Cracking the Cultural Code
In Mexicans & Americans
, international businessman Ned Crouch explains how cultural bias affects the way Americans get
along with Mexicans, why Mexican people behave the way they do, and
how people from both cultures can work together more effectively.
His in-depth analysis explains cultural attitudes toward work and
describes how businesspeople can apply the lessons of cultural
anthropologists to the real world. Using anecdotes from his own
personal experiences during his many years of working in Mexico, as
well as the stories he has gathered from numerous informative
interviews and conversations, Crouch cracks the cultural code of
Mexico by describing how the Mexican culture works and how Mexicans
and their differences with Americans can be better understood.
The first part of Crouch's book shows readers how the
differences between Mexicans and Americans play out in a variety of
business and real-life situations. By focusing on Mexicans'
perception of time, their sense of space, and their construction
and use of language, Crouch demonstrates how these deeply embedded
influences lead to dramatic differences in approaches toward
business. While providing examples and presenting tips, he
discusses how the underlying construction and use of language
affect the pace of business.
The second part of Mexicans & Americans takes a
close look at the intricacies of the opposing work styles of
Mexicans and Americans. Using the microcosm of the factory floor to
describe the differences between their work styles and working
relationships, Crouch describes ways businesspeople can cope with
the many problems that inevitably crop up in cross-border business
and real life. His insights into conflict resolution can be applied
to just about any work or social interaction between Mexicans and
The Way Americans Work
While revealing Mexicans and their culture, Crouch also looks at
the ways Americans work, and explores the differences between both
work cultures. By investigating the reasons behind these
differences, he is able to discover and describe effective
approaches to resolving conflicts and building relationships. By
exploring why people behave the way they do, and appreciating how
the hierarchical outlook of most Mexicans is different from
Americans' egalitarian style, Crouch helps readers devise
strategies for communicating more effectively across cultural
barriers in Mexico, as well as with Mexicans who are working or
living in the United States.
Crouch's book also shows how achieving cultural fluency depends
on building context. Crouch explains that Mexicans are a highly
contextual people, and to help Americans appreciate the core values
and self-concepts of Mexicans, he explores "the archeology of the
Mexican mind." By looking at the historical trends and current
challenges that make up the Mexican political, economic and social
experience, Crouch offers a cultural perspective on many aspects of
daily life in Mexico and describes how these cultural influences
affect society at large.
The Lens of Culture
Crouch writes that by "learning to look through the lens of
culture, you can avoid mistakes and frustration while building a
bridge of communication." Without this understanding, he explains,
many people can fall into the trap of assuming that things are the
same in Mexico as they are in the United States. By fostering a
greater understanding of cultural differences, Crouch helps readers
appreciate the value of adjusting thinking and behavior in order to
be successful in their interactions with Mexicans.
Crouch describes how to handle a fender bender in Mexico, how to
tell a Mexican employee that he or she will not get a raise, how to
create incentives for employees, and how to train and manage
workers. He also points out the mistakes that others have made from
which lessons can be learned. In one example, Crouch recounts the
experience of a Kansas businessman, Sam. At a formal dedication
ceremony, Sam watched the wealthy owner of a construction company
embrace his son, a manager on the project, and kiss him on the lips
to show his pride. Next, when it was Sam's turn to show his respect
to the construction company owner, he embraced the old man, and
kissed him on the lips. Although reactions were mixed at Sam's faux
pas (a kiss between immediate family members is fine in Mexico, but
between business partners is unheard of), Crouch points out, "we
are all imperfect."
Why We Like This Book
In Mexicans & Americans, Crouch brings a deeper understanding of intercultural relationships to the workplace, and
does so with valid generalizing that never sinks into stereotyping.
Crouch is an advocate for greater intercultural discourse, and
brings the broadest aspects of Mexican culture and its most
pertinent minutia together to form a vivid picture of the Mexican
people, creating a better understanding of Americans along the way.