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Journal cover: International Journal of Emerging Markets

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Online from: 2006

Subject Area: International Business

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Structural change and the emergence of the Brazilian MNEs

Document Information:
Title:Structural change and the emergence of the Brazilian MNEs
Author(s):Glauco Arbix, (Department of Sociology, University of São Paulo Innovation at the Institute of Advanced Studies, São Paulo, Brazil)
Citation:Glauco Arbix, (2010) "Structural change and the emergence of the Brazilian MNEs", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 5 Iss: 3/4, pp.266 - 288
Keywords:Brazil, Business development, Developing countries, Innovation, Multinational companies, Organizational change
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/17468801011058389 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The author would like to thank João Alberto De Negri, Fernanda De Negri and Mario Salerno, and the valuable comments by the unknown referees. Finally, the author thanks Fulbright Foundation, FAPESP and CNPq for financial support.

Purpose – The internationalization of local Brazilian firms is a very recent phenomenon, especially when considered in terms of the accelerated growth in the number of Brazilian-owned multinational companies and the intensity of foreign investment that began in the year 2000. While the specialized literature has focused increasing attention on this new trend, the profound transformation of Brazilian production during the 1990s remains a challenging theme for researchers. This paper aims to analyze the changes undertaken by Brazilian firms in pursuit of competitiveness.

Design/methodology/approach – The data utilized were furnished by the Institute for Applied Economic Research, a governmental think tank, that has combined and expanded upon the main Brazilian databases that provide reliable information about industrial firms: the Annual Survey of Industry carried out by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE); the Annual Social Information Report, conducted by the Ministry of Labor and Employment; the Foreign Trade Secretariat, under the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, and the Industrial Survey of Technological Innovation also sponsored by the IBGE. This procedure allows to access extremely wide-ranging analyses covering businesses responsible for more than 90 percent of value added by Brazilian industry.

Findings – The principal finding of this paper indicates that enormous changes in business strategy occurred in the 1990s, modifying Brazilian companies' historical orientation towards the internal market. Significant increases in exports and outward foreign direct investment, consequently led a significant group of Brazilian companies to compete in more sophisticated markets. These new strategies of internationalization are supported by these companies' systematic pursuit of innovative processes. Aggregate data from internationalizing companies show that the most advanced group, characterized in this paper as “A-class companies,” exhibit a standard of competitiveness, salaries, investment in R&D and new product launches found only in Brazil within the local subsidiaries of foreign multinationals.

Originality/value – Various studies have attempted to capture the difficulties and barriers that the Brazilian economy faced at the beginning of economic liberalization. Despite their differences, most of the analyses are confined at the macro level and make the ease and rapid expansion of internationalizing companies a surprising observation. In contrast, this paper emphasizes microeconomic factors and argues that the changes that occurred throughout the 1990s within the structure and strategies of Brazilian businesses were for the most part overshadowed by macro visions (especially those focused on fighting inflation). To capture these changes, especially those that had an impact on improved competitiveness, a new methodological approach has been designed.

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