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Subject: How is it different doing business in Brasil?

Posted by CÚline
On Wednesday, February 09, 2000 at 17:23:12

I, I'm a student in international management and I need some information about the way brasilians do business. What would surprise a Canadian the most in doing business in Brasil. I'm looking at the way the organisations are structured, the philosophy of management, the impact of religion on business practices, the way managers perceive their role, respect of authority by employees, leadership, team work or individualism, time horizon (arrive early or late at work?), personal or impersonal relation in business (getting to know each other before getting to business?) Communication (physical and oral), women percepcion in the work force, corruption, power,
Thanks in advance

RE: How is it different doing business in Brasil?
Posted by Nathan
On Thursday, February 10, 2000 at 04:43:47

There is more of an emphasis on personal relationships. Be prepared to discuss your family, current events, last night's soccer match, etc. prior to getting down to 'the bottom line'. The idea is that you have to know someone, trust someone, in order to do business with them.

Perhaps the most striking difference is corruption, though. Government bureaucracy is bad anywhere (as a Canadian, you should be painfully aware of that already), but in Brazil it's far worse than a North American is accustomed to.

The bureaucratic inertia almost necessitates bribery. Even the North American and European multinationals (which tend to have stricter ethical guidelines) routinely hire 'expediters' to 'grease the wheels'. An 'expediter' is someone in the bureaucracy with a lot of friends, who is paid to see to it that your case receives prompt attention. Without the aid of an expediter, even the simplest documents (such as visas) can languish for an excrutiatingly long time. Corruption is so widely accepted in Brazil that it isn't even thought of as corruption. Instead it's called a 'jeitinho' - a clever little maneuver that allows you to get around inconvenient rules. This ethos permeates Brazilian society.

Another difference that would take some getting used to is the lack of personal safety. If you work in Brazil long enough, you can expect to have some kind of incident (or at least know someone who has). The most common is having a gun pointed at you while stuck in traffic. This can happen even at high noon. Usually, if you're calm, and hand over all your money, you'll be fine. But I'm told it's a really jarring thing to go through. That's another cost of doing business in Brazil that you might not read in an international management text. But 'quality of life' issues can affect work performance.

Along the same lines, a black North American in Brazil will almost certainly experience more outright discrimination than he is accustomed to at home. This surprises a lot of people, who like to think of Brazil as a 'racial democracy'. While there is more racial diversity in Brazil, the idea of white superiority is paradoxically more deeply ingrained there. A black American expatriate will most likely be the only black in his company. He will encounter discrimination from people who would themselves be considered minorities in America. Even though he might only be a waiter or a doorman, a lighter skinned mulatto will consider himself 'superior' to the black executive he is supposed to serve. A case in point: a brown-skinned porteiro wouldn't allow a well-dressed black American couple to use the social elevator when visiting their friends' apartment. They were sent to the service elevator - which is typically reserved only for 'the help'. Repeated experiences like this caused this black American expat to cut short his assignment in Brazil.

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