Brazil’s international imperative

To succeed in an era of global, digitally enabled business, Brazil’s executives must adjust to the new realities of competition.


Brazil’s current crop of multinationals grew in an era of relatively protected domestic markets and before the acceleration in globalization and technology diffusion. Today, Brazil’s next wave of internationalizers face a dramatically different global landscape of opportunities and challenges. Yet attitudes and behaviors have been slow to change, resulting in the loss of important ground to competitors abroad.

Driven by improvements in technology and freer cross-border trade and investment, Brazilian companies now face the challenge of how to effectively build and maintain international operating models in a highly complex environment.

Our research uncovers:

  • Four conventionally accepted truths as myths that must be dispelled to facilitate improvements in the global competitiveness of Brazil’s firms. At their core, the persistence of these myths is due to an attachment to outdated mindsets that must be fundamentally questioned and updated. We show how some progressive Brazilian firms are succeeding to achieve just that.

  • Why Brazilian companies are ill-prepared to enter into or execute internationalization strategies. We offer actionable insights on the way ahead, based on primary research across Brazil’s successful and unsuccessful internationalisers.

Perceptions and Realities

Yesterday’s truths, today’s realities: A new global mindset for Brazilian business

Firms in Brazil find themselves in a far more open and globally connected domestic market where they are increasingly competing with foreign companies both at home and abroad. Their foreign competitors have access to a broad range of strengths, from low-cost business models to strong global brands. This requires Brazilian companies to attain a greater degree of global competitiveness at a much earlier stage of their development than in the past. Research by the Accenture Institute for High Performance (2013) shows not only increasing investment plans from foreign firms into Brazil, but also a clear intent from foreign companies, particularly from Asia, to take on Brazilian companies more directly.

Perceptions and realities

In the course of our research, we uncovered four perceptions about international expansion that have become outdated. Most of these perceptions are grounded in the experience of Brazil’s multinationals. But fresh thinking is required for the future.

To succeed in an era of global, digitally enabled business, Brazil’s executives must shed no-longer-valid perceptions and adjust to the new realities of competition.

  1. Perception: Domestic scale and dominance are a prerequisite to international success.
    Reality: Increasingly, international expansion will be needed to achieve or maintain domestic scale.

  2. Perception: Domestic success leads to regional success, and regional success is a platform for global success.
    Reality: High performers seek out the best opportunities, not just in their backyard but wherever they may lie.

  3. Perception: Government support is a condition for Brazil’s international success.
    Reality: Brazilian firms will increasingly need to seek alternative sources of funding.

  4. Perception: Growing and managing international operations is excessively complex and difficult.
    Reality: New-generation technologies and operating models make international operations more manageable than ever.



Brazil Unleashed

Lessons in building world-class international operations

In an effort to understand more about how to overcome the barriers to the emergence of Brazilian multinationals, the Accenture Institute for High Performance conducted extensive research across more than 100 Brazilian multinationals and aspiring multinationals.

The research found that fewer than one in five of these companies (18 percent) are confident that they have the full set of operational capabilities required to execute their internationalization strategy.

This study revealed six key areas of focus where Brazil’s burgeoning multinationals (MNCs) can learn from their successful counterparts.

  1. Balancing global and local imperatives. Executives must evaluate every business activity for opportunities to improve both global efficiency and local responsiveness.

  2. Aligning mindsets with ambitions. To effectively operate a global business, executives must develop a global mindset.

  3. Developing global models for global talent. Optimizing recruitment, skills development and talent retention is a critical element of success in any globalization strategy.

  4. Investing in process performance measurement. Process performance management using advanced analytical techniques helps executives measure, evaluate and predict performance and enhance workforce productivity.

  5. Nurturing the nervous system. An integrated information technology infrastructure is critical to allowing people, processes and structures to operate effectively across a global organization.

  6. Fostering resilience through dynamism. Organizations must develop dynamic operating models, investing in mechanisms that enable them to effectively mobilize people, funds and ideas across countries and business units.



View research highlights

Read the Estado de Sao Paulo article: Múltis nacionais não têm marca forte

Brazil’s Global Growth

Brazil’s Global Growth Imperative: The challenge of internationalization

Following decades of struggle, Brazil’s emergence onto the global stage has been astounding both in terms of its timing and its impact. However, Brazil’s strong performance over the past decade has not concealed the economy’s structural shortcomings, which pose a threat to long-term growth and global competitiveness.

Crucially, going global is no longer only a bid to grow new markets. It is increasingly about achieving competitiveness. Our research highlights how Brazilian companies are facing intense and direct global competition, especially from dynamic emerging markets. Brazilian firms have the opportunity to access skills, technology and resources from around the world to improve their competitiveness. These capabilities are essential to survive and thrive in the domestic market, as well as acting as a springboard to operate more actively across global markets.

So what concrete steps can Brazilian firms take? 

There is no one roadmap to international success, but all firms choosing the global route will need to ask themselves fundamental questions, such as:

  • How to evaluate which markets to enter, when, and the method of entry.

  • How to design an international operating model that aligns the firm’s strategy with its global model of governance.

  • How to maintain the agility and flexibility to respond to continual change in the business environment, technology and competition.



"Brazil’s strong performance over the past decade has not concealed the economy’s structural shortcomings, which pose a threat to long-term growth and global competitiveness."

About the Institute

The Accenture Institute for High Performance develops and publishes practical insights into critical management issues and global economic trends. Its worldwide team of researchers connects with Accenture’s business leaders to demonstrate how organizations become and remain high performers through original, rigorous research and analysis.

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Armen Ovanessoff
Thought Leadership Research Principal Director


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Eduardo Plastino
Thought Leadership Research Manager


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Athena Peppes
Thought Leadership Research Manager



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