Factors certainly affect important aspects
This contributed to creating a climate of distrust within each sector that has always annihilated any possibility of cooperation. Honorable exceptions are the automakers and their relationships with auto parts suppliers in Argentina, Brazil or Mexico. But this deviation from the rule is probably due to the fact that these are sectors where foreign capital predominates.
Porter & Stern (2002) mention Latin America and highlight the region’s great vulnerability, with regard to the emergence of innovations, the little connection between companies and universities. According to them, “The higher education system in Latin America has little connection with companies and very little involvement with national policies aimed at science and technology”.
This is confirmed by other authors
who have devoted themselves to analyzing the continent’s scientific and technological issue. Sagasti (1981, p.195-202) points out as one of the chronic problems in Latin America the enormous gap between the production of science and the generation of technology, which, according to him, is a consequence of the lack of relationship between the university and
The huge distance between the university and the companies is also placed by Millan & Concheiro (2000, p.370-3) when they analyze the reasons for Mexico’s delay in matters of science and technology. And they go further, mentioning that an additional reason for the country’s delay in this issue is the lack of an industrial policy that defined the priority areas for investments,
- and make it clear that, unlike the more developed countries, where those who invest the most in R&D they are companies, in the case of Mexico this expenditure is mostly made by the government. Thus, while in Japan, Germany
- and the United States, private companies are responsible, respectively, for 67.1%, 61.1% and 58.4% of total R&D spending, in Mexico this figure is only
- 17 , 6%. This, incidentally, is also a characteristic of Brazil,
as shown in the text produced by Prof. Carlos Henrique Brito Cruz in 2002, The University, the company and research. In this work, Brito Cruz compares Brazil and Korea due to the number of engineers, scientists and researchers working in R&D. Although Brazil has a population four times greater than that of Korea, the number of workers in these functions in that country is greater, reaching
Small presence of Latin America,
159,773 people, while here it totals 125,645 people. Both data refer to 2001. But in Brazil only 23% of these people are in private companies, while in Korea this percentage is 59%. Thus, the vast majority of Brazilians who work in research, around 77% of the total number of researchers, are either at the university or in the institutes maintained by the government, while in Korea only 41% of the total number of researchers work in these institutions.
- British magazine Nature produced a special edition called “Science in Latin America”. The article dedicated to Mexico contains an important
- analysis of a fact that helps explain the figures cited here and that are repeated throughout the continent:
- Part of the problem is cultural. Mexico inherited the European tradition of the scientist as an academic and not the American model of the inventing scientist and entrepreneur.
For a university researcher, having a connection with the industry is considered prostitution by colleagues. On the industry side, there is no strong tradition of investment in R&D. Until the early 1980s, Mexico had an industrial policy of state ownership and protectionism that resulted in little incentive to invest in innovation. Now companies want to modernize their technology, but they turn more to foreign
companies for help, and they are not willing to wait the necessary time for national science and technology to find answers to their needs. We conclude with Montaner (2000 ) and its bitter explanation for the almost non-existent relationship between companies and innovation on our continent: “The real tragedy in Latin America is that capital is limited and a large
Part of it is in the hands of entrepreneurs
not committed to risk or innovation, but with speculation … They are not modern capitalists, but they act as lords of the land of feudal tradition “. Final considerations Over the past 40 years, the nations of Latin America have experienced different conceptions of economic models, have gone through phases of moderate growth and stagnation, but, in general, the main problems in the region remain unresolved.
Despite a few honorable exceptions, the issue of inequality in income distribution, illiteracy, misery and hunger remains a serious problem for almost all countries in the region. Although the continent is rich in natural resources, its role in terms of impact on the world economy is still very small. According to OECD data, despite having 9% of the Earth’s population,
- Latin America’s GDP is less than 4% of world GDP, and if we consider participation in international trade, our rate is only 3.5%. As we showed earlier, the situation is even worse for large global companies: among the 1,200 largest
- companies in the world according to BusinessWeek magazine, only 31 are from our region. Several theories have been developed to try to explain this backwardness, but little attention has been paid to cultural factors.
As we saw in the present article, these such as the competence to manage companies or the ability to launch innovations. However, basing its development on natural resources is not the only characteristic related to the geography of the region that affects the existence or not of technological innovations. The low investment in education, the small infrastructure destined to