More than two decades have passed since the region's first attempts to move towards a development strategy that was more open to foreign competition and more deregulated, in which the State had a smaller role in production activities. Those earliest efforts were made at the start of the 1970s by Chile and were later followed by similar initiatives in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica and Brazil in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The change in development paradigm, which entailed the abandonment of the inward-oriented, state-led model of the postwar period, brought about great macro-, meso- and microeconomic changes. The production structure and the institutional and regulatory regime of the countries of the region underwent significant change as part of a profound, long-term structural transformation that is far from finished.
The combination of pro-competitive structural reforms, the historical features of each national economy and the impact of the world economy 's increasing financial turbulence and volatility triggered a Schumpeterian episode of "creative destruction" through which a new economic, institutional and technological regime is gradually emerging. The micro-and mesoeconomic features of this regime have scarcely been researched so far.
This book presents the research findings of one of the five modules of a project entitled "Growth, employment and equity: Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1990s", which was conducted jointly by the Economic Development Division and the Division of Production, Productivity and Management at ECLAC 's headquarters in Santiago, Chile. The study was carried out in close collaboration with various research centres and independent professionals from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico.
The book was originally published in Spanish under the title "Reformas Estructurales, Productividad y Conducta Tecnológica en América Latina", and it was translated into English by Andrew Crawley. I made considerable revisions in the translation,but the general arguments and conclusions nonetheless remain the same. Jennifer Hoover and Barbara Stallings are to be thanked for their editorial help in making these changes.