CEMEX in Mexico:

Constructing the Path to Responsible Competitiveness 


Héctor Díaz-Sáenz

Loretta Serrano


EGADE Business School Mexico

Published in


This case describes CEMEX Mexico’s situation in 2004, shortly after its social responsibility committee was created and started working. Two distinctive social engagement stages depicted. During the first stage, the company’s social responsibility approach was paternalistic and lacking in strategic direction. The second stage started as a result of several organizational changes undertaken to streamline and focus social engagement efforts. This shift was initiated in the late 1990s, when CEMEX reviewed its contingency management processes and fueled the creation of its Social Responsibility Department, the coordination of community relations and the establishment of its Communications and Social Responsibility Committees.

While CEMEX’s social initiatives had begun to bear fruits, the company faced the challenge of incorporating a responsible approach to the company’s culture. Social responsibility was a strategy known mainly to top management, but it was not explicitly embedded in training, recruiting, compensation or performance evaluation practices. This hindered its seamless introduction into the company’s organizational culture.

The case describes the organizational change process (in terms of strategy, structure and culture) that unfolded as a result of the company’s social responsibility adoption. There was little evidence to assess how deep this cultural change really was. A personnel survey had revealed that most employees were unaware of CEMEX’s community-oriented initiatives. Thus, the Social Responsibility Department’s goal was to turn this issue into a personal trait for both the company and its employees –i.e., to embed it in CEMEX Mexico’s DNA.

This case provides an opportunity to discuss the progress and opportunity windows in organizations’ social responsibility adoption and institutionalization in their operations and culture. It may be used in courses on corporate social responsibility strategic management and cultural change.