This thesis reveals the importance and increasing focus on cultural understanding and adaptation in Norwegian companies being established in Brazil. A few Norwegian companies entered some sectors of the Brazilian market during the eighties, but the vast majority of Norwegian businesses now operating in Brazil have entered the country during the last decade. Labor intensive and knowledge based operations are more complex to perform than the trade of coffee and codfish, and the rapid growth of Norwegian investments in Brazil creates a demand for understanding the Brazilian business and work culture.
The study reveals that although comparative research on Brazilian and Norwegian organizational cultures is limited, important differences are indicated by existing cross-cultural theories and anthropological studies. But although existing cross-cultural research provides a relevant framework for analyzing differences in Brazilian and Norwegian organizational cultures, this study argues that other concepts more accurately captures the essence of such differences. The thesis reveals that the Brazilian organizational model is built on control while the Norwegian model is trust based, and argues that a strong tendency of personalism in Brazil makes cultural adaptation all the more relevant. Also, Brazilians relate to individual situations and the present while Norwegians relate to systems and the future. These differences result in different approaches to management and problem solving.
Both challenges and opportunities related to these differences are revealed. From a Norwegian perspective the hierarchic and control based structure leads to a perceived lack of independence among Brazilian employees, and locating the relevant contacts in partner organizations is considered difficult. A lacking focus on planning and punctuality in Brazil is also revealed as a challenge. The interviews reveal that the main challenge for Norwegian companies in Brazil is a different relation to information and communication, and that communication problems can result in serious difficulties. On the other hand, the interviews indicate that values such as enthusiasm, dynamism, persistence, flexibility and creativity are associated with Brazilian organizational culture and present great opportunities for Norwegian businesses in Brazil. Norwegian companies adapt to the Brazilian business and work environment by partly adopting some Brazilian customs and tendencies while compensating for others.