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Why Brazil must learn to trust in collaborative innovation

Research highlights three key ways to unleash innovation opportunities.


While global innovation leaders are increasingly collaborating across firm, sector and national boundaries, Brazilian companies are surprisingly reluctant to exploit this trend. Within the backdrop of Brazil’s distressingly low ranking on key global indexes of innovation, Accenture surveyed 200 Brazilian senior executives and undertook in-depth conversations to understand their views on the role of innovation in their organizations. We reveal why Brazilian companies must learn to earn trust through planning, investment and effort, view situations from multiple perspectives and instill entirely new behaviors to drive collaborative innovation.




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Brazil’s economy is seventh in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). Yet, according to the Global Innovation Index, Brazil ranked seventieth in 2015. It fares even worse (ninety-ninth) when it comes to the Innovation Efficiency Ratio, which measures how effectively a country is able to turn innovation inputs into innovation outputs. Brazil needs to improve on these numbers quickly. Collaborative relationships present a promising solution. Innovations that are shaping today’s markets, and creating the markets of tomorrow, are increasingly the brainchild of collaborative partnerships, alliances, and other connections that cross company and country borders.



Collaboration should be even more attractive in an economy that struggles with a high cost structure, such as Brazil’s. Collaborative practices enable businesses to gain access to capabilities without having to pay for them all.

To step up their ability to engage in collaborative innovation, Brazilian businesses must first build up trust with potential partners.


Our research found:

Brazilians are natural connectors: Brazilian executives believe in the power of building and maintaining relationships across all sections of society. In our survey, Brazilian business leaders singled out “personal relationships and networks,” together with “use of social media,” as the two most important capabilities to enable growth.

Sixty percent of Brazilian respondents said personal relationships and networks are the key tools and capabilities that will drive future growth.

Brazilians lag behind on collaborative innovation: Many Brazilian companies focus their efforts in-house and seem reluctant to engage with the evolving trend to innovate collaboratively. Only 40 percent of Brazilian executives expect to grow their business in new areas through strategic alliances—the lowest level in our study. A similar proportion, also among the lowest levels reported, is willing to place its bets on joint ventures.

Brazilians must overcome an entrenched trust deficit: A survey of 2,002 people in 143 Brazilian cities by the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) showed that Brazilians have low degrees of trust and suspect that people tend to be out for their own self-interest regardless of ethical considerations. To pursue collaborative innovation, Brazilian companies must first learn how to construct and nurture relationships in which they feel that their best interests will be protected.


Brazilian executives can reverse the trust deficit by:

  • Earning trust through planning, investment and effort: Experts and practitioners we interviewed describe the long but worthwhile journey of trust-building and collaboration.
  • Viewing situations from multiple perspectives: Proactively address difficult choices and trade-offs that go hand-in-hand with the benefits of greater openness. Too many firms focus on the potential partner’s characteristics at the expense of ensuring they are an attractive partner themselves.
  • Instilling entirely new behaviors: Understand that collaboration demands investments across a wide range of new practices and behaviors. While organizational changes and hard skills are easier to identify, success requires blending these with critical soft skills.



In late 2014, Accenture conducted a study among 200 senior executives from companies in Brazil. Participants were screened based on innovation playing an important part in their company and respondents needed to have good visibility into their company’s innovation activities. The approach combined online and telephone interviews from September 30 through November 29, 2014. Data collection was handled by research company, Kadence.

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