Brazilian Business Structures

As with most South American countries, Brazilian companies will tend to be organised along strictly hierarchical lines with information flowing in a very structured way up and down the various chains of command.

As in most structured hierarchies, most key decisions will be made at the most senior levels of an organisation and all international negotiators are well advised to try to develop a good understanding of the corporate structure of any potential partner – as a great deal of time and resource could potentially be wasted by trying to get a decision out of somebody who does not really have the requisite level of authority.

Try to find out the exact structure of the organisation, people’s position within a department relative to their colleagues etc., but be aware of an added complication. The organisation chart you are shown may not reflect the way in which power actually flows within the organisation due to the complicating factor of the power of personal relationships. Business organisations are riddled with internal politics where one’s allegiance to an individual may be considered of greater importance than any reporting lines on an organisation chart. (Trying to understand the intricacies of these internal relationships could be another example of where the use of a local middleman or despachante could prove invaluable.)

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Brazil

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Brazil is a country with almost limitless potential. The problem is that Brazil has been a country with almost limitless potential for many decades but very, very little of that potential has actually been realised. The country seems to be constantly trapped in a cycle of political corruption leading to economic crisis followed by periods of growth which breed renewed optimism.

In addition, Brazil is a notoriously difficult country from a market entry perspective with massively protectionist policies being further complicated by very strongly pro-employee legislation and a labyrinthine system of inter-state taxes.

Having said all of that, Brazil is rich in mineral wealth (you name it and it can be found in Brazil) and has a rapidly growing population which is predominantly young and aspirational. There is also a growing recognition in the country that the historical inherent barriers to growth must be tackled and upsurge in populist demands for changes to happen.

The only way is up for Brazil and that makes it a very attractive mid to long-term investment opportunity. If you are thinking of doing business in Brazil now is probably the time to start the process. Many foreign companies have successfully navigated the complexities of Brazil and built solid businesses there in the past and the future looks bright.

If you speak to business people who have worked in Brazil they will all tell you the same thing – that the key doing successful business in Brazil is to develop a deep understanding of Brazilian commercial culture. You really to need to study the work-related culture and work out how you can best attack the market and develop those all-important early relationships.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Brazilian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips