Contrapeso En defensa de la libertad y el sentido común
Doing Business in Mexico
Eduardo García Gaspar
30 julio 2006
Sección: NEGOCIOS, Sección: Análisis
Catalogado en:


El siguiente es un curso sobre esa materia y que dí durante varios semestres. Diseñado por mí, era una introducción al tema destinado a alumnos de universidad, generalmente extranjeros.

Doing Business in Mexico

Table of contents

This page contains the main information about the course, such as calendar, structure and the like.

Basic course calendar

1 Week: introduction to the course. Presentation of the course to students.

2 Week: an introduction to Mexico. First impressions and basic geographical data.

3 Week: census data and first project decisions. A review of the most recent census and an informal presentation of projects.

4 Week: a brief look at Mexican history. This week the course will be devoted to a bird’s eye view of the country’s history.

5 Week: the last 50 years. The events during the last half of the last century are key to understand Mexico today. ATTENTION: student’s grades will be given next week, based on class participation.

6 Week: cultural traits. The main objective of this week is to explore cultural traits in Mexico. This is probably the most important variable when doing business in a foreign country and the most difficult to master.

7 Week: overview of the country. The main objective of this week is to explore an information resource that is useful and not very frequently used. Many Internet sites provide serious and reliable information on Mexico, in English. This information may be invaluable in the SWOT analysis.

8 Week: ideas on entrepreneurship. Readings and discussion on the role of the entrepreneur and business creativity. ATTENTION: Next week: project presentations

9 Week: project review and presentations. This is midterm assessment of the final project.  ATTENTION: student’s grades will be given next week, based on team projects.

10 Week: the market. This week is dedicated to a review of Mexico’s potential as a market.

11 Week: field experience. Students will embark on an organized tour of the city, with emphasis on their project.

12 Week: the foreign factor. Information on free trade agreements, foreign investment and maquiladoras.

13 Week: management styles. A further review of cultural traits.

14 Week: labour laws and working conditions. A review of main points from legislation and worker’s mentality. ATTENTION: student’s grades will be given next week, based on class participation. ATTENTION: next week, project presentations.

15 Week: project presentations.

16 Week: last day.

Welcome to Doing Business in Mexico

This is a 16-week course that aims at providing the student with an overall knowledge of the country from a business perspective. We will be meeting twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday. We will use Blackboard as the main application; it is a simple web-like program.

English will be our lingua franca. In this respect, we will be exposed to several accents from different parts of the world… so, please, try to avoid slang and local expressions that may be difficult to understand to others.  Yes, that includes people whose native language is English —they have local accents too.

Please read all the files in this page. This will give you a true perspective that will be very useful during the semester.

Again, this is a business class and participation in it is critical. It is not a lecture-type of course. If the student is used to the lecture system, some difficulties are ahead for him or her. Remember, class participation will be graded.

General Objectives

To get to know Mexico and its main traits while developing a SWOT analysis in a business decision.

To create a SWOT analysis of the country with information and data that needs to be gathered, filtered and arranged, looking for main ideas and projecting consequences.

To encourage personal responsibility, creative contributions and the ability to share information while working as a team, dividing tasks and presenting results to others under uncertainty.

Course Description

Overall view

Doing Business in Mexico is course developed especially for foreign students. It is the course best suited to create an objective understanding of Mexico, including strengths and weaknesses.  Also the course helps reinforce welcomed disciplines in business, such as determining relevancy of information, turning data into information, projecting consequences from the information and making recommendations.

Modules

Doing Business in Mexico structure is based in two basic modules that go from the general aspects to more detailed data.

Module one provides much needed information about the country, including basic knowledge about geography, demographics, history and current situation.

Module two provides more detailed business information, such as labor regulations, market data, financial system and others.

Throughout the course the student is continuously facing tasks that involve the searching of data, its filtering and its projection into meaningful recommendations. This will surely create in the student a deep and memorable impression about Mexico.

Doing Business in Mexico presupposes very basic management courses in which rudimentary notions of a business plan have been treated. It is clearly a business course that should attract business undergraduates. In the course we will apply SWOT analysis.

Educational intentions

The course is strongly based on the analysis of information. Thus, the ability to look for quality information is considered a major asset in the student

The course provides numerous sources of information, from which the student will need to find common denominators upon which consequences have to be projected. Thus, the skill to convert data into information and information into business recommendations is a major concern for the course.

The course attempts to simulate a business environment in which decisions have to be made under various degrees of ambiguity, including contradictory information. Thus, the student will deal in a project that calls for a business recommendation without the benefits of full and certain information.

The course is based on a business simulation: each of the teams is assumed to be a scouting squad sent by their parent company to Mexico. Their mission is to provide first hand knowledge on Mexico for the launching of a product or service. The first stage in this project is for the team to develop a SWOT analysis of the country. The team members will be working together throughout the semester making decisions as to their division of labor and meetings schedule.

The course calls for personal decisions that suppose respect for moral basis and virtues. The student needs to be responsible, respectful of the opinions of others, punctual, able to share information, honest in his recommendations, optimist and creative.

Course contents/modules

1    Module one: Mexico

Particular objectives in this module are the following: To know Mexico from an overall perspective, to develop abilities in searching for relevant information and in summarizing data, being able to determine main points and to form a positive view of the country based on factual data. This module encompasses the following contents:

  • Introduction to the country: overall knowledge on geography and census/demographic data.
  • Historical review since ancient civilizations to the present.
  • Economic/political changes in the past 50 years.
  • General cultural traits.
  • Current issues and country summaries.

For the procedural content the course uses a simple SWOT analysis, sometimes part of a business plan, which aims at the examination of strong and weak points of a particular situation, institution, or activity. For the attitudinal contents it is expected for students to develop and sharpen mental curiosity and imagination, specially regarding the future consequences of present and past circumstances.

2    Module two: doing business

Particular objectives in this module are the following, to deepen the knowledge on Mexico via a business analysis, to further develop abilities in analyzing information for the finding of consequences and effects in business decisions and to create a positive outlook towards these activities. This module encompasses the following contents:

  • The role of the entrepreneur.
  • The legal framework of the country.
  • Mexico as a market.
  • Management styles.
  • Labor laws and working conditions
  • Foreign influence: maquiladoras, investment.

For the procedural content the course will continue using a simple SWOT analysis, sometimes part of a business plan, that aims at the examination of strong and weak points of a particular situation, institution, or activity. For the attitudinal contents it is expected for students to further develop and sharpen mental curiosity and imagination, specially regarding the future

consequences of present and past circumstances.

Learning Strategy

Doing Business in Mexico is based on collaborative learning in order to simulate the business environment of a team that is assigned a specific task: the initial evaluation of a business venture, launching a new product in the country. The members of the team will have the responsibility of developing a rock-solid initial recommendation of a go no-go decision.

In turn, the strategy will be assisted by

  • Being exposed to data on several topics, individually, and turn it into information useful for a business decision.
  • Gathering additional information on the same topics, to confirm or challenge the information previously found.
  • Sharing that information with other, something that requires communication abilities and acceptance of critiques.
  • Being able to detect main points and underlying dimensions in the information from which business consequences can be drawn

Throughout the course other learning techniques will be used, such as

  • Group discussion in class, something that requires ability to synthesize and communicate the main points; persuasion based on reasoning.
  • Independence of formal teams to make their own decisions and achieve their goal.
  • Class clarification with emphasis on the drawing of business consequences based on uncertain and confusing facts.

Evaluation system

Basic evaluation structure

Doing Business in Mexico is a course that evaluates students on two major aspects: class participation and team performance.

Class participation (20%)

Every class throughout the semester will be conducted as a business meeting. Nine to ten teams will be formed and about two to three will present each class a summary of findings for each class topic. Their participation will be evaluated on the following scale

  • Excellent = 100
  • Very good = 90
  • Satisfactory = 80-70
  • Not satisfactory = 60

Also, throughout the semester the instructor will keep track of individual students according to their individual performance under the same scale. Special emphasis will be placed in the transformation of data into information and the discovery of consequences for business decisions.

Parameters for class participation

What. Doing the readings and going beyond them to present a coherent summary of each topic as a team’s duty.How. Making a presentation to the rest of the class with questions and answers.

When. Every class during the semester will provide time for at least two team presentations allowing time for the instructors fine-tuning of contents.

Who. The teams will function as a basic performance unit.

Term project

The course permits two presentations of the project, one at the middle of the semester, the other one at the end. Each presentation will require a hard copy of the project and will be evaluated on the previous scale.  The mid term project will count 30% of the final grade. The final project will count for the remaining 50%.

Outline of the project.

First page. Title page with the following information: names of the members of the team, the name of the company you are working for and the product/brand you propose to launch in Mexico.

Second page. Background on the company you represent, like nationality, size, number of countries in which it operates and the like. A brief description of the product/brand you propose to launch in Mexico. Be concise and informative. Use only one page for this purpose.

Analysis of Opportunities and Threats. These should be referred to the country in general. Treat them separately, first Opportunities and then Threats. Under each, make a list of the things that you consider positive (Opportunities) and then another list of things that you consider negative (Threats). Each of the Opportunities and Threats is a short descriptive phrase many times followed by a short paragraph explaining it in more detail and containing the source(s) from which it was obtained. Be analytical and to the point. This section may take several pages, not more than three or four, listing each factor in order of importance.

Analysis of Strengths and Weaknesses. These should refer only to the product/brand that you will be launching. Therefore it is more specific and related to such product. The format of this part is the same as the previous one. Divide this section in two parts, one for Strengths and the other for Weaknesses. Under each of those headings list each of the Strengths and Weaknesses, in order of importance. Each Strength and each Weakness is also a short and concise phrase followed by a descriptive paragraph that contains the source of the information in it. This section may also take several pages, not more than three or four, listing each factor in order of importance.

The final page should contain a first recommendation, made by the scouting team regarding a yes-no decision for the launching of the brand, containing caveats and other clarifying notes, including future recommended actions prior to the final launching decision. It should not be longer than one page.

Parameters for the term project

What. Presenting on time the requested report.

How. The report will be evaluated according to the rubric.

When. Twice during the semester.

Who. Each team will be considered the basic performance unit.

Individual tracking and extra points

The instructor will keep track of individual performances of the students based on their involvement during the semester on the following scale

  • High and steady involvement +5
  • High but not steady involvement +3
  • Average involvement or below +0
  • Unsually low performance – 5

These points will de added to the final grade of each individual student. Possibly along the semester, optional work will be assigned counting extra points on an individual basis.

RULES AND POLICIES

Overview

Doing Business in Mexico is a difficult course for any professor, mainly because of the great variety of topics. Many of them would require specialists for details to be explained fully. However, the course will attempt to provide an ample summary of Mexico from a business perspective rather than going into details. Also, great prominence will be given to cultural aspects, which is probably the most important factor when doing business abroad. It is important to be bilingual, but it is even better to be bicultural, even if you are not that good in a foreign language. The course is divided in two major modules. The first section is Mexico and the second is Doing Business. About half of the course will be dedicated to each section.

Student participation

The course is heavily based on student participation during class. It is expected that each student has done the readings for every class (this is an important part of the final evaluation).  A different set of readings is given for every week according to the assigned topics and it will be expected for the student to go beyond those readings to find new sources of information and share them with the rest of the students. It is expected that students be on time and remain in class during the complete session. Mobile phones and similar gadgets should be turned off. This is standard expected behavior in business meetings

Business mentality

This is a course about doing business. Thus a business mentality will prevail. What this means is that students will be expected to fully prepare for each class. A class groundwork means two things. First, the readings must have been done and second, additional materials will be expected. See the team notes below. Each class will simulate a business meeting in a company. Everyone is expected to contribute to the discussion with valuable viewpoints. The professor will act as the CEO of the company asking questions and expecting reasonable answers.

Computers and applications

Each student is required to have a PC or easy access to one. The applications needed are MS Word or other word processor, Power Point or other similar applications to make presentations, Acrobat Reader for PDF files and a navigator such as Explorer, Netscape, or Safari. Many files are available only in PDF formats or html/navigator formats.

What not to expect

Students should no expect the traditional professor-as- lecturer approach in this class. The course assumes strong student participation during class discussions. Based on the information provided in the reading materials, class time will be dedicated to generate conclusions useful for the final project. The course guide provides data and its sources. The data has to be translated into information and information into meaningful business recommendations.

Time requirements

The class is 90 minutes long, twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Each class will require on average the same amount of preparation, sometimes more depending on the subject. Thus, the student should also make provisions in her/his agenda for the following typical week agenda:

  • Two ninety-minute periods dedicated to class discussions.
  • About 3 hours per week dedicated to readings and team meetings
  • Time dedicated to writing the project review and the final project.

A note on language

The course will use English as the “official” language, however the student is expected to understand some very basic Spanish. The professor’s native language is Spanish, however he is fluent in English. These circumstances will undoubtedly cause some confusion occasionally, especially if there are students from non-English speaking countries. The student is asked to understand mistakes and errors in the use of English.

Class attendance

According to internal regulations it is compulsory to attend all classes. Any student who misses more than four classes will not get credit for the course. Special cases will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

The term project

The course is based on a final project to be developed during the whole semester. This project is a written report to be developed by teams of students under the following terms. You will be asked to present a final project for this course. This is a business plan analysis under the following requirements:

  • It is a team project. No less than three and not more than four students will form each team. Teams should meet regularly according to students’ schedules. Since each class is a business meeting the students are expected to prepare for such meeting.
  • It will be assumed that each team is a scouting squad sent to Mexico by a company not currently based in the nation. It is the intention of the company to gather information relevant to a decision on introducing a certain product in México. Each team will choose a company and a product.
  • It is expected that the teams will be formed by the first class of the second week. Each team will present the team members, the company and the product in a sheet of paper during the first class of the second week.
  • Your mission is to provide this information that will be a part of a later to be developed business plan. The team is to analyze the country in terms of a SWOT approach. This means finding Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. In other words, you do not have to write the business plan, just the SWOT report.
  • Opportunities and Threats refer to the overall situation of the country.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses refer to the specifics of the product under analysis.
  • The top management of your company expects you to give high quality information, well analyzed and presented, with a reasoned first recommendation to be later evaluated by the top management.
  • The company expects the scouting team to gather information but also to get a feeling of the people. So, you are expected to talk to Mexicans, maybe even have formal interviews with some of them. You are expected to walk around the city, visit museums and eat the local traditional food. For this purpose it will be helpful to organize on your own a visiting schedule for the main sites in the city, not only the touristy places.
  • SWOT analysis

If you are not aware of this management tool, you can look up in books or sites like this one or some other sources. So, before working on your project, be sure to familiarize yourself with this technique.

Opportunities and Threats are usually related to a business in general. Strengths and Weakness are generally related to external factors. In this course we will take a different view that will no alter the essence of this technique.

For this course Opportunities and Threats will be referred to the country in general. This is an overall evaluation of the country. Strengths and Weakness will be referred to the specifics of the company and product you have selected. Be sure to have this in mind. Looking at two or three sources of information will give you a good source of inspiration for developing your project framework.

&&&&&

Doing Business in Mexico

 

 

MODULE ONE: MEXICO

 

 

First week: introduction to the course

The main objective of the first week is to introduce the course to the students. We will take our time to start the course from a solid foundation. It is a course about doing business abroad, using Mexico as an example of the approach you can use in other countries.

First day activities

In class activities, with an informal approach: first, an introduction by the professor, background, experience, education and the like. Then, an introduction by the individual students. Each student in expected to present him/herself to the rest of the class, mentioning name, country and city of origin, university and reasons for coming to Monterrey.

Additional information is welcomed from the student, such as expectations for the course, other courses taken during the semester and any other that may be relevant. Please listen to your fellow students and use their information to form work teams in a few days.

Overview of the course: we will review the 16-week program and establish critical dates. Also, we will look at basic course information (look up and read the complete section im page 1)

Teams. Students will be asked to form teams, with a minimum of three members and a maximum of four. Teams will be as cross-cultural as possible. These will be the formal teams for the course project.

There is no textbook for the course, but you may find useful Glenn Reed and Roger Gray, How to do business in Mexico, Centro de Estudios para Extranjeros ITESM, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1997, ISBN 0-292-77079-0. You can find it in the library, together with some others that deal with the same topic. Chose the one that you like and is available.

Second day activities

The introduction to the course continues. Please bring questions and comments for an open discussion with a flexible agenda about Mexico, business management and other topics. This will help us understand an essential trait of this course: it is not your regular university course, it is a simulation of a business meeting. What this means is that you will have to participate in class and your participation will be graded.

ATTENTION

Please, remember this is not a course based on lectures by the professor. The students have to participate, just as in a business meeting. This will probably cause a cultural shock in some students —it’s ok, it happens sometimes. The student that goes through this shock will have to make a little more effort in the beginning.

Second week: introduction to Mexico

The main objective of the second week is to provide the student with an overall view of the country by reviewing its geography and perceptions about different nationalities.

ATTENTION

For each class I will assume that you have prepared for it, following the instructions given —but more importantly, that you have gone beyond that. The materials you have prepared for each class will be the basis for your participation.  If the student fails in this respect, the grades will reflect it.  You are required to come to each class as prepared as possible. That is, having read at least the materials suggested and ready to make intelligent comments, as in a business meeting. The professor will act as a CEO, guiding the discussion and asking questions.

First day activities: first impressions on Mexico

Before class, write down in your notebooks words or short phrases than you think represent the main ideas that are prevalent about Mexico in the city where you live. Bring them to class. It is a list of about 20 words or phrases. During class we will do the following.

  • The professor will select students at random asking for the main ideas about Mexico and will write them in the blackboard.
  • After ideas become repetitive, the whole class will try to form categories of those idea and discussions will begin.
  • We will try to see to what extent persons are affected by stereotypes and inaccurate information.
  • Some time will be assigned to Q&A regarding the course.
  • ¿Can you come up with clichés about other nationalities?

Second day activities: geography

Before class, look at Mexico’s geography: location in the world, coasts, main cities, river mountains, etc.  Your mission here is to find maps of Mexico and interpret them. You will talk about that during class. Make notes of the things that you consider interesting, relevant, specially those that you think may have important business consequences.

  • http://www.inegi.gob.mx/ It is the site on Mexico’s government information agency. You will find it useful during the course. There are come sections in English. Find maps and see what they can tell you about the country. Look at what the data means. For example, Mexico’s border with the USA, the amount of coastlines, etcetera. Explore the political division. Try to locate the cities that you know in the country. Get a sense of distances using the list of cities in the same site.
  • Look for other sources of information in other sites and books. You are expected to know about Mexico’s geography.

During class we will do the following. The professor will select students at random asking for those ideas about Mexico’s geography and will write them in the blackboard. A brief class discussion will follow on the topic. The big topic here is to come up with ideas about the business consequences of the geography of the country.

Other sources

These are some departure points for further research. The links may work or not —that’s life in the WEB. Don’t limit yourself to these suggestions go beyond them.

These are suggestions only. Go beyond them. Hint: a most interesting topic for discussion can come up when looking at old maps, around 1700 and before.

Third Week: census data

This week is also part of the introduction to the country. We will look at Census data.  And on the second day, we will be forming the work teams; this is an important part of the learning process, working with people from different nationalities.

ATTENTION

Remember what was said before. You need to be prepared for each class, just like when in the future you will attend a business meeting.

First day activities

Before class, read the document on Census Data English (see below the PDF document). Make notes of the things that call your attention and bring them to class. We will function as previously. During class we will do the following:

  • As before, the professor will select students and ask for their notes on the reading. Students are expected to talk about the things that they considered relevant in the reading for this day.
  • A discussion will follow looking for business consequences. This is the main point today: looking at the census data and thinking about business consequences.

During next class the teams will be formed —so, look closely at other students and try to form a team with who you think are the best.

Second day activities

This class will be assigned to two objectives, for which you need to read today’s file below on your term project.

  • First, a few minutes for students to form their teams. The teams have to be a cross-cultural as possible with no more than four members.
  • Second, teams will meet during class and take a few minutes to discuss their project and decide about it. Remember that your team is on a mission: to explore the possibility of launching a foreign product in Mexico (for more information, go to today’s file) .

During class each team will talk about the product they have selected.

Important! The last page contains an explanation of your term project in full. It is strongly advised to download this information to you computer and/or print it for future reference.

Fourth Week: abrief view of Mexican history

This fourth week the course will be devoted to a bird’s eye view of the country’s history.

First day activities

Before class, read Mexico’s history by periods (here look for the PDF below Tablas de historia mexicana). Mexico’s history is a complicated one, full of names, places and events. This reading will provide you with an overall view that you may use in further readings. You will notice that it is a list of Mexican presidents, emperors and heads of state starting with the Aztec Empire. Also before class, use the data in the reading to calculate the means or averages of years in power by each head of state by period. For example, what was the average duration of an Aztec emperor in power during that period? Do the same for the colonial period, the Independence and so on. Do this individually and bring your data to class. Think of creative ways to present your results. During class we will do the following.

  • The professor will select at random students asking them about the readings main points and the average duration of a head of state during each period.
  • A class discussion will follow using that information and we will develop a graphical representation of those averages.

Second day activities

For this second class of the week you are on your own. You are free to look for more information with emphasis on Mexico’s history. Yes, you have a specific mission: to explore by yourself and come to class with the material you have found. You are individually responsible for this. The following sites maybe a starting point for your search.

During class the professor will randomly select students asking them about their own research on Mexico’s history.

Fifth Week: the last 50 years or so

The events during the last half of the last century are key to understand Mexico today. A closed country with an authoritarian regime became a free trade champion with a peaceful government transition in 2000.

First day activities

Prior to class, look for Mexico: the last 50 years or so and read the first three sections The Mexican Miracle, Populism and The Apertura. This reading is in this week’s file. The reading is a collection of data that should be put together by the student. During class we will do the following.

  • The professor as usual will select students asking for their thoughts on the assigned reading: things that they thought were the most relevant.
  • A class discussion will follow.

Second day activities

Prior to class, same as before, each student will read the remaining parts of Mexico: the last 50 years or so. These are Economic Lessons and Mexico’s Political System. Remember the document is a collection of pieces that should be put together. Today we will do the same as the class before.

Other sources

For this week, the following reference materials will be used.

A useful reminder

Remember you are acting as a member of a team. Each student is expected to contribute to the team’s project. So, it is perfectly natural to divide the work among the team members so more can be covered and achieved. This implies a strong individual responsibility for the tasks the person will undertake. If a member fails to achieve its objectives he/she will hurt the performance of the team.

Sixth Week: cultural traits

The main objective of this week is to explore cultural traits in Mexico. This is probably the most important variable when doing business in a foreign country and the most difficult to master.

First day activities

Prior to class, do the readings individually and make notes. Bring those notes to class. Take notes of anything that may have seen especially interesting or that for any reason may have surprised you.  The main reading is here. But also talk to Mexican nationals, maybe the students you know, and ask them about what they consider Mexican cultural traits. This is an individual assignment. During class, we will do the following

  • Each formal team will have a business meeting in order to exchange the information each member has gathered
  • Then each formal team will present what they believe is the major point they have found. The rest of the teams will analyze that point and its business consequences. It is expected that about half of the teams will present their main points and hear a critique.

Second day activities

Prior to class no activities are foreseen. But the formal teams are free to have a meeting in order to keep exchanging their ideas. Also, teams are free to have meetings with other teams and exchange information. During class the meeting started last class will recommence with the rest of the teams presenting their main findings. Now, with all the information you have to try to develop business consequences generated by those cultural traits. Remember that each class is a business meeting and the professor will be acting as a CEO asking questions and making comments… and of course, he will try to help the students. However, the central mechanism for this course is class discussion and the sharing of information.

Seventh Week: overview of the country

The main objective of this week is to explore an information resource that is useful and not very frequently used. Many Internet sites provide serious and reliable information on Mexico, in English.  This information may be invaluable in the SWOT analysis. The students will look for sites that provide information about the country, like The Economist, the CIA, the WB and others that generally give comparative data.

First day activities

Prior to class, do the search for more sites, do the readings and make notes. As always bring those notes to class. Take notes of anything that may have seen especially interesting or that for any reason may have surprised you. This is an individual assignment, but team efforts are allowed. In other words, look for summary information about Mexico and bring them to class, together with your own conclusions. During class, we will do the following

  • The professor will randomly ask students to review the readings on this week’s topic.
  • A discussion will follow.

Second day activities

Prior to class, you should do more research on the topic and make notes of your findings. During class the review will continue.

ATTENTION

This is week seven and remember that in week nine the teams will be presenting their first part of the project: the opportunities and threats section —the one related to investigate the country as an investment opportunity, which means that all the projects will look very similar.

Information sources.

Eighth Week: (a break) on entrepreneurship

This week we will have a break, that is we will look at something not related directly to the course. The topic is entrepreneurship and creativity. The reason for this change is a simple one. You are supposed to be part of a squad that is scouting the country with one purpose, to look for a business opportunity. Your company has sent you to Mexico in order to provide the top management with first hand information relating to the launching of a new product within Mexico. And of course you have to be creative. Most importantly, you are playing one of the major roles in business, that of an entrepreneur. You are trying to find opportunities and what that means is situations in the future that nobody but you has foreseen. You are a true discoverer.

First day activities

Prior to class do the readings here. Do this individually. During class we will do the following.

  • Some students will be asked to present their analysis of the main points made by each of the authors in the indicated reading. Be ready as always. You may be asked to write those main points in the blackboard.
  • All students are expected to do the following on their own: write a one-paragraph summary of what you think is an entrepreneur. This will be graded.

ATTENTION

Next week the teams’ presentations will take place.

Second day activities

For this second day attendance is not compulsory. The class will be dedicated to questions and answers on your project. Attendance is voluntary for students who have questions about the project.

WHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP?

A manager is not an entrepreneur —one is reacting and the other is acting. Moreover, entrepreneurs flourish in a free environment. They need freedom to act and perform their function. To the extent that freedom in limited, their role diminishes making them unable to benefit themselves and others. So, if you want to be an entrepreneur you need to have a philosophy, a way to understand freedom, the good and the bad things. The following is a list of highly recommended books in case you want to develop such philosophy:

  • Callahan, Gene (2002). ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE AUSTRIAN SCHOOL. Alabama. Ludwig von Mises Institute. 0945466358.
  • Bastiat, Frederic (1996). ECONOMIC SOPHISMS. (Arthur Goddard). Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y. Foundation for Economic Education. 0910614148 (pbk.).
  • Brenner, Reuven (2002). THE FORCE OF FINANCE: TRIUMPH OF THE CAPITAL MARKETS. New York: London. Texere. 1587991306.
  • Buchanan, James M (1975). THE LIMITS OF LIBERTY: BETWEEN ANARCHY AND LEVIATHAN. Chicago. University of Chicago Press. 0226078191.
  • Cox, Jim (1997). THE CONCISE GUIDE TO ECONOMICS. [Savannah, Ga.?]. Savannah-Pikeville Press. 1570872929.
  • Friedman, David D (1996). HIDDEN ORDER: THE ECONOMICS OF EVERYDAY LIFE. New York, NY. HarperBusiness. 0887307507.
  • Friedman, Milton, Friedman, Rose D (1990). FREE TO CHOOSE: A PERSONAL STATEMENT. San Diego. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 0156334607.
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  • Henderson, David (2004). THE ROLE OF BUSINESS IN THE MODERN WORLD. London. Institute of Economic Affairs. 0255365489.
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  • Kennedy, Paul M (1989). THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GREAT POWERS: ECONOMIC CHANGE AND MILITARY CONFLICT FROM 1500 TO 2000. New York. Vintage Books. 0679720197.
  • Landsburg, Steven E (1993). THE ARMCHAIR ECONOMIST: ECONOMICS AND EVERYDAY LIFE. New York Toronto New York. Free Press Maxwell Macmillan Canada Maxwell Macmillan International. 0029177758.
  • Muller, Jerry Z (2002). THE MIND AND THE MARKET: CAPITALISM IN MODERN EUROPEAN THOUGHT. New York. Alfred A. Knopf. 0375414118.
  • Novak, Michael (2004). THE UNIVERSAL HUNGER FOR LIBERTY. New York. Basic Books. 0465051316.
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  • Postrel, Virginia I (1998). THE FUTURE AND ITS ENEMIES: THE GROWING CONFLICT OVER CREATIVITY, ENTERPRISE, AND PROGRESS. New York. Free Press. 0684827603.
  • Rothbard, Murray Newton (1971). MAN, ECONOMY, AND STATE; A TREATISE ON ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES. Los Angeles. Nash Pub. 0840212232.
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MODULE TWO: DOING BUSINESS

Ninth Week: project review finally!

The main objective for this week is to examine and appraise the team projects at this stage. Students will benefit from their own presentations and third party perspectives. Students are expected to comment on their fellow students work.

  • All teams will be presenting their projects: use PowerPoint or any other method; each team has about 10 minutes, so be brief and to the point.
  • All teams will be presenting their written reports on the first day; no exceptions.

CAUTION

Remember this is the first part of your project dealing with opportunities and threats only. That is evaluating the country in general as a business opportunity, so that all projects will look very much the same since you are analyzing the same variables.

First day activities

Prior to class your team should prepare for this week’s project presentations. See the project’s layout and parts. Bring transparencies or a computer. Use the screen in the class and the blackboard. All members of the team should present it. During class we will do the following.

  • The members of each team will have not more than 10 minutes to present their project according to the specified parts. About five groups randomly selected will present their projects.
  • Pay attention to the projects of other teams, since you will be asked to rate them according to their usefulness for decision-making.

Second day activities

The presentations will continue. Have in mind, please, that what each team shares with the rest of the class will benefit their work. Again, the professor will act as an executive who is dedicating time to review the advance of the teams. The remaining teams will present today.

GRADES

This part of your grade will account for 30% of the final grade. The final project, to be presented at the end of the course will account for 50%. The remaining 20% is your class participation. The grades for this part of the project will appear early next week. Each team will receive back their project with comments: in case of a low grade, you will be asked to redo parts of it.

Tenth Week: Mexico, the market

After examining the country in general during the first weeks, from week nine we turned our attention to more business related features of Mexico. It seems natural to include an overview of the markets in Mexico.

First day activities

Before class, as always, prepare yourself. Look for information on Mexican markets. You could read Glenn Reed and Roger Gray, How to do business in Mexico, Centro de Estudios para Extranjeros ITESM, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1997, ISBN 0-292-77079-0, chapter 1 Mexico City The Market, pp. 1-4; chapter 7 Major Markets, pp. 41-57; and chapter 10, Advertising, pp. 85-90. And if you do not find this reading in the library, find some other similar.

Hint: look for information on foreign companies established in Mexico and see how they are doing, specially your competitors direct and indirect. During class, we will discuss the main points in the readings and start applying them to some of the projects.

Second day activities

Before class you are expected to discuss with the members of your team the effects of those main points mentioned in the first day. So, look for more information on Mexico as a market in areas that apply to your team project. Hint: look also for information on related markets; i.e. if you are launching imported furniture, look into construction figures, cement sales and things that may correlate with your product. During class, we will refer to some of the projects and think about business consequences from our readings. Volunteer students will be presenting their results from this search. The rest of the students will be making comments.

Sources of information

Glenn Reed and Roger Gray, How to do business in Mexico, Centro de Estudios para Extranjeros ITESM, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1997, ISBN 0-292-77079-0  Look for other information sources, like lists of foreign companies in Mexico.

CAUTION

There is a high probability that by now some frustration has grown in some of the students because of the obligation to assist to class and because the professor is not a lecturer. Fine. It is normal. But remember in real business you have to attend to the meetings and your superior will not lecture you —exceptionally he will— but you will have to present to him/her your work. For this class, I will bring some material for discussion on market research, advertising, media selection, and other aspects of the markets.

Eleventh Week: field experience

The main objective of this week is to give the student the opportunity to take a closer look at the city. By now, about three months have passed since the arrival of the student to this city. You should visit stores and production facilities and talk to locals, particularly consumers. This is a good time for each team to start working on the final version of the term project.

First day activities

There will be no formal on the first day of this week. The teams and their members will have a meeting and assign tasks among themselves to visit at least three “locations” in the city that are relevant for their project. These may include, for example, visits to stores like supermarkets, travel agencies, automobile dealers or meetings with local firms. You are urged to take the initiative and talk to local people. If your product has to do with tourism maybe you should visit hotels and restaurants; even talk to advertising people if necessary. Please be sure to carry a personal ID if you are visiting a store (supermarkets, for example, tend to be rather suspicious of people that are doing research within their facilities with no prior permission).

Second day activities

We will meet in class to exchange information. Each team will bring an account of its field activities: places they visited, people they met and anecdotes. This is an informal activity. It is the responsibility of each team to bring their findings to this class.

Sources of information

These are only suggestions and probably worth very little for your particular project. You should look for the specific information you need, always trying to determine the keys success variables for your business.

Twelfth Week: the foreign factor

The main objective of this week is to take a look at foreign economic activities in Mexico. This is a very broad and ample topic that will be covered only in its main points: international trade, foreign investment and the maquiladoras.

First day activities

Before class, do the readings on the maquiladoras. Take notes of the main points about this topic and bring them to class. Also, find information on sweatshops and develop a personal position on the topic. Are you against or in favor? During class, some students will be selected to present their main findings in the readings. Later the sweatshops concept will be discussed.

Second day activities

Continue working on your project and bring questions to class. During class the professor will present material on the concerns of foreign investors.

Sources of information

These are only suggestions. You are encouraged to look for more information. The main point here is for you to eventually develop a personal philosophy on globalization, free markets and free trade and be able to sustain it against attacks from many fronts, some of them very reasonable, and others really silly. Your management abilities need to be supported by philosophical and moral principles, yes moral, every human action is a moral action.

Thirteenth Week: management styles

The main objective of this week is to underline the importance of the most intangible variable when doing business in a foreign country, cultural differences and their manifestations in management customs. It goes well beyond language and being bilingual. It is becoming bicultural which means being able to envisage problems and opportunities uniquely related to the country. It is the understanding of the people and being accepted as one of them.

First day activities

Prior to class, do the required reading Management Styles, but also look for information on your own about this topic. From that material select the things that you find most relevant for business decisions… like a list of main points on the topic. During class we will do the following.

  • Selected students will be asked to present briefly what they found regarding management styles in Mexico.
  • The professor will present an organized view of Mexican management styles and their business consequences.

ATTENTION

Important! Individual task. Bring for next class a one page printed profile with the traits of the person who would be ideal for doing business in Mexico. Think about a request front the company you work for. Based on your knowledge about Mexico you should now develop a list of traits that the ideal person should have for doing business in Mexico. It’s an individual task. Bring a printed copy.

Second day activities

Bring the printed copy of your profile on the ideas person to do business in Mexico —with our name on it. We will use it for a class exercise.

Sources of information

Fourteenth Week labor laws and…

There are two objectives this week. First, a brief review of labor law and its business consequences. Secondly, the professor will review some key aspects for attracting and maintaining human talent. We will only have a formal class the first day. The second day will be dedicated to individual project reviews. Remember your projects will be presented next week.

First day activities

Prior to class, read article 123 of the Mexican Constitution (in this week’s file). Get a feeling of what it says and its business consequences. During class, we will do the following.

  • The professor will explain some of the details of the labor law.
  • The professor will present a graph on how to interpret the dynamic aspect of your project.

ATTENTION

You will be presenting your projects next week, during both days. But the projects, all of them, will be delivered on Tuesday regardless of the date of your presentation.

Second day activities

We will no have class this day. However, students who wish to do so will meet in class as always for brief consultation with the professor on their particular project.

Sources of information

Fifteenth Week project presentations

The main activity of the last two weeks is to present the reports of each team. These presentations will be business oriented: each team will present to the rest of the class and will be evaluated as to the usefulness of their report for decision-making.

First and second day activities

The first 3 to 4 teams will present on the first day, the next teams on the second and so on. All students are required to assist. Each team will give the professor a written report of their project, according to the guidelines (these are on page 6). The team will have a maximum of 10 minutes for its presentation. The team is free to choose its presentation mode using the class projector or any other medium, including the simplest approach of just writing in the blackboard. Presentations will no be graded in themselves, but will influence the overall perception of the project. The following day the rest of the teams will present their projects. Each team will be asked to evaluate the projects of the other teams. In other words, pay great attention to the presentation of your fellow students, since you will be asked to vote on the best overall presentation based on its relevance for useful business consequences.

ATTENTION

The hard copy of your final project will need to be presented on the first day. This applies to all teams.

Sixteenth Week final feedback

The main activity of this week, in one final day of classes, is to review the lessons learned by students; the practical lessons of actually working in teams and solving problems in this course and in others.

First and only day activities

Before class, do the following: write down, print and bring to class:

  • The best thing that happened to you in this university during the semester.
  • The worst thing that happened you during the semester in this university.
  • The best thing than happened in your team for this course.
  • The worst thing than happened in your team for this course.

Bring those answers printed to class. We will work with them and try to find common patterns among the students

&&&&&

Your project

You will be asked to present a final project for this course. This is a business plan analysis under the following requirements:

  • It is a team project. No less than three and not more than four students will form each team. Teams should meet regularly according to students’ schedules.
  • It will be assumed that each team is a scouting squad sent to Mexico by a company not currently based in the nation. It is the intention of the company to gather information relevant to a decision on introducing a certain product in México. Each team will choose a company and a product.
  • Your mission is to provide this information that will be a part of a later to be developed business plan. The team is to analyze the country in terms of a SWOT approach. This means finding Opportunities and Threats, Strengths and Weaknesses. In other words, you do not have to write the business plan, just the SWOT report
  • Opportunities and Threats refer to the overall situation of the country.

[STOP HERE FOR THIS MID TERM PRESENTATION. DO NOT GO TO THE NEXT SECTIONS!]

  • Strengths and Weaknesses refer to the specifics of the product under analysis.
  • The top management of your company expects you to give high quality information, well analyzed and presented, with a reasoned first recommendation to be later evaluated by the top management.
  • The company expects the scouting team to gather information but also to get a feeling of the people. So, you are expected to talk to Mexicans, maybe even have formal interviews with some of them. You are expected to walk around the city, visit museums and eat the local traditional food. For this purpose it will be helpful to organize on your own a visiting schedule for the main sites in the city, not the touristy places.

The sections in your project

Take note of the following. It is vital information.

  • First page. Title page with the following information: names of the members of the team, the name of the company you are working for and the product/brand you propose to launch in Mexico.
  • Second page. Background on the company you represent, like nationality, size, number of countries in which it operates and the like. A brief description of the product/brand you propose to launch in Mexico. Be concise and informative. Use only one page for this purpose.
  • Analysis of Opportunities and Threats. These should be referred to the country in general. Treat them separately, first Opportunities and then Threats. Under each, make a list of the things that you consider positive (Opportunities) and then another list of things that you consider negative (Threats). Each of the Opportunities and Threats is a short descriptive phrase many times followed by a short paragraph explaining it in more detail and containing the source(s) from which it was obtained. Be analytical and to the point. This section may take several pages, not more than three or four, listing each factor in order of importance.

[STOP HERE FOR THIS MID TERM PRESENTATION. DO NOT GO TO THE NEXT SECTIONS!]

  • Analysis of Strengths and Weaknesses. These should refer only to the product/brand that you will be launching. Therefore it is more specific and related to such product. The format of this part is the same as the previous one. Divide this section in two parts, one for Strengths and the other for Weaknesses. Under each of those headings list each of the Strengths and Weaknesses, in order of importance. Each Strength and each Weakness is also a short and concise phrase followed by a descriptive paragraph that contains the source of the information in it. This section may also take several pages, not more than three or four, listing each factor in order of importance.
  • The final page should contain a first recommendation, made by the scouting team regarding a yes-no decision for the launching of the brand, containing caveats and other clarifying notes, including future recommended actions prior to the final launching decision. It should not be longer than one page.

This document should be presented in printed form (no e-mails accepted). It should use 12pt times font or similar for text, Section titles can use a bigger font, also times or similar.

Grading system (rubric)

Each project will be graded according to the following criteria

Flow of the report: 10 points

0 Points. The report appears to have no direction. It is disjointed and lacks a coherent organization. Does not fully follow the established sections.

3 Points. There is a basic flow from one paragraph to the next, but not all paragraphs follow in a logical order. The established sections are clear, but their contents lack meaning.

7 Points. There is a basic flow from one paragraph to the next. In general, it follows in a logical order. The established sections are followed and their contents have meaning.

10 Points. The report goes from general ideas to specific conclusions. Transitions tie paragraphs together well. The sections are clear and their contents have meaning.

Contents: 40 points

10 Points. The topic is of little significance to the content. Major sections of relevant content have been omitted. Conclusions are based on very weak reasoning.

20 Points. All major sections of the relevant content are included, but not covered as explicitly as expected. There is evidence of some reasoning to justify conclusions.

30 Points. All major sections of the relevant content are included. All sections are present and communicate logical conclusions, but some key factors have been omitted. There is unnecessary redundancy

40 Points. The appropriate content in consideration is covered with logical conclusions.  Key variables have not been omitted. Strong reasoning is clear and the report has business meaning.

Clarity of communication: 10 points

0 Points. Misspelled words, improper punctuation, and incorrect grammar are used. It is hard to know what the paper implies. Hard or impossible to read, the report is badly organized, dirty and poorly printed.

3 Points. Unnecessary words are used, but writing is generally clear. Paragraph structure is too repetitive.  The report is neither visually attractive nor well organized, maybe lacking visual differences between titles and paragraphs.

7 Points. Writing is clear. Proper punctuation and grammar used, but meaning is sometimes hidden.  Though visually attractive and organized there is room for improvement.

10 Points. Writing is clear and succinct. It is evident what the writer is trying to express. Grammar and punctuation are used appropriately.  The report is visually attractive and well organized, besides it contains some innovative items for the improvement of its communication power.

Synthesis: 30 points

5 Points. The conclusion of the report is not based on the previous analysis; its justification is weak and does not contain information that leads to clear business decisions.

15 Points. The conclusion of the report is based on the previous sections. However, the report doesn’t provide concluding remarks that provide a synthesis and analytical information that lead to clear business decisions.

25 Points. The report provides concluding remarks that clearly link to the previous sections. However, some of the conclusions are not supported in the body of the report. There may be some weak reasoning but the overall recommendation makes sense.

30 Points. The report has succinct and precise recommendations based on the previous sections. Also, the report provides concluding remarks that show an analysis and synthesis of ideas occurred. There is a clear sense of what the business decisions will be.

References: 10

0 Points. No references for the statements included in the report are provided. There are no sources of information in the report

6 Points. A corresponding reference list is presented, with enough information for the reader to refer to them.

10 Points. There is a list of clear references for the reader to check if so desired and the sources of information go beyond what was given in class.



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