Brazil Culture and Business Environment

This three-credit, Undergrad, MBA/PMBA course will provide students with a cross-disciplinary look at Brazil through multiple lenses including, ethics, sociology, economics, history, and politics. All of these facets will be used to understand South America's largest and most economically powerful nation. Brazil has experienced extremes in many of the facets we will explore including its history. Students will learn key insights of Brazilian history, that is quite distinct from those of its Spanish American neighbors. We will focus on a key milestone in recent Brazilian history, the emergence from a self-imposed isolation, which lasted for more than 30 years. These historical events will emphasize aspects of Brazilian economic policy including exchange and trade liberalization.

Students will also gain key insights into social and ethical issues central to the prospect of doing business in Brazil, including corporate social responsibility in Brazil. Many of the businesses that have eagerly turned to Brazil as a promising emerging market have been surprised by often confusing socio-economic and cultural conditions. This course will help students understand how to succeed amidst the unique challenges of marketing in Brazil. This includes the legal environment and how the laws affect the competitive environment. Overall, this course will cover Brazilian contemporary society by developing a cultural framework that will allow students to explore aspects of daily life in Brazil.

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, in terms of both territory and population. It is an upper middle income country, ranked as the 15th largest world economy, the largest economy in Latin America in 2003 (GDP US$492 billion, GDP per capita US$7,500). Brazil's population has more than tripled during the past 50 years. Economic reform based on new economic policy and control over inflation has brought dynamic growth. The dramatic reduction of inflation has given the middle and lower income segments more buying power than ever before, creating enormous potential growth in the consumer markets. The country's political and economic stability has been of enormous importance to a region hit by economic crisis, political and social instability and provides a rich learning environment for business students.
Brazil is the gateway to the Common Market of the South, MERCOSUL. Brazil represents 75% of Mercosur's GDP and accounted for around 1.7 % of world trade in 2002. It is the main economic player in South America, with over half of the region's GDP and population. Brazil has very divergent levels of prosperity. Whereas income per capita in São Paulo state is close to that of the Czech Republic, Maranhão's is nearer the levels of Pakistan. WTO talks have seen Brazil emerge as a leading player in the G-20 group of developing countries, with the country playing a critical role at the Cancún WTO Ministerial meeting. The current leadership role undertaken by Brazil in the social, economic and political arenas make Brazil one of the most dynamic emerging economies.

Most of the population descends from early European settlers - chiefly Portuguese, but also some Italian, French and Dutch -, African slaves, and assimilated indigenous peoples. Beginning in the late 19th century Brazil received substantial immigration from Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland, Lebanon, Syria, Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, Hungary and Armenia. Japanese are the largest Asian group in Brazil, but some Chinese and Koreans also settled Brazil. These populations and their descendants retain much of their ethnic identity but they are not closed communities and are rapidly integrating into mainstream Brazilian society.

Brazil has one of the richest natural environments in the world, yet its enormous biodiversity continues to be threatened by degradation and deforestation. Brazil's vast territory covers a great variety of land and climate. Most of Brazil's large cities are on the Atlantic coast or the banks of the great rivers, while the rain forests of the Amazon River basin occupy all the north and north central parts of Brazil. The southern part of the great central upland is cool and yields the produce of temperate lands.

The Academic Program
The academic preparation for the Brazilian cultural and economic experience will begin during the fall semester of 2010. Attendance is mandatory Sessions will be in both lecture and discussion format with assigned reading for each day. Each seminar will focus on a particular topic. Two of the sessions will be conducted with guest speakers, experts in their areas.

Students will be required to attend all seminars, complete assigned readings and to actively participate in seminar discussions. Students will also be required to maintain a journal and complete a paper on their personal observations and reflections about the Brazilian culture and business environment.

Topics from last year's Brazilian Culture and Business Seminars were:
1. Brazilian History
2. Political and Legal Systems
3. Brazilian Culture
4. Brazilian Social Movements
5. The Emerging Brazilian Economy
6. Brazilian Business Issues

Brazilian Business
During the January intersession, program participants will travel to Brazil. Accompanied by two faculty members from the Isenberg School of Management, students will be hosted by Professor Aurea Puga Ribeiro, a faculty member from Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC) ( in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. FDC is the leading center for executive development in Brazil. While at FDC students will participate in academic and corporate presentations focusing on the distinct nature of Brazilian business practices and the unique interaction of Brazilian culture, society and business. Company visits will include companies such as: Claró, the second largest wireless carrier in Brazil and a subsidiary of America Movil, Latin America's biggest mobile phone company; Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, the world's leading producer of iron ore; Petrobras, the national oil company; Natura Cosmetics, the largest cosmetic company in Brazil with over 100,000 independent sales consultants. Students will also visit many historic sites in Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro.

Belo Horizonte
Minas Gerais is one of Brazil's largest states and the home of Tiradentes, hero of the Inconfidência Mineira (The Revolution of Minas Gerais), of Aleijadinho, the sculptor; the composer Milton Nascimento; the writer Guimarães Rosa and two Brazilian presidents, Juscelino Kubitschek and Tancredo Neves. Belo Horizonte is Brazil's third largest city and the first modern Brazilian city to spring from an architect's drawing board. It was designed specifically for its role as the capital of Minas Gerais. Belo Horizonte is the center of a region with rich mineral deposits which accounts for half of Brazil's mineral production.. Belo Horizonte is also a strong manufacturing center, of steel, automobiles and textiles, as well as an agricultural processing and distribution. Belo Horizonte is also a leading cultural center, with three universities, a historical museum, numerous libraries, and sports stadiums. Minas Gerais is home to Ouro Preto, the historic gold mining city that is famous for its many churches which are perched throughout the city.

Students will also visit Rio de Janeiro which finished the 20th century as the second most industrialized State of Brazil (the position is currently being claimed by Minas Gerais). This second largest city in Brazil is still a major cultural capital and, to some extent, its "emotional" capital as well. Rio de Janeiro has a majestic beauty, with built-up areas nestled between a magnificent bay and dazzling beaches on one side and an abruptly rising mountain range, covered by a luxuriant tropical forest, on the other. This unique landscape makes Rio one of the most beautiful cities in the world, justifying its title of "Marvelous City" (Cidade Maravilhosa). Rio's cultural life is intense and varied. Economically it is a service industry center, a key financial center, and the producer of foodstuffs, building materials, electrical equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, beverages, and textiles. But it is in the pursuit of leisure that Rio is outstanding. With its world famous beaches free to all (such as Copacabana and Ipanema), its splendid bay, one of the loveliest in the world, and its wonderful climate, a blend of summer and springtime, Rio de Janeiro is a city that lives in and for the sun. Its population is around 5,750,000 inhabitants. Examples of Rio's famous modern architecture are the ministry of education, the Brazilian press association headquarters, and the museum of modern art. Older buildings house the national library, the municipal opera house, and several museums. The Itamarati Palace is also noteworthy.

The final stop will be in Sao Paulo, the largest city and largest business center in South America. São Paulo was founded by the Jesuits in 1554, on a plateau 2,493 feet (760 meters) above sea level, but only 45 miles (72 km) from the coast, as a mission center ( Patio do Colegio - as the area today is called) for early settlers and the indigenous who inhabited the area. For a long time it remained a small town. Around 1850 it began to grow and became richer thanks to the highly productive coffee plantations in the state. Later on, the income from coffee exports and the increasing population provided capital and manpower for the foundation of an industrial base. Today it is the industrial and financial center of Brasil generating over 30% of the GNP.

Program Enrollment and Fees
Students will enroll in three-credit course in the spring semester 2011. In addition to tuition, an additional program fee will be assessed to cover expenses in Brazil. The final fee will be determined once the there is sufficient enrollment. The fee for the two weeks includes airfare, double occupancy in hotels in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo, all buses for tours.

All students must fill out an application and return it to Professor Brashear Alejandro in Isenberg 218.