In Mexico, personal relationships are at the heart of most business dealings. Take the time to cultivate strong, long-term relationships.
Although the influence of foreign MNCs cannot be ignored, most indigenous Mexican companies will be hierarchical in structure.
People from the USA are North Americans rather than Americans. Mexicans are also Americans.
Key decisions are made by a small number of individuals at the top of the hierarchy. Ensure that you are dealing with the right people.
Make sure that you send people of the appropriate level of seniority to deal with Mexican colleagues. Do not insult people by sending very junior colleagues to work with older, more senior Mexican managers.
Managers tend to be instructional and are expected to give direct instructions to subordinates.
As in many hierarchical cultures, the boss-subordinate relationship is a reciprocal one. In exchange for loyalty, the boss takes a personal interest in the well-being of subordinates.
Try not to criticise others openly in meetings as this could be construed as an insult and have a very bad long-term impact on your relationships in Mexico.
Do not be surprised if standards of punctuality do not meet your expectations. Time is a flexible commodity and start and finish times should be viewed as estimates.
Agendas are not always used in meetings and if they are produced will not always be strictly followed.
Overt displays of emotion are not frowned upon – they show commitment and engagement.
Do not be surprised if small, sub-meetings develop within larger formal meetings.
English is widely spoken and many people speak it fluently. English is not, however, universally spoken and interpreters can be needed on occasion if you don’t speak Spanish.
Family names are often used in business circles amongst even quite close colleagues.
Formal titles such as Ingenerio (Engineer) are also commonly used in business.
People stand much closer to each other than many other cultures. Do not try to recreate your normal personal space as this could be seen as being unfriendly.
Although women play a less significant role at senior management level than in some other countries, visiting female managers should have few problems and will be treated with professional courtesy and respect.
It is important to be smartly dressed in both business and social situations.
Lunch is taken quite late at around 2:00pm and can last for a couple of hours.
Breakfast meetings are common in Mexico and should be seen as an important part of the relationship-building process.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
As part of the world’s largest trading block (NAFTA), Mexico must be an attractive potential market. It is strategically positioned between North and South America and as such is a great base for further expansion in the region. In addition, Mexico has negotiated a strategic network of free trade agreements which give it preferential access at least 46 countries with a combined population of in excess of one billion people.
Whilst Mexico does represent an attractive market entry proposition and doing business in Mexico is likely to bring rewards, there are several impediments which need to be taken into consideration. Bribery and corruption remain a problem – although progress is being made in this area – and organised crime still poses a serious threat both in the cities and the regions. Mexico could also be considered a little too dependent on the robustness of the US economy – if the States is doing well, Mexico is usually flourishing as well.
However, one of the key considerations you need to factor in when looking at doing business in Mexico is the local business Culture. Mexico might have a border with the USA but their business cultures are poles apart. Whereas the USA puts business firmly before relationships in business dealings, Mexico is the exact opposite. In a strongly hierarchical culture, who you know and how well you know them are absolutely critical to success. You need to forge great relationship and you need to know how to forge those relationship. Take the time to make the right type of contact and you will be rewarded.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Mexican business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on: