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Mexico’s Unique Culture Influences Its Business Practices

2011-04-20
by Mary Anne Thompson

The Mexican people value family, education and conservative Christian traditions. Their rich culture influences how they do business. If you are planning to work in Mexico or contemplating a move there, it is important you understand and respect the long-held traditions of the people. They will embrace you for it.

Mexico is a very modern country with a very diverse and rich culture. It is characterized by its mestizo heritage, a convergence of European and ancient Mesoamerican blood. This mix of culture and traditions provides for a wide array of cultural expressions and variety in interaction from region to region throughout the country, impacting both business and everyday activities.

According to the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas or CDI in Spanish) and the INEGI (official census institute), approximately 9.8 percent of Mexico’s population is indigenous. Interactions are rarely based on racial discrimination, however. The financial and economic gap between classes is a much larger factor. The CIA World Factbook reports 18.2 percent of the Mexican population lives below the poverty line. Being well-dressed, speaking other languages, having a good financial situation, going to good schools and finishing college all influence the way a person is treated in society and in the job market much more than the person’s ethnic background.

An important feature to be aware of is more than 75 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. Mexicans are extremely family-oriented and tend to be more traditional and conservative when asked about major issues involving life. It is common to find many family businesses that have been operated by more than three generations, or children over the age of 26 who still live with their parents.

Understanding Mexican culture can help you navigate the country’s business environment more effectively. Also, it is important to be aware of the cultural differences between Mexico and your own country if contemplating a move there. Whatever your own culture, it is appreciated when you acknowledge and respect the culture of the country in which you are currently working or residing. 

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