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.)