Over the last several decades, Mexico has become the low-cost manufacturing venue of choice for US and global manufacturers seeking to access North American markets. Although Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey constitute the nation’s main economic engines for growth, Mexican shelter companies have helped many hundreds of manufacturers set up operations in many cities and towns along the border with the United States, as well as in the country’s interior. In addition to offering “hard” support services in the operational areas of human resources, customs, payroll and accounting, health, safety, and environmental compliance, for example, Mexican shelter companies fill the role of an experienced partner that helps its clients to navigate local culture. Although Mexico and the US are neighbors on the same continent, the cultural differences between the two countries are noteworthy. In order to ensure their clients’ success, Mexican shelter companies help their diverse manufacturing clientele to bridge the cultural divide that exists between the two countries. Below are several areas in which significant cultural differences can be found:
- Business Culture
- Non-Verbal Communication and Body Language
- Modes of Dress
- Social Organization
- Roles of Men and Women
- Cultural Context
The experienced and knowledgeable staff of Mexican shelter companies are aware of the particularities of the Mexican business culture. Part of their service is to, acclimate their mainly US clientele to the differences that exist between the two countries in this critically important area. Although the United States and the Republic of Mexico share a common border and close geographic proximity, how business is conducted in each country Is not the same. For example, In Mexico, more emphasis is put on personal relationships than is the case in the United States. It is common that businessmen that interact in Mexico know each other well, but also know the members of each other’s families. It is not uncommon for Mexican businessmen to invite potential partners or clients home for a meal or to stay at their home for a weekend. During these informal times, business matters can be addressed in a more relaxed setting.
Non-verbal communication is different in US and Mexican culture. Without the knowledge of this important area provided by expert staff in Mexican shelter companies, body language can easily be misunderstood. For Mexicans, for example, to stand with one’s hands in one’s pockets is considered to be impolite, while hands on hips are sometimes considered to be an aggressive posture. The “personal space” of people in the US is much wider than that of its Mexican neighbors. While standing face to face in the US is at a comfortable arms’ length, Mexican “personal space” is much closer. Addition, while touching in the US workplace is usually limited to a handshake, Mexican businessmen and women often greet each other with a handshake and a hug.
In Mexico, businessmen and women dress conservatively. Mexicans place a high degree of importance on the looks of those with whom they that they have dealings with, as well as on themselves. In a formal business settings suits are customary.
Personnel of shelter companies in Mexico will advise their clients that the family is at the center of Mexican social organization. The family takes precedence above all, including business matters. While the family in the US tends to be nuclear in nature (a husband, a wife, and children), Mexican families often are expanded to include grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and cousins and in-laws. Often members of an extended family live under the same roof.
In Mexico, the role of gender is much more differentiated between men and women than it is in the United States. Although Mexican women are becoming increasingly more present in professional circles, they are not as well represented in organizational upper management as their counterparts in the US.
Mexican culture is considered to be highly contextual. This means that businessmen and women in Mexico place as much importance on how something is said as on what is said. Because Mexico is a high context culture a large and important emphasis is placed on the value of personal relationships. Personnel in Mexican shelter companies that advise their clients on local culture and customs will emphasize this aspect of doing business in Mexico.