Business is booming between the U.S. and countries in Latin America. Between 2009 and 2012, trade with these 20 countries increased 54 percent compared with a 36 percent increase with the rest of the world.
Doing business with companies and partners in Latin America can obviously be financially rewarding, but it can also be challenging, and good preparation has its rewards.
Knowing something about cultural differences between Latin America and the U.S. is a good place for starting a new business excursion south of the boarder. An interesting tool for looking at cultural differences was created by Dutch researcher Geert Hofstede.
According to the Geert Hofstede cultural dimension scale, the U.S. and Latin America are most different in the dimensions of risk avoidance and individuality. Hofstede’s scale compares measures of risk avoidance on a scale of high to low.
A rating of high risk avoidance, like in Latin America, means that on average, compared to their counterparts in the U.S., people there are more conservative about risk and like business communication that avoids ambiguity.
This may explain why Latin American governments often have what seem to U.S. natives to be obsolete and excessively complicated bureaucracies compared to standards at home. Change of all kind is a riskier proposition in their cultural milieu.
A bigger difference, according to the Hofstede measure, is in the dimension of individuality verses collectivism. The U.S., along with the U.K., Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Italy, are the only countries where qualities associated with individualism consistently rank higher than collectivist ideals by this yardstick.
In Latin America, a more collectivist understanding of the world prevails. People there have closer family and historical bonds that will usually trump shorter term alliances.
Learning about these kinds of differences in world view before embarking on a Latin American business adventure will only improve the chances of success. Using the services of trained specialists for navigating the complexities of contract and property law will also give you an edge in doing business with our closest neighbors.
When it comes to meeting space, using a virtual location finder improves your odds of having the business location and amenities for a meeting where nothing gets lost in translation.
When you get in on the trade expansion that is happening with Latin America, doing your homework will pay off, and so will using the services of experts who already know the terrain.