100% immersion in a foreign business culture is the most valuable learning experience offered by GLOBASE. In Peru, students must first build a rapport with the client firm or organization before they “get down to business” and discuss details of the project. Clients want to first talk about a student’s family life and personal interests. The line between personal and professional life is blurred in Latin America because managers want to know exactly with whom they are dealing.
In Latin America, the priority placed on relationships instills loyalty (both from employee to manage and manager to employee) and a sense of personal place in the organization. This type of solidarity allows organizations in Latin America to drive performance and productivity in ways unfamiliar to U.S. employers. The U.S. workplace is mostly transactional with a common attitude of “don’t waste my time talking about your personal life”. In Peru, listening to a boss or employee talk about their personal life becomes an investment in instead of a liability to the enterprise. This is one refreshing fact that draws me to Latin America as a management scholar.
A culture which emphasizes personal linkages makes Latin organizations much less lonelier places to work than their U.S. counterparts. The next time a U.S. company complains about a lack of employee loyalty, they should look south for a “back to basics” lesson in human resource management. This is a lesson GLOBASE Peru participants take back to Bloomington – a lesson that could not be learned within the confines of a classroom.