Cooperativismo y Desarrollo, January-April 2020; 8(1), 1-6
Translated from the original in Spanish


The role of innovation in sustainable local development


Papel de la innovación en el desarrollo local sostenible


O papel da inovação no desenvolvimento local sustentável


Maricela González Pérez1

1Doctora en Ciencias Económicas. Académica Titular de la ACC. Profesora Titular. Asesora del Rector. Universidad de Pinar del Río "Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca". Pinar del Río. Cuba. ORCID: Email:


In the Cuban context of updating its economic and social model, the management of the processes is approached from a more territorial projection on a participatory basis. The participation of all local actors, whether public or private, is conceived in this context, based on the development of spaces for agreement between the different forms of management, in order to enhance the value of endogenous resources and to endogenize exogenous resources in order to achieve the strategic objectives of the locality. In it are assumed the four essential dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social, institutional and natural), as well as the necessary integration that must exist between the different levels of public management of local development. All this with the purpose of increasing the dynamics of socioeconomic development of the locality based on transformations of structural type that are sustainable and that influence in an improvement of the quality of life of the population as essential objective.

In the process of updating the Cuban economic and social model, the aim is to promote the development of the territories (municipality and province) on the basis of the country's strategy, so that the municipalities are strengthened as a fundamental instance, with the necessary autonomy, sustainable, with a solid economic-productive, socio-cultural, institutional and natural base, and the main disproportions between them are reduced, taking advantage of endogenous and exogenous resources and interactoral, interterritorial and multilevel articulation.

If it is wanted to impel local development the main purpose will be to develop the capacities of each scenario, as much material as intellectual in all the actors, for which knowledge turns out to be essential as the only resource that when distributing it is not exhausted but on the contrary is multiplied and enriched, a knowledge that allows the individual not only to know, but and most important to know to do and to know to be, for which many times institutional and organizational changes are required to create the conditions for the application in an atmosphere of interaction and dialogue of the same ones in function of the solution of the problems.

In the present time, the relationship among Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and economic growth is unquestionable, being seen as the engine to achieve and maintain sustainable competitive advantages in the market. However, this does not always bring about an increase in the welfare and quality of life of societies and nature; on the contrary, in many cases they are perceived as disconnected.

The growing disarticulation between economic growth and social inclusion, as well as the evidence that innovation is a source of greater inequalities has implied a greater emphasis on innovation as a tool to promote social development, reduction of inequalities, social inclusion, greater welfare for marginal populations, increased possibilities of access to and use of knowledge by vulnerable populations, among others (Salazar et al., 2013).

In contrast to the Shumpenterian theories of technological change and in line with the development of the theories of local development and the role that the processes of science technology and innovation play in it, currently the theories of innovation give great importance to the local dimension with its geographical, historical, cultural peculiarities with its traditions, its institutional, educational identities, given the demonstrated contextual character of it and the relativity of the degree of novelty that each one can contribute.

This type of innovation has given rise to different theoretical and conceptual proposals such as social innovation (Thomas et al., 2012), inclusive or democratic innovation (Johnson & Andersen, 2012), open innovation, etc. All of them aimed at promoting inclusive, equitable and sustainable development processes.

These typologies define and study innovation not as the task of a few privileged or enlightened people disconnected from the reality where they live and acting on their own, but as a social process, with networks of actors or agents, the participation of the government, the productive sector, communities, universities, research centers, interfaces, the education and health system, civil society, credit institutions, the media and others, interacting with each other (Núñez et al., 2008).

They start from defining innovation in its broadest sense: innovation is learning to generate and use knowledge, and to creatively combine and use existing knowledge to solve new and old problems and to seize opportunities to advance inclusive sustainable development (Lundvall, 2000).

According to Núñez (2017), the broad approach to innovation places the emphasis on the acquisition and use of knowledge and training, both productive and innovative, which incorporates Research, Development and Innovation (R+D+i) activities but also a diversity of actors that favor the production, distribution and use of knowledge: companies, cooperatives, peasant movements, extension service institutions, etc.; scientific knowledge but also every day, tacit and codified. All managed as part of a system.

The theory of innovation systems has developed mainly from the end of the last century, conditioning the modification of the traditional national systems of science and technology into national systems of science technology and innovation, which in turn have found expression at the sectoral and territorial level.

Local Innovation Systems (LIS) are based on an approach where learning processes and innovation are underpinned by practice, use and interaction, and are therefore more experience-based and interactive (Jensen et al., 2007). For Lundvall and Johnson (1994) learning is an essentially social and interactive process that depends on the institutional context that makes the creation and transmission of knowledge possible

These theoretical budgets are the most suitable, with their adaptations for the development of a local innovation system in the conditions of Cuba (Díaz-Canel, 2012; Núñez et al., 2013), and of most Latin American and Caribbean countries.

According to Núñez (2017) a local innovation system includes:

They are characterized by:

From this perspective, innovation does not only refer to high technology, it also includes gradual changes and improvements of certain relevance both in the products or services offered and in the processes that give rise to them and the structures and systems that allow for their management.

In this way, in a territory, all the actors are important; all can contribute to the development of their territory if they have the motivation and attitude to do so, beyond the available resources. National and international experiences show that material or financial resources are necessary, but that what determines the results of innovation in a company, government, territory or country are the capabilities of the people who make them up, understood as the union of knowledge, attitudes, values, skills and motivations that lead them to assume certain more or less innovative behaviors. Hence, an innovative culture is required not in a few but in most institutions, companies and communities.

For this reason, organizing and putting into operation an LIS is not an easy task, because although in most municipalities almost all the actors described above are present, the interactions and flows of information and knowledge among them do not always exist. This is one of the reasons why even when higher education institutions and research centers carry out research projects, their results are not applied in the solution of problems and far from decreasing these are increasing, on the other hand, although at a national level the rules, regulations, principles, etc. are clear, for the operation of innovation at local government level there is often a lack of policies in this respect.

In this issue of Cooperativismo y Desarrollo, readers will be able to find a variety of works, the result of contributions made by recognized national and international authors, which discuss aspects associated with innovation management at both business and local level. The different authors make a group of theoretical-methodological contributions which are at different stages of the innovation process and which are aimed at solving specific problems in business and local entities.

Among the issues addressed are: Local productive systems and tourism. Alternative for socio-economic development in Cuba and Strategy to implement knowledge management in the local agricultural innovation system. As the reader will see, these are two different moments in the creation of conditions for the functioning of an LIS. In the first case, the literature includes various experiences based on the theory of the formation of networks (of allies, productive, socio-technical, innovation, local productive arrangements, etc.) as a support for these, and in the second case, it is a matter of studying the knowledge flows within an LIS in agriculture in a municipality.

The rest of the works addresses a variety of topics that are oriented to the improvement and strengthening of the management capacities of enterprises, cooperatives and local governments: Indicators for management control oriented to excellence, for an integral forest development, Local sustainable tourism in forest areas: a theoretical approach, Determination of the intraprovincial disproportions that affect the local development of Guantanamo, Training in dynamic leadership for business managers. A challenge in the current economic situation, Conformation of synthetic indicators through the multivariate analysis of variance, Accounting systems and their contribution to the private company that applies Social Responsibility, Digital strategy to strengthen the commercial management of Cuban agricultural cooperatives, Methodological proposal for tourism to highlight the links of forest production in Pinar del Río.

Finally, comment on the need to work both from the academia and from the practice to dismantle the barriers that today oppose the innovation process and its management at local level through the local innovation systems to achieve the integration of all the actors in the territory in order to put the knowledge of all kinds at the service of the economic growth and the quality of life of the population of the territory, in which the leadership of the government is fundamental.



Díaz-Canel, M. (2012). Hacia un mayor impacto económico y social de la educación superior. Revista Nueva Empresa, 8(1), 3-10.

Jensen, M. B., Johnson, B., Lorenz, E., & Lundvall, B. (2007). Forms of knowledge and modes of innovation. Research Policy, 36(5), 680693.

Johnson, B., & Andersen, A. D. (2012). Learning, Innovation and Inclusive Development: New perspectives on economic development strategy and development aid. Aalborg Universitetsforlag.

Lundvall, B. (2000). The learning economy: Some implications for the knowledge base of health and education systems. En Knowledge Management in the Learning Society (pp. 125-141). Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD.

Lundvall, B., & Johnson, B. (1994). The Learning Economy. Industry & Innovation, 1(2), 23-42.

Núñez, J. (2017). Hacia una gestión participativa del desarrollo local. Textos de apoyo al diplomado para la implementación del Sistema de Innovación Agropecuaria Local. Ediciones INCA.

Núñez, J., Armas, I., Alcázar, A., & Figueroa, G. (2013). Educación superior, innovación y desarrollo local: Experiencias en Cuba. Universidad de La Habana, 276, 137-162.

Núñez, J., Montalvo, L. F., Pérez, I., García, J. L., & Fernández, A. (2008). Universidad, Innovación y Sociedad: La universidad cubana en el sistema nacional de innovación. Cátedras de Integración Andrés Bello, 4, 123-184.

Salazar, M., Lozano Borda, M., & Lucio Arias, D. (2013). Ciencia, tecnología e innovación para un desarrollo inclusivo en Colombia: Programas piloto desarrollados por Colciencias. En G. Dutrénit & J. Sutz (Eds.), Sistemas de innovación para un desarrollo inclusivo. La experiencia Latinoamericana. Foro Consultivo Científico y Tecnológico, A.C.

Thomas, H., Fressoli, M., & Becerra, L. (2012). Science and technology policy and social ex/inclusion: Analyzing opportunities and constraints in Brazil and Argentina. Science and Public Policy, 39(5), 579-591.


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Copyright (c) Maricela González Pérez