(1985) “Microelectronics, Long Waves and Technical Change: New Perspectives for Developing Countries”, World Development, Vol. 13, Nº 3, pp. 441-463
In the early 1980s, Perez was the first director of Technological Development at the Ministry of Industry in Venezuela, her home country. This article took her burgeoning theories on technological revolutions and long-waves and applied them to the context of developing nations. It also explicated further the potential characteristics of what she recognised as the emerging ‘microelectronics’ revolution and how it would allow developing countries to catch up. It was not yet clear that South Korea would become a developed country, together with the other three ‘Asian Tigers’, much less that China would make such a leap forward.
At the time, there was a ferocious debate between the proponents of the structural adjustment policies put into effect in most of the developing world. What Perez already understood was the inevitable globalisation and the new opportunities for innovation in less developed countries. She saw the previously successful protected import substitution policies as no longer viable given the maturing techno-economic paradigm on which they were based. Having studied historical ‘upswings’ and ‘downswings’ within the Kondratiev-Schumpeterian framework, she suggests that recessions are manifestations of a ‘mismatch’ between the socio-institutional framework and techno-economic sphere. Her argument is that the structural changes brought by microelectronics would open up a new space for development thinking, as the global economy shifted from energy and materials intensity to information intensity, and production from mass to flexible styles, both changing in accordance with the organizational efficiency made possible by ICT. In the paper, she predicted that the new ‘common sense’ logic and practices that are, indeed, now emerging, would reduce and/or challenge some of the obstacles facing Latin America, Africa and other emerging economies. However, she warns that in order to reap the benefit of this new context, new national and international institutions and policies are needed, whose existence is down to the outcome of an intensive process of social confrontation, creativity and compromise.