Importantly, the answer is: they are both. Mexicans see themselves as extremely independent individuals, and it is essential to honor that, but there is also a strong element of group-dependence in the culture.
First, Mexican business people do not prefer to do business with people who are simply "outsiders." Loyalty to developed relationships and the inter-dependencies that follow make it essential to establish personal rapport and trust with Mexican colleagues before attempting to do business. Strengthening personal bonds and displaying respect is more important to them than potential immediate business results. Likewise, gaining loyal employees takes a similar sort of personal investment on the part of a manager.
Second, Mexicans are a people with a strong sense of national pride who center their lives around their families rather than their work. They place greater emphasis on titles, family and group ties, and long-term personal relationships than on individual accomplishments. The high degree of loyalty to these makes things it natural to give family and friends preferential treatment.
This being said, Mexicans do value the uniqueness of individuals. Neither in business nor in personal life are people considered to be interchangeable. Each person must be appreciated and respected as an individual. In addition, Mexicans dislike appearing to bow to pressure. Indeed, a Mexican may adhere to a self-defeating position just to prove independence.
Decision-making in Mexico reflects both the group orientation and the individualism of Mexicans. Decisions in a firm are made by the top individual, but generally only after diplomatically conferring with others whose opinion is respected because of their status and personal relationship.
- Recognize which social group people belong to--do not try to force intermingling or a feeling of "we're all the same" as encouraged in the U.S.
- Acknowledge the status of people within a group: use titles and direct your correspondence and communication to the person at the same level as you.
- Do not disparage a member of a group--others will react as though you have personally insulted them.
- Realize that it may take a long time to make decisions, because the individual making the decision seeks the opinions of many others in their social or business group.
- If you are managing Mexicans, try to recognize individuals by name and honor individual achievements.
- Attend events and outings that allow you to connect on a more personal level.
- As we mentioned in the previous article, 5 Tips for Managing Mexicans, you can use peer pressure by putting responsibility on the group. Make the potential punishment for sloppy work or missed deadlines affect the entire group, not just the individual.