carmen del Valle, Ana Mariño and Ismael Núñez (coords.), IIEC-UNAM, 2013.

Science, technology and innovation constitute a challenge to development that Mexico and Latin America have yet to address. Reflecting on and analyzing these relevant topics will be a priority in an increasingly globalized and competitive world. In this work, the coordinators introduce ten chapters focused on three fundamental pillars to understand this area of knowledge: 1. The history and current state of development, science and technology in Latin America, 2. Educational institutions and 3. Jobs and innovation.

In chapter one of the first section, Alejandro Dabata presents a historical perspective of development and technical progress in Latin America. This work explains how the region has developed in economic and technological terms, starting in the twentieth century, discussing the factors that have played a role in industrialization and its later exhaustion, the insertion of the region in a neoliberal setting with unequal conditions, social crises and segmentation within the new globalized order.

The second chapter, by Jaime Osorio, analyzes the relationship of dependency between capitalism, knowledge and technology, helping explain the gaps between central and peripheral countries, with a special focus on Latin America. The author's main hypothesis is based on the heterogeneous existence of imperial and dependent economies, where the relationship between the two is determined by the former’s capacity to generate knowledge and value, while the latter merely develop the mechanisms to transfer and reproduce processes.

In chapter three, Óscar Galante, Manuel Marí, Raúl Carnota, Federico Vasen and Olga Benso revive valuable ideas from the Latin American School of Thought in Science, Technology and Development (ELAPCYTED), highlighting major contributions made by authors in this school of thought. They also provide illustrative examples of ad hoc cases of scientific and technology entrepreneurship in Argentina and Brazil.

In chapter four, Rodrigo Arocena and Judith Sutz analyze research and innovation policies that promote social inclusion in Latin America. They argue that one of the major problems facing developing countries is a low demand for knowledge, which generates significant issues in creating policies oriented towards scientific and technological progress and innovation.

In chapter five, Ana Mariño Jaso proposes a periodization of Latin American science and technology to better study and understand its history. The author emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between how science and technology has developed in different latitudes. It is therefore important to adjust this proposal to the reality of each region. She points out that Latin America is considerably behind in this area and provides an overview of the topic, a sort of regional periodization.

In the second section, in chapter six, Esther Orozco analyzes the role of universities in knowledge societies in terms of the scientific research they contribute. She writes that since their inception, universities have been charged with generating and transmitting knowledge, as well as promoting the formation of individuals and their values, attitudes, skills and capacities.

In chapter seven, Juan Arancibia Córdova discusses the educational transformations that have taken place in Latin America since the 1980s, influenced by international organizations such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, which have, on the one hand, helped finance these shifts, and on the other, promoted neoliberal reforms through their own policies. The author reflects mainly on the role of these institutions in training human resources in the global and neoliberal economy in an environment of capitalist policies.

Chapter eight, by Rosa Iris Guevara González, analyzes the role of education, science and technology in Mexican development. One of the most relevant aspects of her analysis is the overwhelming need to increasing educational spending on science and technology, especially for higher education, to help the country become more competitive in the global market, but not through low salaries.

In the third section of the book, in chapter nine, Patricia Olave questions how to incorporate science, technology and innovation in development without affecting the conditions faced by the workforce. One of her main conclusions is that introducing new technologies has accelerated worker exploitation in peripheral economies where labor is abundant and cheap, and that these new technologies really only serve the interests of capitalist economies in producing goods.

Finally, Gerardo González Chávez, in chapter ten, provides a focused analysis and study of labor market trends in the global economy, where skilled labor is increasingly required to handle new technologies. His study ascertains that in Mexico, where the labor market has clearly deteriorated, it is time to implement policies that increase the purchasing power of employees and generate quality jobs while also driving forward the economy as a whole.

Overall, the book is a valuable set of studies to improve how we understand, analyze and track issues afflicting Latin American development in the realms of science, technology and innovation. However, subsequent works will have to incorporate analysis on other countries in the region. Despite the plurality that characterizes Latin America, efforts should be made to develop more defined proposals to achieve progress and integration for countries in the region and strengthen their capacities from an endogenous development perspective in a global market in which technology predominates.

Alejandro Barragán
State of Mexico Autonomous University

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 193, April-June 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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