Brazil: Cross Cultural Dynamics of Doing Business in Brazil

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PART A: Brief History of Brazil

Pedro Cabral first discovered Brazil in 1500, under Portugal sponsorship. After being ruled under Portuguese power for over three centuries, Brazil finally gained independence in 1822. The country preserved a monarchical system of government until 1888, the year in which slavery was finally eliminated. As the country prospered through Brazilian coffee exporters, Getulio Vargas soon rose to power and ruled the country in 1930. Based on the history of Brazil, there was high power distance as Getulio Vargas seized control of the country and politically dominated any rivals (CIA, 2012). There was also an apparent class of wealthy landowners who supported a highly centralized Portuguese state.

Geography

Brazil lies in Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest country in South America and the 5th largest country in the world, covering an area of 8,514,877 sq. km (8,459,417 sq. km of land and 55,460 sq. km of water), and has 10 countries around its borders. The land is mostly flat with some rolling lowlands in the north. Its lowest elevation point is the Atlantic Ocean, at 0 m, and its highest point is mountain Pico da Neblina, at 2,994 m. A prevailing environmental issue facing Brazil is deforestation in the Amazon Basin that has destroyed habits and endangered species.

Politics

The current President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, is part of the left party Partido dos Trabalhadores. She came into office January 1st, 2011, and has since dismissed seven cabinet ministers and many other government officials who were convicted of corruption such as overbilling on contracts. Ms. Rousseff is also trying to change the current trend of filling senior government jobs through ascription, specifically political connections, to achievement/merit. The president’s legislative agenda in 2012 includes introducing regulations associated with the 2014 World Cup, a reform of the public pension and completing the forestry law and distribution of Brazil’s oil discoveries (EIU, 2012).

PART B: Analysis of the Culture Using Foundation Models

Although Brazil is a Latin American country, it has unique characteristics that differentiate it significantly from other Latin American countries. The following cultural foundation models will be used to analyze Brazil’s management processes and business strategies: Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions, Trompenaars’ seven cultural dimensions, and Globe’s cultural dimensions.

Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

Hofstede’s Cultural Model examines 5 cultural dimensions: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, and time orientation. It is important for a MNC to review Brazil’s cultural dimensions before sending an expat on an assignment to this country, as its’ behaviours and beliefs differ significantly from that of Canadians. The following analysis will give a MNC in-depth information about how Brazil’s business context differs from Canada’s.

Power Distance

Power distance is described as "the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations accept that power is distributed unevenly” (Luthans, 2011, p. 116). Brazil’s highly moderate score of 69 in this dimension (see Appendix B on p. 26) exemplifies a hierarchical organizational system in which people not only accept authority, but they expect it. In the workplace, decision-making is very centralized, meaning only the powerful members of organizations have the responsibility and authority to make decisions, and subordinates in turn blindly obey the orders of their superiors. Organizations in Brazil have numerous supervisory positions, which can be expected in a high power distance country in which many employees working at lower levels of the structure have low job qualifications. This structure promotes and encourages inequality among people at different levels (Luthans, 2011)....
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