Country Focus: Intercultural Nuances of Doing Business With Honduras

Before the popular GAP owned clothing store came along, the original “Banana Republic” was in reference to Honduras. Bananas, coffee, and wood are the main exports of Honduras. Located on the east side of Central America, the name Honduras was derived from the Spanish word la hondura, referring to the deep water off the country’s Caribbean coast.

The Roman Catholic Church, with about 97% of the population, influences Honduran society by providing structure through Catholic precepts and various holidays. Family, like in other Central American countries, is also highly important here and can be the deciding factor in individual decision making. There is an inherent trust in people because of the network between families, extended families, and friends. In addition to the influence of family and friends, Honduran society is a highly subjective society that bases its decisions on its own feelings, precepts of the Catholic Church, and Mayan cultural heritage. Hondurans, in general are more flexible and willing to see new options and ways of doing things—don’t be afraid to present new perspectives and ideas. Honduras is an open society that readily accepts change.

Honduran society is generally a more egalitarian society, in comparison with other regions of Central America, due, in part, to its relatively homogenous society. The homogenized mestizo society developed without institutionalized slavery, providing the foundations of pluralism in society. Many Hondurans, however, want to seek their prosperity and security elsewhere. There is a inscription above the jail in Trujillo stating, “La ley is duro, pero es la ley,” meaning more or less that the law is the law and that there is no changing it and really no escape from it. The upper classes may believe differently, but in this sense Honduran society is somewhat resigned to their situation, and play their part in respecting the hierarchy of it all.

Honduras is considered to be the pariah state due to its dependence on the U.S. and decreasing power within the region. Since 1990, Honduras has tried to reduce its dependence on the U.S. by encouraging investments from other nations with tax advantages and cheap labor. Honduras has many resident foreigners from Asian and Arab countries who have come to take care of tax advantages. These groups, however, do not have much political influence, mainly due to their lack of cohesion. When choosing foreign representatives for your company, choose someone local and check out their credentials. Make sure to build up confianza and simpatico and a personal relationship; one is less likely to betray a friend than a detached business professional. Harmonious interpersonal skills can compensate for lack of expertise. When purchasing, price may be the major deciding factor, but customer service is the next factor, remember they are buying your personality with the product.

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