“As the twig is bent, so grows the tree” : A study of the influence of Swedish corporate culture in managing ethical dilemmas in Brazil
Abstract: Throughout history, the Latin American region has faced inequalities in the form of ethical issues that derive from institutional corruption, bribery and negligence. Today, the region is facing an ongoing shift in terms of emerging market potential, whilst influences from global trends are establishing roots. The developed opportunities have earned attention from foreign actors, whereas the prospect of the Brazilian market has received considerate devotion from Swedish companies, that are considering Brazil as a major entry point into the region. The historical influences in relation to cultural differences presents challenges in the management of business relations, as well as in the ethical dilemmas that may arise. The purpose of this thesis is to obtain an understanding concerning the significance within the relation between Swedish corporate culture and facing ethical dilemmas in international business, with the particular focus of the Brazilian market. This thesis is based on a qualitative study in the form of interviews with five represented Swedish companies, in order to gain deeper understanding of the complexity and intangibility behind the corporate cultural phenomenon, as well as related experiences with the concentrated market. Moreover, this study is based on a deductive research, given that the specific relation between Swedish corporate culture and managing ethical issues in Brazil is quite unexplored. Thus, it felt required to gain relevant insight prior to this research. The theoretical foundation of this thesis is based on a literature review that is divided into acknowledged concepts of internationalization, culture and business ethics. In turn, the theories discussed are relevant to establish a connection in the form of a synthesis that makes sense of the complexity and intangibility that is surrounding the topic of ethical dilemmas, due to differentiating cultural influences on the notion of business ethics and its implementation. The literature review has in turn acted as substance in the analyzing of the presented empirical data gathered through interviews, where the empirical findings are first displayed case by case and followed by a cross-case analysis. The outcome of this research argues that the corporate cultural values have a significant role in the way Swedish companies can use ethics as a notion of simultaneously shaping the outside perceptions, based on inside operations. Networks are further emphasized as an aspect of transition in the relation between Swedish companies and the Brazilian market, where dilemmas occur when disturbed by differentiating cultural influences. In terms of profitability and long-term sustainability, the extent of implementation where ethical values go, can act as a reinforced tool in terms of creating attractive visibility on the international market.
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