Cultural Attributes

Power Distance (PDI):[1] Cordiality has been recognized as a distinguishing feature of Brazilian culture. Cordiality means affability in relationships, hospitality, generosity and desire to establish friendship and intimacy in every new relationship. It pervades hierarchical relations, which are hardly ruled by reverence rituals to superiors. Nevertheless, it does not mean that hierarchies do not play a role in Brazil. Brazil’s Iberian background needs to be considered for its influence in shaping a society prompt to recognize personal prestige and the strengths and abilities of the individual as a source of nobility and fortune, independent of inherited name.

Moreover, the “cordial man” can be seen as a representation built in Brazilian social thought and art of the first half of the 20th century. The “cordial man” expresses the challenge Brazilian society has been facing in order to overcome colonial roots and patrimonial hierarchies, and go over urbanization and industrialization with the intrinsic ethos based on work and merit. The stereotype of the “cordial man” could be seen as a way of recognizing a new order, wherein rural tradition and patrimonial hierarchies have no place anymore. Additionally, one should consider that contemporarily, as has been showing since recent riots, a new representation of national character must take place to express an urban society that clamors for a renewed democracy.

The Hofstede Centre study informs us: “With a score of 69... Brazil reflects a society that believes hierarchy should be respected and inequalities amongst people are acceptable. The different distribution of power justifies the fact that power holders have more benefits than the less powerful in society. In Brazil, it is important to show respect to the elderly (and children take care of their elderly parents). In companies, one boss takes complete responsibility. Status symbols of power are very important in order to indicate social position and ‘communicate’ the respect that could be shown.”[2]

Individualism versus collectivism (IDV):[3] Individualism and collectivism are both expressed paradoxically in Brazilian culture. In one hand, Iberian tradition sets up an individualistic attitude to leadership and the exercise of power. From the Iberian tradition, Brazil inherits the centrality of the government organization as a unifying factor. In the other hand, behavior in everyday life is more collectivist. Teamwork flows easily and individual competition is unusual. This paradoxical approach to individualism and collectivism can be better understood through an historical example. The Getulio Vargas era (1930-1945) can be taken as a paradigm to understand individualism and collectivism in Brazilian contemporary society. This period is recognized by a modernity model project to the country, based on republican principles emulated from Western Europe with implications for institutions, economy and society. Vargas’ project brought a new frame to overcome pervasive individualism during colonialist stage of the country. Nevertheless, Getulio Vargas’ project of modernization and industrialization was only able to evolve through a populist and individualistic government. Civil society institutions as unions and political parties were not strong enough to support collectivism and democratization.


The Hofstede Centre study informs us: “With a score of 38… in this country people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive groups (especially represented by the extended family; including uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins) which continues protecting its members in exchange for loyalty. This is an important aspect in the working environment too, where for instance an older and powerful member of a family is expected to “help” a younger nephew to be hired for a job in his own company. In business, it is important to build up trustworthy and long lasting relationships: a meeting usually starts with general conversations in order to get to know each other before doing business. The preferred communication style is context-rich, so people will often speak profusely and write in an elaborate fashion.”[4]

The Hofstede Centre study informs us: “…A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organizational behavior. A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine). Brazil scores 49, a very intermediate score on this dimension.”[5]

Uncertainty avoidance (UAI):
The Hofstede Centre study informs us: “At 76 Brazil scores high on UAI – and so do the majority of Latin American countries. These societies show a strong need for rules and elaborate legal systems in order to structure life. The individual’s need to obey these laws, however, is weak. If rules however cannot be kept, additional rules are dictated. In Brazil, as in all high Uncertainty Avoidance societies, bureaucracy, laws and rules are very important to make the world a safer place to live in. Brazilians need to have good and relaxing moments in their everyday life, chatting with colleagues, enjoying a long meal or dancing with guests and friends. Due to their high score in this dimension Brazilians are very passionate and demonstrative people: emotions are easily shown in their body language.”[6]

Long-term versus short-term orientation (LTO): 

The Hofstede Centre study informs us: “Normative societies who score low on this dimension, for example, prefer to maintain time-honored traditions and norms while viewing societal change with suspicion. Those with a culture, which scores high, on the other hand, take a more pragmatic approach: they encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the future. At 44, Brazil scores as intermediate in this dimension.”[7]


The Hofstede Centre study informs us: “Brazil’s high score of 59 marks it as an Indulgent society. People in societies classified by a high score in indulgence generally exhibit a willingness to realize their impulses and desires with regard to enjoying life and having fun. They possess a positive attitude and have a tendency towards optimism. In addition, they place a higher degree of importance on leisure time, act as they please and spend money as they wish.”[8]

[1] Sources: Hollanda, Sergio Buarque ([1936]2012). The Roots of Brazil. Indiana, University of Notre Dame Press.; IANNI, Octavio. (2002). Tipos e mitos do pensamento. Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais.[online], vol.17, nº.49, pp. 5-10.

[3] Sources: Hollanda, Sergio Buarque ([1936]2012). The Roots of Brazil. Indiana, University of Notre Dame Press; HERSHMANN, Micael M. e PEREIRA, Carlos Alberto M. O Imaginário Moderno no Brasil. In: A Invenção do Brasil Moderno: medicina, educação e engenharia nos anos 20-30. P.09-41. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco,1994.

[5] Idem.

[6] Idem.

[7] Idem.

[8] Idem.