Critical Incident about "Mexico and the United States of America“

Project Report, 2012

9 Pages, Grade: 1,3



1. Critical Incident

2. Summary of the Critical Incident

3. Cultural Analysis
3.1 American Culture
3.2 Mexican Culture

4. Low- and High- Context Communication
4.1 Low-Context Communication
4.2 High-Context Communication

5. Deal- and Relationship-Focused Cultures
5.1 Deal Focused Cultures
5.2 Relationship Focused Cultures

6. Solutions

1. Critical Incident

A busy German production manager of an automotive company, Peter Müller (30), is sent to a short trip to manage a new supplier manufacturing facility in Mexico. The questioned Mexican supplier manufactures high-tech safety systems similar to another American supplier.

On his arrival, the Mexican production manager, Juan Lopez (47), suggests to go to the factory to meet the workers who have been awaiting his arrival. Joe declines Juan´s offer and chooses instead to get right to work on determining why the quality and production rate of the Mexican supplier plant are not equal to the U.S. supplier plant. Juan stresses the importance of getting to know the workers first, but Joe lets Juan know he was sent to Mexico to straighten things out, not to form friendship with the local workers.

Without further comment and a grim face, Juan gets Peter the figures and records his requests. Peter makes a number of changes and feels sure the plan he has prepared will improve quality and increase production. Then, he flies back to America again. After a couple of months, no improvement has been made; Peter cannot understand why the workers seem to resist his plans.

2. Summary of the Critical Incident

Immediately after the arrival of Joe, a U.S. production manager, in Mexico, his counterpart Juan wants a meeting with simple workers, but the American does not want that. He wants to start with his assignment immediately.

Despite Joe´s explicit rejection of the workers´ meeting Juan insists on it. Joe refuses again with the comment that he is not here for forming new friendships. After that the Mexican production manager gives his American visitor all requested data and everything else without any comment. After that, Joe can do his production changes and improvements.

A few months later Joe has to realize that there has not been any change since his last visit. He does not know why the Mexican workers oppose all of his great ideas. Additionally, he has no export license from the trade ministry. So he flies again to Mexico and solves the intercultural incident with two additional meetings.

3. Cultural Analysis

3.1 American Culture

American people strive with eagerness to fast results. They follow the slogan “time is money” or in other words: “we don´t care what you do or how you do it as long as it gets done”. Joe wants a prompt result and for that he does not need any social contact to workers. Furthermore, the Americans often live with the attitude: “Why fool around chit-chatting when we could be making deals”? A historical background for this cultural behavior could be seen in the hard life of the first European immigrants in North America. Surviving in a new country was their target. Everything has to be done quickly with fast outcomes e.g. they had to build their houses before the beginning of winter.[1]

3.2 Mexican Culture

On the one hand Mexican people like to discuss about topics like family and social concerns. Both topics matter a lot in their society. On the other hand they do not like to talk about problems and politics.[2] That could be one reason why Juan wants to meet the workers and does not talk directly about the bad quality and production rate. Moreover, Juan Lopez wants that his visitor get to know the workers personally. Workers as well as Juan claim a social relationship with Joe before talking about business operations.

Another attribute of the Mexican culture is the importance to keep people happy for the moment, even if they do not know anything exactly about the topic. In consequence of that they appear to be less truthful. This can lead to a terrible misunderstanding with other cultures. Foreign people may think they are lied in.[3] In our critical incident it could be possible that Juan does not tell Joe that he had not understood the planned improvements, so the Mexican supplier cannot realize Joe’s ideas.

Moreover the Mexican people follow the so called “manana” attitude. They are polite and hearty.[4] An old saw in Mexico is: “American people live to work and Mexicans work to live”. In Mexico, it´s normal to speak a little bit slower with a smooth tone. Forming good relationships and networks is important for making business in Mexico. Mexico's history of complicated relationships with colonial or imperial powers can explain these networks. In the uncertain history it was important to have a group of people you can trust on. Therefore, it is especially helpful to show respect for cultural traditions. In the case study are indications of a violation from some traditions. Joe has no connection to anyone of the workers and he wants to do business today, not tomorrow. Moreover, he perhaps has a sharp tone of voice. With only one single gesture he has hurt a few “no goes” in Mexico.[5]


[1] cf. Schmidt (2007) p. 66 ff.

[2] cf. Chaney (2010) p. 101

[3] cf. Chaney (2010) p. 101

[4] Royal Norwegian Embassy in Mexico (2012)

[5] rf. Every Culture (2012)

Excerpt out of 9 pages


Critical Incident about "Mexico and the United States of America“
University of Applied Sciences Aschaffenburg
Working Across Cultures
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
464 KB
Intercultural Communications, Case Study, USA, Mexico, Critical Incident, Business English, Culture, Cultural Problems, International, Working across Cultures, low context communication, high context communication, deal focused cultures, relationship focused cultures, Edward T. Hall, Geert Hofstede
Quote paper
Marco Aulbach (Author), 2012, Critical Incident about "Mexico and the United States of America“, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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