Culture Handbook: Doing Business in Mexico

Management and Understanding Mexican Business Culture

In order to operate successfully in Mexico, one must not only be familiar with the regulations and laws of the country, but also the etiquette and business culture. A manager is expected to display integrity, trustworthiness and sincerity towards the staff. Mexicans are generally accustomed to and tolerate a top-down, autocratic form of leadership. Cross-cultural management must therefore become familiar with the hierarchical way in which companies are run in Mexico and how decisions are made.
It is especially important to understand that family and friends traditionally come first for a Mexican worker. Therefore, in some cases, family obligations may take precedence over job performance. When establishing business relationships in Mexico, it is especially important to note that building a friendship should be a priority. While employees in other countries usually try to draw a line between interpersonal relationships and business relationships, the line between the two is not as clearly defined in the Mexican workplace. Especially in mid-sized companies, Mexicans are more interested in building long-term personal relationships with their co-workers and managers than they are about the status of the company they represent.


In the context of business and negotiations, there are a few things to keep in mind. Companies are structured according to a strict hierarchy. External appearance as well as status symbols are particularly important. As a rule, negotiations begin with small talk to get to know each other and build a trusting relationship. Acceptable topics include family, the weather, travel destinations in Mexico, and culinary specialties. Topics that imply criticism, such as corruption and crime, should be avoided.
It is customary to have dinner with a business partner, but business topics are not discussed until after the meal. When it comes to agreements, Mexicans are masters of indirect statements. It is customary not to answer with an unequivocal “yes” or “no”. A “yes” should therefore be taken as a “probably”.

Time and rules

When it comes to time or rules, Mexicans are quite flexible. It is important to live in the moment and long-term plans play a secondary role. In addition, Mexican culture is known for its polychronic understanding of time, which means that several things are done at the same time. Lateness is normal, and even in a professional setting, lateness of up to an hour is accepted and tolerated. Keeping appointments or deadlines also does not have the same importance as in German culture, and improvisation and flexible handling are the norm here.

Do you have further questions about current economic developments in Mexico? Do not hesitate to contact us!