There are quite a few things I learned about Brazilian corporate culture in my time here. Knowing the below helps one navigate the system and overall retain one’s sanity in the long run.
Bêtania Tanure is a very well known consultant and author on corporate culture and she has given a very good talk on the radio here. For those of you who understand Portuguese, it’s provided below.
Some of the most interesting key points are provided in the first 5 minutes. She summarizes the Brazilian corporate culture in 3 main aspects.
1. Adaptability and Flexibility, which is a positive in the current changing economic situation and overall uncertainty. The downside is that this comes with a lack of discipline, doing things last moment and looking for a jeitinho (tricks/shortcuts to go around the system).
2. Relational – to the envy of American corporate world, Brazilians are much more attached to their companies and leaders and overall work place, but the downside is that they find it hard to tell the difficult truth to friends and also give feedback.
3. Dealing with Power Structures – Brazilian corporate culture is much closer to the authoritarian style than the democratic one but seems like it’s evolving. However, this is a process that takes a lot of time and effort. One of the main pitfalls of this dynamic is that executives of Brazilian companies are often very weak, as they accustomed to delegating everything downward. The advantage of it (which frankly, sounds very conspicuous to me), is that decisions are centralized and in times of crisis, there is no confusion as to who is the decision maker.
I am starting to really feel like a local, as carnaval is rolling in and I already have my costume idea. After going to a costume party dressed as the Little Red Riding Hood (as last seen in 1991), I decided I need a more adult version – I think I’m gonna go for the sexy policewoman. I can hopefully catch two birds with one stone this way – be dressed for the occasion and scare away potential thieves ( who are plenty during the period).
Carnaval events are already all over town. Samba dancing with a bunch of strangers on the Copacabana broadwalk – this is what a typical pre-carnaval Sunday is all about.