This article seeks to rethink the conceptual framework for the formulation of industrial policy in the conditions currently being faced by most of the more industrialized countries of the region; it may be noted that the debate has very similar features in the economies at an intermediate level of industrial development too. The authors review the different theories on government intervention (section II); and the industrial policy arguments (section III);. They then consider the situation of the developing countries, taking a structuralist view (section IV); and the interaction of the macro- and microeconomic levels (section V);, after which they briefly review the debate in the World Bank on these matters (section VI); and set forth the systemic approach taken by ECLAC (section VII);. In their final reflections (section VIII); they argue that every new industrial proposal must take account of the beneficial lessons of the past and the problems associated with the errors made on the way, and they emphasize the need to overcome such limitations and shortcomings in order to follow paths that will lead to the acquisition of dynamic comparative advantages. A system based on an explicit industrial policy will provide coordination mechanisms which are lacking in a free-market economy but can be more efficient in a context where the interdependence and special nature of the assets involved are given importance. Industrial policy must help to coordinate economic change, encourage experimentation and preserve diversity.