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.)
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Brazil. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Brazil and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: