Unity and Diversity
Edited by Bruce E. Kaufman
Chapter 4: The historical evolution of human resource management in Brazil
Over the last two decades Brazil has grown faster than most developing countries and today has a middle-level economy in terms of industrial composition and standard of living. Many observers think Brazil is particularly well situated to continue its strong growth performance. Brazil also faces significant challenges, however: the country has, for example, a pronounced dualistic core-periphery economic structure, highly unequal income and wealth distribution, and strongly segmented social hierarchy. Within this macro-social context, another distinct challenge is continuously upgrading Brazil’s business organizations, executive and management capabilities, and the knowledge, skills and utilization of the workforce. Here enters the subject of human resource management (HRM) and the focus of this chapter. In particular, Brazil’s transformation from a 19th century Portuguese colony and exporter of natural resource-based products to an early 21st century urban-based society exporting a range of high-tech goods and services has required a similar transformation in the nation’s business organizations and philosophy, strategy, and practice of human resource management. In this chapter I tell the story of HRM’s historical development and current position in Brazil – the first time it has been researched and written up as far as I know. HRM in Brazil cannot be adequately understood, however, without keeping close connection to important complementary institutions, such as trade unions and labor law, and the larger social, political and economic context.
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