Comparing management differences in Mexico with Canada and the US

articles Business Living, Working, Retiring

Eva Kraus

Doing business in Mexico is very different than in Canada and the US. The values, social practices, managerial methods, and belief systems of the Mexican worker and Mexican manager are different. They are so different in certain areas that the Canadian/US manager or business person who does not take the time to understand these differences and accommodate his or her behavior and expectations, will end up being frustrated and disappointed. In addition, the Mexican associates they have been dealing with will also be disappointed and frustrated. – Not a good way to conduct successful business!

To successfully do business in Mexico, it is necessary to enter the world of the Mexican, and be open to the fact that your assumptions about how things are done, often are not true here.

The major aspects of management differences are described in the following comparison table:

The comparisons are reproduced from Management in Two Cultures – Bridging the gap between US and Mexico, by Eva Kras, with permission from Intercultural Press Inc., a company specializing in cultural publications

Comparative Management Styles – Summary Table

Management Comparisons





Works to live.
Leisure considered essential for full life.
Money is for enjoying life.
Lives to work.
Leisure seen as reward for hard work.
Money often end in itself


Traditional manager is autocratic.
Younger managers starting to accept and delegate responsibility.
Subordinates used to being assigned tasks, not authority.
Managers delegate responsibility and authority.
Executive seeks responsibility and accepts accountability.

Theory vs. Practice

Basically theoretical mind.
Practical implementation often difficult.
Basically pragmatic mind.
Action-oriented problem-solving approach.


Still not fully accepted.
Sensitive to being “checked upon.”
Sensitive to giving and receiving critical feed-back.
Universally accepted and practiced.
Critical feed-back expected and discussed.


Mostly loyal to superior (person rather than organization).
Beginnings of self-loyalty.
Mainly self-loyalty.
Performance motivated by ambition.


Family and friends are preferred due to trustworthiness.
Promotions based on loyalty to superior.
Relatives usually barred – No nepotism here!
Promotion based on performance.


Avoids personal competition; favours harmony at work.Enjoys proving self in competitive situations.

Training &

Training highly theoretical.
Few structured programs.
Training concrete, specific.
Usually structured programs.


Relative concept.
Deadlines flexible.
“Manaña can mean “not today.”
What is happening now is more important than the future.
Literal imperative.
Deadlines and commitments are firm.
What is happening now is only important if it contributes towards the future.


Mostly short term because of uncertain environment and sense of “now.”Mostly long-term in predicted environment.

Be certain to look at General Items, and at Cultural Comparisons.

See also Suggested Readings for books that are worth your while.

Published or Updated on: December 1, 1997 by Eva Kraus © 1997
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