The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations
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The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations

Unity and Diversity

Edited by Bruce E. Kaufman

This volume contains country studies of the historical development of human resource management (HRM) in seventeen different nations. The nations span all regions of the world and each chapter is written by a national expert. Primary attention is given to HRM developments in industry, but university research and teaching are also covered. Human resource management is defined broadly to include industrial relations and each chapter places the historical development of HRM in a broad political, social, and economic context.
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Chapter 4: The historical evolution of human resource management in Brazil

Zilá Guimarães Horta


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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