Local development studies allow to analyse the relationship between development-quality of life and social actors from a new perspective, and move forward from development-economic growth paradigm that has long dominated national and regional planning in Latin America. Local development studies re-assess the influence of geography on the economy, and take into account a more complex interrelationship between space and social structure as factors affecting production organisation. The turning point for this new view was the proposal to use human capabilities as a measurement of development, as well as the development and research on industrial districts carried out in Italy. In particular, the study of industrial districts recognized the importance of local government in supporting the local economy. This paper is the introduction to the book Desarrollo local: teoría y prácticas socioterrioriales (UNAM y Miguel Ángel Porrúa, Mexico D.F., 2007) which contributes to a debate and systematisation of experiences of local development with particular regard to Latin America.