McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale insists his team are not prepared to "pay telephone number salaries" to keep hold of personnel.
The Woking squad lost Lewis Hamilton at the end of last year with Mercedes reportedly paying him £15million per year and former technical director Paddy Lowe is set to follow the 2008 World Champion to Brackley.
Although he concedes McLaren will miss Lowe, Neale says Mercedes offered an "exotic salary".
"I don't review the situation as being a management slip up. I am not surprised that people are coming through this team at the moment prepared to pay exotic salaries for people and wait 12 months to get them," he is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
"I would be disappointed if we weren't regarded as the place to come and hire good people from because then I wouldn't be doing my job. You have got a team and you want to buy some short-term know-how, then you can go out and pay telephone number salaries."
Neale admits he tried to persuade Lowe to stay, adding: "Even if you have got what you think is a watertight contract, the reality of the situation is that if somebody rolls up on Monday and says, 'I don't like being here, I don't like the cut of your jib, you are not paying me enough money or whatever' then even if you had the contract to tie them in, and in this case we did have a good contract, you don't want them in the team anyway."
With Lowe heading to Mercedes, there have been suggestions that team principal Ross Brawn could be on his way out.
Asked whether McLaren would be tempted to move for Brawn, Neale replied: "Ross, by his own admission, would say he hasn't achieved what he wanted to in the last few years.
"He is still a fantastic guy and still well respected through the industry - a great leader of men and a good technical guy. But it is about the chemistry and the blend, that is my view."