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CROSS CULTURAL MANAGEMENT

LATIN AMERICA
MEXICO AND VENEZUELA

SUBMITTED BY:

MODAK PRIY ( 08XPGDM31)


LATIN AMERICA – Mexico and
Venezuela

Mexico

Introduction

Three times the size of the state of Texas, Mexico has a population of
almost 88 million. The ethnic composition of the country is 60 percent
mestizo (a mixture of Indian and European), 30 percent Amerindian, 9
percent white, and 1 percent other. Mexico is a federal republic. Spanish is
the official language of Mexico, although over 100 Indian languages are
also spoken. English is widely understood by educated people and in
urban centers. There is no official religion, but almost 90 percent of
Mexicans are Roman Catholic. Protestants account for around 5 percent.

Mexico is one of the United States’ most important trade partners. It is the
third largest exporter to the United States, and its international trade
products include oil exports, tourism, and the products of its many
assembly plants (called maquiladoras). Most of the labor force is
employed in the agricultural sector.

Trivia

One must know a person before doing business with him or her, and the
only way to know a person in Mexico is to know the family. Personal
relationships are the key to business success. It is called Confianza
(trust) which means importance of having personal relationship between
interactants. In order to make this connection intermediaries are used. It
is critical, especially for a high ranking meeting, to use a person who is
known to the Mexican businessman or woman you are meeting. This is
your "business family" connection, the person who will introduce you. This
person is the bridge that builds the trust necessary to do business in
Mexico.

Mexicans are warm and gracious. They embrace the manana attitude
("Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow?"), and do not
embrace the time-is-money mentality of many other cultures. The old
Mexican saying is that "North Americans live to work, but Mexicans work
to live!" Respect their sense of time and traditions. If your natural
tendency is to speak quickly or you have a forceful or sharp tone of voice,

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become aware of how you are coming across. Become sensitive to the
pace and tone used in Mexico. Otherwise you will destroy a relationship
with your caustic tone and behavior.

Culture in Mexico

• Religion in Mexico: Over 50% of Mexico’s population practices the


Catholic religion.

* WORLD FACTBOOK 2002

• Appearance

• Men should wear a conservative dark suit and tie. Your wardrobe
should include suits that have classic lines and tailoring in gray or
navy, and white or light blue shirts. A white shirt is more formal
and should be worn when the formality of the meeting dictates.
• Women should wear a dress or skirt and blouse. A classic suit
may also be worn. Build a wardrobe using classic lines, classic
skirt lengths, and basic classic colors - gray, navy, white, and
ivory.
• Men may wear pants and a light shirt for casual. Plan a casual
wardrobe using the classic colors, plus camel, and you will be
casual, yet polished. Should you have the opportunity to wear
a guayabera, the wonderful traditional lightweight shirt, you wear
is out over your pants. This design is very comfortable in warmer
weather.
• Women may wear a blouse with pants or a skirt for casual. To
present yourself as professional and polished, even in an informal
setting, build your casual wardrobe using classic shades of gray,
blue, camel, white and ivory.
• Jeans are generally not appropriate, and tight or low cut clothing
is never appropriate.

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• Standing with your hands on your hips suggests aggressiveness,
and keeping your hands in your pockets is impolite.
• Mexicans may not make eye contact. This is a sign of respect and
should not be taken as an affront.

• Behavior

• Men shake hands upon meeting and leaving, and will wait for a
woman to be the first to offer her hand.
• Women may shake hands with men and other women. Many
times a woman may pat another woman's shoulder or forearm, or
kiss on the cheek.
• Long-time friends may embrace, and after several meetings you
may also be greeted with an embrace.
• Punctuality is not rigid because of the emphasis on personal
obligations. The best time for appointments is between 10:00
a.m. and 1:00 p.m., with late afternoon a second choice.
• Business lunches, rather than dinners are the traditional form of
business entertaining and are usually prolonged affairs,
beginning between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. and lasting three to four
hours, with little time being devoted to actual business. Lunches
are an essential part of business to establish a personal
relationship.
• Working breakfasts are also popular, meeting at 8:00 or 8:30 at
your hotel, and usually lasting two hours at the most.
• Conversations take place at a close physical distance. Stepping
back may be regarded as unfriendly.
• Mexican men are warm and friendly, and make a lot of physical
contact. They often touch shoulders or hold another’s arm. To
withdraw from this touch is considered insulting.
• Giving gifts to business executives is not required. Small items
with a company logo (for an initial visit) are appreciated.
• Secretaries do appreciate gifts. If giving a valuable gift, such as
perfume or a scarf, present it on a return visit. A man giving it to
a female secretary should indicate the gift is from his wife.
• Gifts are not required for a dinner guest, but will be appreciated.
Good choices are candy, flowers (sent ahead of time), or local
crafts from home.
• When giving flowers: yellow – represent death, red – cast spells,
and white – lift spells.
• Do not give gifts made of silver, as it is associated with trinkets
sold to tourists.
• Women should not invite a male counterpart for a business
dinner unless other associates or spouses attend. Also, Mexican

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men will graciously attempt to pay for a meal, even though you
are hosting it. A professional way to host a meal is to dine or
lunch at your hotel. Pre-arrange to have the meal added to your
hotel bill.
• Tipping is appropriate for services provided. Wages are often so
low that workers depend heavily on gratuities for their income.
• Pay for store purchases by placing money in the cashier’s hand,
rather than on the counter.

• Communications

• Refrain from using first names until invited to do so.


• Titles are important and should be included on business cards.
You may directly speak to someone by only using his or her title
only, without including the last name.
• Doctor is a physician or Ph.D. Profesor it the title for a
teacher. Ingeniero is an engineer. Arquitecto is an
architect. Abogadois a lawyer.
• People without professional titles are addressed using Mr., Mrs.,
or Miss and his or her surname. Senor is Mr., Senora is Mrs.,
and Senorita is Miss
• Hispanics generally use two surnames. The first surname listed is
from the father, and the second surname listed is from the
mother. When speaking to someone use his or her father’s
surname.
• A married woman will add her husband's father's name to the
end of her name, usually shown as de (name) when written. This
woman would be formally addressed as Senora de (name).
• In speaking to this same married woman less formally, you would
simply say Senora (name).
• Do not use red ink anytime you are writing someone's name.
• The traditional toast in Mexico is Salud (Sal-UUD).
• Mexican’s use a "psst-psst" sound to catch another’s attention in
public. This is not considered rude.
• Mexicans refer to people from the United States as North
Americans.
• Good conversational topics are Mexican culture, history, art, and
museums.
• Never discuss the Mexican-American war, poverty, illegal aliens,
or earthquakes.

Venezuela

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Introduction

The population of Venezuela is 20.2 Million with an ethnic makeup of 70


percent mestizo, and the rest – Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab,
German, and African. Only 2 percent of the population is pure-blooded
Amerindian. The capital of Caracas, has approximately 3.2 Million people
within its city limits.

Venezuela is a federal multiparty republic, with a president who is both


chief of state and head of government. The cabinet, or Council of
Ministers, has twenty-six members. There is a bicameral congress,
composed of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, and the judiciary is
represented by the Supreme Court. Elections are held every five years.

The official language is Spanish. English and a variety of Amerindian


dialects are spoken. There is no official religion, but the vast majority of
people are Roman Catholic (96 percent).

Trivia

In Venezuela, there are two generations with distinct differences doing


business. The older generation will want to get to know you personally
first, rather than your company or firm. The younger generation may have
been educated in the United States and will typically want to relate more
to your business dealings or company, rather than to you personally.
Columbus discovered the area of Venezuela in 1498.

Culture in Venezuela

• Religion in Venezuela: Over 50% of Venezuela’s population practices


the Catholic religion.

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* WORLD FACTBOOK 2002

• Appearance

• Dress for men is conservative – dark business suits of tropical weight


wool
• Fashion is very important to Venezuelan women. Women should
pack their best business clothes and one cocktail dress
• People tend to stand very close together when conversing.
Venezuelans often touch each other’s arms or jacket during
conversation
• Posture while seated is important; avoid slouching

• Behavior

• Business people are punctual and small talk is minimal


• It is good practice to follow up morning appointments with an
invitation to lunch
• Have business cards printed in English on one side and Spanish on
the other. Be sure your position is clearly indicated and present your
card immediately following an introduction
• Unlike lunch, dinner is for socializing, not for business
• Businesswomen should be aware that going out alone with
Venezuelan businessmen may be misconstrued
• The two senior executives should sit facing each other
• When dining, wait until everyone is served before beginning to eat
• Guests rarely sit at the head of the table
• To indicate you have finished eating, place your utensils in parallel
and diagonally across your plate
• An appropriate gift for a man is something for the office - such as a
good quality pen. A women would appreciate the gift of an orchid –
the national flower
• Guests may bring or send flowers or candy to a hostess

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• The senior visiting business person may give a toast offering good
wishes for business negotiations, adding a memorized Spanish
phrase about the pleasure of being with Venezuelans

• Communications

• Handshaking by both sexes common and customary; shake hands on


greeting and departing. The handshake is firm
• Good friends hug and women kiss cheeks
• Avoid dominating the conversation. Venezuelans like to be in control
• Titles are important and should be included on business cards.
Address a person directly by using his or her title only. A Ph.D.D or a
physician is called Doctor. Teachers prefer the title Profesor,
engineers go by Ingeniero, architects are Arquitecto, and lawyers
are Abogado. Persons who do not have professional titles should be
addressed as Mr., Mrs., or Miss, plus their surnames. In Spanish
these are:
• Mr. = Senor
• Mrs. = Senora
• Miss = Senorita
• Most Hispanics have two surnames: one from their father, which is
listed first, followed by one from their mother. Only the father’s
surname is used when addressing someone
• Good conversation topics: business, art, literature, history
• Bad conversation topics: local unrest, inflation, politics

CROSS CULTURAL ISSUES WHICH IMPINGE ON BUSINESS BETWEEN


THE TWO COUNTRIES USING GEERT HOFSTEDE’S CULTURAL
DIMENSIONS

MEXICO

Mexico's highest Hofstede Dimension is Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) (82),


indicating the society’s low level of tolerance for uncertainty. In an effort
to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty, strict rules, laws, policies,

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and regulations are adopted and implemented. The ultimate goal of this
population is to control everything in order to eliminate or avoid the
unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty Avoidance characteristic,
the society does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse.

Mexico has a low Individualism (IDV) ranking (30), but is slightly higher
than other Latin countries with an average 21. The score on this
Dimension indicates the society is Collectivist as compared to
Individualist. This is manifest in a close long-term commitment to the
member 'group', be that a family, extended family, or extended
relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides
most other societal rules and regulations. The society fosters strong
relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of
their group

Mexico has the second highest Masculinity (MAS) ranking in Latin America
(69). This indicates the country experiences a higher degree of gender
differentiation of roles. The male dominates a significant portion of the
society and power structure. This situation generates a female population
that becomes more assertive and competitive, although not at the level of
the male population.

Another Dimension in which Mexico ranks higher than other Latin


neighbors is Power Distance (PDI) with a rank of 81, compared to an
average of 70. This is indicative of a high level of inequality of power and
wealth within the society. This condition is not necessarily subverted upon
the population, but rather accepted by the culture as a whole.

VENEZUELA

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While Venezuela is similar to other Latin American countries when
analyzing Hofstede's Dimensions, it does has unique characteristics by
possessing extremes in all four Hofstede Dimensions - three on the high
end of the scale and one on the low end. The first significant exception is
that unlike all other Latin countries, except Panama, Venezuela's highest
Dimension ranking is not Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI).

Venezuela's highest ranking Dimension is Power Distance (PDI) with an 81,


compared to an average of 70 for the average of all other Latin countries.
This is indicative of a high level of inequality of power and wealth within
the society. This condition is not necessarily subverted upon the
population, but rather accepted by the culture as a whole.

Venezuela's Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) of 76 is slightly below the Latin


average of 80, indicating the society’s low level of tolerance for
uncertainty. In an effort to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty,
strict rules, laws, policies, and regulations are adopted and implemented.
The ultimate goal of this population is to control everything in order to
eliminate or avoid the unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty
Avoidance characteristic, the society does not readily accept change and
is very risk adverse.

Venezuela has the highest Masculinity ranking among the Latin countries
at 73, compared to an average of 48. This indicates the country
experiences a higher degree of gender differentiation of roles. The male
dominates a significant portion of the society and power structure. This
situation generates a female population that becomes more assertive and
competitive, although not at the level of the male population.

Venezuela has a very low Individualism (IDV) ranking at 12, compared to


other Latin countries (average of 21). The score on this Dimension
indicates the society is strongly Collectivist as compared to Individualist.
This is manifest in a close long-term commitment to the member 'group',
be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a
collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules
and regulations. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone
takes responsibility for fellow members of their group.

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Cross Cultural Issues impinging business between two Countries

Generally, cross cultural issues arise when the people from two different
countries while dealing with each other are confronted with
misunderstandings. This has a negative impact on the business between
two countries. Main reason behind such misunderstandings is either
cultural difference but more so is the lack of understanding of cultural
references through which culture manifests itself.

So, keeping this in mind, we can measure the cross cultural differences
between two countries with the help of Greet Hofstede. With the help of
this model, we have notes following Cross Cultural Issues between
Venezuela and Mexico –

Dimension Venezuela (Old Venezuela Mexico


Business) (New Business)
Time Polychronistic; Monochronistic Polychronistic;
Orientation time is flexible ; people value time is flexible
puntuality
Uncertainty High High Very High
Avoidance Avoidance; Avoidance; Avoidance;
seeks thorough seeks thorough seeks thorough
information information information
before making before making before making
any decisions any decisions any decisions
and want to clear
everything
upfront
Power High Power; High Power; High Power;
defers to defers to defers to
authority with authority with authority with
little or no little or no little or no
resistance resistance resistance
Masculinity High High High
Masculine; men Masculine; men Masculine; men
hold authority hold authority hold authority
Individualism / Highly Highly Collectivistic;
Collectivism Collectivistic; Collectivistic; place value on
place value on place value on group well being
group well being group well being but sometimes
and there is no and there is no individuality do
place for place for creep in
individuality individuality

Impinges arise due to differences in various dimensions like Uncertainty


Avoidance. In Venezuela though it is high but still it is lower than that of
Mexico. So Mexicans seeks to avoid uncertainty or risks through the

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means of high control which is generally in one or more of the following
form –

1. A strong bureaucracy
2. A low social mobility
3. Importance of Age

Hence any of these factor may fact as an impingement between the


businesses of two countries.

Another main impingement is the type of businessman you are dealing


with. For example if you are dealing with Monochronistic type then you
must be aware of the following

1. Time is perceived as line going from past to the future and can be
act according to specific action. Punctuality matters a lot.
2. Only one thing at a time is good enough.
3. These are high on uncertainty avoidance, agenda is strictly followed.
4. Implementation or Execution of work has a priority over the
relationships.
5. This type of societies value time.

However, if it is a Polychoronistic type of society, then you must be careful


about -

1. People are tempted to do several things at once.


2. Since, many things are done at a time, they are interrupted often,
which might result in delays and wastage.
3. Relationships have priority over execution or implementation.
4. Punctuality is relative.
5. Projects and appointments tends to get postponed.
6. Lending or exchanging personal goods are common.

Business lunches are a good example to show the difference between


polychronism and monochronism. In the first case this lunch can be used
to sign a contract but even if it is the real object of the meeting it is not
the only topic discussed: therefore pleasure and work take place at the
same time. In monochronic societies this lunch will generally be arranged
after the signature the contract: thus pleasure and work are not mixed.

So, we feel that these are main issues that may act as an impingement in
business between Venezuela and Mexico. Otherwise, these countries have
many commonalities as explained in above mentioned table.

Following are some of the general rules which must be followed by the
business while doing business in any Latin American Country.

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Rules for communicating with Latin American Businesses

Goal Method
Initiating Offer polite self-introduction, goodwill statement for
Contact reader, associates and friends
Using Titles Use of senor, senora or professional titles; avoid first
names on initial and early contacts; include Mother’s
maiden name in correspondence
Showing Use at least some of reader’s language; show interest
Respect and in reader’s country and company
Knowledge of
Culture
Building Develop personal rapport first; inquire about family;
Relationship communicate frequently; visit country or offer to
host;
Giving Gifts Send of bring gifts to potential associates
Handling Bad Present news implicitly and with high regard for
News reader’s feelings and reputation
Maintaining Frequently use pronouns; express formal, yet
Personal Tone personal, goodwill for family and associates

Learning’s

Cross Cultural Management enables oneself to keep a good balance


between the respects for local environment and need to keep some of
one’s own business practices. Thus it allows you to inculcate the attributes
of both the cultures.

It is a wrong notion that cultural differences happen only between two


foreign countries, these can arise within a country also. So, one must be
careful to manage these differences also.

Hence, it becomes imperative not to underestimate the cultural issues


between the foreign countries that have same language like in our case
the Official Language of both Venezuela and Mexico is Spanish. Therefore
in order to enable the smooth functioning of business, to reduce the
feeling of anxiety or frustration due to these cultural issues, we suggest
following steps for a businessman –

1. Get information about the country you are going to well in advance.
2. Try to learn the language: without this you will feel handicapped
while negotiating and communicating.
3. Accept to take part in activities of the country. It will provide you
with the opportunity to gel well with their culture.
4. Be aware of the complexity of any foreign culture.

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5. Acknowledge the influence of your own culture. Bear in mind that
while travelling abroad people carry a part of their culture with
them.
6. Be patient towards the natives and try to understand them.
7. Be ready to modify your own habits, attitudes, values etc.

References

• Differences in work/family orientations: workforces in Venezuela, Chile,


Mexico and the United States, Kelly C. Strong, Joel D. Nicholson, Warren
R. Nielsen, Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal
• http://en.wikipedia.org
• Beyond Hofstede : Cultural Applications for communicating with Latin
American Businesses, William Wardrope, Proceedings of 2005
Association for Business Communication Annual Convetion

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