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Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Overview


  • Velho, Lea

    () (United Nations University, Institute for New Technologies)


This paper presents and analyses a series of indicators of the state of S&T in Latin America and the Caribbean. In doing so it compares LAC countries among themselves as well as with the industrialised countries in order to identify trends concerning the closing or widening of gaps in the capacity to produce and utilise knowledge. The findings suggest that some LAC countries have created significant capacity in research but they have not been able to build virtuous links among the various relevant social actors involved in knowledge production and use. There are problems at both the supply and demand sides. Concerning the former, universities and public research institutes, which together perform almost 70% of R&D, have not created mechanisms to identify user needs and instead base their research agenda on scientific criteria dictated by international mainstream science. On the latter, there has not much demand on local R&D given that TNCs innovate on the basis of R&D conducted in the advanced countries and local private firms, in a bid to be competitive, also prefer to import foreign technology. Government initiated schemes to correct this imbalance - including provisions for public-private collaboration, science parks and firm level research training - have been largely unsuccessful. This state of affairs is largely due to the enactment of macroeconomic policies aimed at opening up the country to foreign competition and privatising state enterprises, without putting in place the necessary measures and incentives to guarantee the investment and to diminish the risks involved in R&D. Firm and focused government intervention is necessary if such trends are to be reversed. The most obvious sphere for intervention is creating a more just society in the region, and thus granting opportunity to education to social groups currently excluded. Other policies have more direct bearing on R&D and include incentives for private sector investment in R&D and hiring of researchers. Most of all, measures must be implemented by all relevant S&T actors in terms of strengthening links among themselves

Suggested Citation

  • Velho, Lea, 2004. "Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Overview," UNU-INTECH Discussion Paper Series 2004-04, United Nations University - INTECH.
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unuint:200404

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bronwyn Hall & Alessandro Maffioli, 2008. "Evaluating the impact of technology development funds in emerging economies: evidence from Latin America," The European Journal of Development Research, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 20(2), pages 172-198.
    2. Yee Kyoung Kim & Keun Lee, 2015. "Different Impacts of Scientific and Technological Knowledge on Economic Growth: Contrasting Science and Technology Policy in East Asia and Latin America," Asian Economic Policy Review, Japan Center for Economic Research, vol. 10(1), pages 43-66, January.
    3. Dirk Libaers, 2009. "Industry relationships of DoD-funded academics and institutional changes in the US university system," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 34(5), pages 474-489, October.
    4. Nour, Samia Satti Osman Mohamed, 2010. "Assessment of science and technology indicators in Sudan," MERIT Working Papers 2010-062, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    5. Neil Foster-McGregor, 2012. "Innovation and Technology Transfer across Countries," wiiw Research Reports 380, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    6. Arza, Valeria & van Zwanenberg, Patrick, 2014. "The Politics of Technological Upgrading: International Transfer to and Adaptation of GM Cotton in Argentina," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 521-534.
    7. Jae-Yong Choung & Hye-Ran Hwang, 2013. "The evolutionary patterns of knowledge production in Korea," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 94(2), pages 629-650, February.


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