The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 300–318 | Cite as

The Mexican Exception: Patents and Innovation Policy in a Non-conformist and Reluctant Middle Income Country

  • Kenneth C Shadlen
Original Article


This article analyzes patent and innovation policies in Mexico. Unlike many developing countries, Mexico has enthusiastically embraced external pressures for stronger patent protection. Yet, also unlike other countries, Mexico has not complemented changes to its patent regime with measures to buttress science, technology and innovative (STI) capabilities. To explain this atypical trajectory, I focus on the shape of political coalitions in the areas of patents and STI policies. The early adoption of a strong patent regime, combined with liberalization and internationalization of the economy, consolidated a coalition based on a low-technological form of integration into the global economy, and the same processes withered away the coalition that might have pushed for an alternative project. Understanding the political underpinnings of Mexico's behavior sheds light on the conditions under which middle-income developing countries may engage in issue leadership and join with other developing countries to shape the international economic architecture.


Latin America Mexico development patents innovation 


Cet article analyse les politiques de brevets et d′innovation au Mexique. Contrairement à de nombreux pays en développement, le Mexique a accueilli avec enthousiasme les pressions extérieures visant à renforcer la protection par brevets. Pourtant, au Mexique, contrairement à d′autres pays, la transformation du système de brevets n′a pas été accompagnée de mesures pour renforcer ses capacités scientifiques, technologiques et innovantes. Pour rendre compte de cette trajectoire atypique, j′examine l’évolution des coalitions politiques dans les domaines des brevets et des politiques STI. L′adoption précoce d′un solide dispositif de brevets, associée à une libéralisation et internationalisation de l′économie, a renforcé une coalition s′appuyant sur une intégration dans l′économie mondiale au moyen d′innovations de basse technologie, alors que les mêmes processus ont affaibli la coalition qui aurait pu soutenir un projet différent. Comprendre les fondations politiques du comportement mexicain aide à expliquer les conditions sous lesquelles les pays en développement à revenu moyen peuvent s′engager dans le leadership thématique et s′associer à d′autres pays en développement pour façonner l′architecture économique internationale.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth C Shadlen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of International DevelopmentLSELondon

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