Mexico’s Perspective on Corporate Governance for Family Businesses
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven (Ecc. 3, 1).
Corporate governance plays a strategic role in defining the success and sustainability of any business. Family businesses are no exception. Moreover, corporate governance should be specifically pursued in these enterprises to avoid family conflicts and shape the success of the company.
In Mexico, the status of corporate governance for family enterprises is a dynamic landscape influenced by cultural, economic, and legal factors. Family enterprises are a significant part of Mexico's business fabric, contributing substantially to the country's economy. As per some studies (v.gr. KPMG, IPADE) as high as 90% of the Gross Domestic Product may be directly attributable to family business.
The traditional familial structures and the Latin American idiosyncrasy present unique challenges to effective corporate governance. It is customary to encounter blurred linesbetween family and business matters, which can lead to conflicts of interest, nepotism, and a lack of transparency, among others.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of implementing corporate governance initiativeswithin family enterprises in Mexico.
However, challenges persist. For example, the leader of the family and the founder of the enterprise, often the same person, is reluctant to relinquish control. Achieving balance between preserving family values and implementing professional management practices is paramount. This can hinder decision-making processes and impede the company's ability to adapt to challenging needs for modernization.
Another challenge lies in succession planning. In Mexico, family businesses often face difficulties in ensuring a smooth transition of leadership from one generation to the next. Succession issues can lead to power struggles, affecting the overall stability and growth of the enterprise.
To tackle these challenges, family business in Mexico, universities, and NGOs, such as the Economic Coordination Council (Consejo Coordinador Empresarial or CCE) have promoted initiatives that allow business of all magnitudes (including family businesses) to adopt best practices in corporate governance. Establishing independent boards, implementing clear governance structures, and fostering a culture of professionalism can enhance decision-making processes and mitigate conflicts of interest. Additionally, investing in education and training programs for family members involved in the business can contribute to a more skilled and informed leadership team. Encouraging a mindset shift towards embracing external expertise can lead to innovative solutions and improved business practices.
The status of corporate governance for family enterprises in Mexico is evolving, driven by a recognition of the need for transparency and professionalism. While challenges persist, opportunities for improvement exist through the adoption of best practices and a commitment to balancing family values with effective business management. As Mexico continues to navigate this dynamic landscape family owners are recognizing that corporate governance is the company’s operating system.
By Gonzalo Alarcon I.