This paper examines the role of interdisciplinarity on research pertaining to local issues. Using Colombian publications from 1991 until 2011 in the Web of Science, we investigate the relationship between the degree of interdisciplinarity and the local orientation of the articles. We find that a higher degree of interdisciplinarity in a publication is associated with a greater emphasis on local issues. In particular, our results support the view that research that combines cognitively disparate disciplines, what we refer to as distal interdisciplinarity, is associated with more local focus of research. We discuss the policy implications of these results in the context of national research assessments targeting excellence and socio-economic impact.