This book combines advice on how to do business in Mexico with detailed background on Mexican history and culture from the conquest to the present. Written by an apparently active and experienced nonacademic, and lightly footnoted, the book provides substantial how-to information at the levels of both business strategy and day-to-day operations, as well as information and analysis on the Mexican national character and its origins.
The author’s premise is that the North American Free Trade Agreement marks the voluntary loss of Mexican sovereignty; the beginning of the end of the modern Weberian-bureaucratic state created by the Revolution (and parallel to the experience of the Soviet Union); and the onset of the eventual absorption of Mexico into the economies of its northern neighbors. Though apparently saddened by the loss of Mexican sovereignty and the uncertainties resulting from the dismantling of the state, the author views with excitement the new opportunities afforded to U.S. business in the newly opened and privatized Mexican economy, while not fully appreciating the achievements of the import substitution period.
Following substantial introductory material, the book is organized in three parts. The first, “The Corporate Integration of the Mexican Economy,” examines business issues, including the nature of the Mexican economy, strategic assessment of the market, forming alliances with Mexican organizations, business opportunities in infrastructure, and paternalism and other cultural issues in employer-employee relations. The second part, “Understanding the Mexican Persona,” discusses the surrender of economic sovereignty and the clash between European and Indian cultures beginning with the conquest, with subsections on racism, victimization and misogyny, and nationalism and culture. The final part, “Integrating the Mexican Economy into the Age of Free Trade,” returns to business issues with a discussion of import and export mechanisms and a comparable chapter on the techniques and regulation of investment. That is followed by a full-length analysis of the problems faced by African American executives in Mexico. The book closes with a sympathetic comparison of Mexican “corruption” and U.S. “wrongdoing.”
Unlike many business books, this volume omits the detailed reporting of the activities of specific firms while staying close to general business principles. Truly about Mexico, though from a somewhat personal slant, this book provides essentially a near-complete first course in Mexican history, though with an anthropological flavor, with which it then attempts to shed light on the world of business. The author critiques the social scientific material he presents; he seemingly draws on conventional stereotypes while occasionally labeling them as such. From the perspective of any given discipline, this book has much to criticize; but if used with other materials in the give and take of a seminar setting, it could provoke a stimulating discussion of the complexities of a changing Mexico and that nation’s interaction with the societies to the north.