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Brazil And Brazilian Jeitinho

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Brazil and the Brazilian Jeitinho

As a Means of Social Navigation

Wheaton College Graduate School

Luis Fernando Velasco


Located in the South America and with more than 8 million of square kilometers of territorial extension, Brazil is the biggest country of the sub continent and the fifth of the planet, losing position only for Russia, Canada, China and United States. Brazil has about 190 million of habitants (IBGE, 2010) and runs the largests economy in the Latin America. Supporting a GDP of 2,3 billion of dollars (CIA World Factbook, 2010), Brazil occupy the 7th place as a strong economy, together with the paradox position of 84th as an IDH (PNUD, 2011). Which reflects its several socioeconomic problems among corruption and social inequality, some of the historical problems of the nation.

Brazil is this spontaneous, joyful and hospitable people. One of its marks is its creativity, innovation and capacity of adaptation. Nothing could better explain Brazil beyond representing it as the "Soccer Country", the sport that requires flexibility, innovation and tons of creativity.

The NBI (National Brands Index) from the consultant Simon Anholt presents an international research where he analyses, through several lenses, the image that one nation has about the other nation. In the last edition (2009) Brazil is seen by the other nations as a welcoming and plenty of natural beauties country. However, its image becomes scratched when the matter is honesty, international responsibility, security and environmental preoccupation. Who wins in these attributes are Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and Norway. When the issue is natural beauty and hospitality, Brazil occupies the 7th place and the 11th place, respectively. It’s indicated as one of the most welcoming and sought out places for tourism comparing among 35 analyzed countries. Although, when the issue is honesty, international responsibility, security and environmental preoccupation, the first places belong to Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and Norway while Brazil falls down to the 24th place.

The International Transparency, a non-government global organization, defines corruption as "the abuse of the public or private position with the purpose of gaining personal advantage". The personal, governmental or international corruption brings countless damages to the society compromising the democracy, the credibility of the institutions, and affecting the commercial relations. It generates an environment of disbelief, insecurity and consequently, difficulties for new investments.

Currently, Brazil has been putting efforts to adapt itself to these new international requirements, considering the worldwide perception of the level of corruption in its institutions. Today, Brazil occupies the 69th position in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI, 2012) in a universe of 180 participants. It's a very compromising position for a Country that wants to raise higher flights and show a consistent economic development.

This present study will be focused in a very special characteristic of the Brazilian culture. This is the "Brazilian Jeitinho". Hopefully, it will help understand some reasons the corruption and the dishonesty achieves prevalent proportions in the earth of samba and soccer.

Definitions of the Jeitinho

These are very common situations for a Brazilian citizen routine:

Situation one: Carol goes to the bank to pay a bill and notices a long line. She meets a friend in the line by chance and asks him to pay the bill giving her the money, and thus does not have to wait in the queue.

Situation two: Paul ask for the taxi driver to give him a receipt with a bigger amount than he actually needs to pay, because this manner, he could receive an extra amount of money from the company when it pays for his taxi ride.

Situation three: Ms. Teresa catches a busy bus and can't find an available place to sit. Then she pretends her bag is very heavy until the one person offers her the seat.

Situation four: The policeman stops Marcos and, looking through his documents, notices they're expired. Before Marcos gets a ticket because his infraction, he calls his uncle to help them to not get a fine. His uncle is also a sergeant policeman.

Situation five: Lucia went to the shopping mall to a very quickly shop, since the parking lot is full, she stops in the space for the handicapped

How could we describe these situations? As corruption, as lying, as dishonesty, as a favor or as a "jeitinho"?

Brazilian Jeitinho (it is pronounced jay-tchee-nyoo and means literally “little way”) is a “special way to solve a problem, or a difficult or prohibited situation; or else, a creative solution for some emergencies, whether in a form of conciliation, cunningness, or skill" (p. 41; Barbosa, 2006). Again, "Jeitinho is an innovative problem-solving strategy in which the individual uses social influence combined with some tricks to achieve goals, despite the fact that it, sometimes, breaks the formal rules and harm others" (Pilati, Milfont, Ferreira, Porto, Fisher, 2011).

It's very important that Brazilians be nice, pleasant and a cordial person. But more than that, you need also to be smart to survive in the "jungle" of the society. Brazilian businessmen are internationally recognized as innovative and creative. They know how to improvise and think of several solutions to a problem. They're flexible and have good abilities to face the demands of a globalized economy. Those characteristics are necessary to succeed in the market place today. According to a new study by IBM (as cited in Carr, 2010), the CEOs believe that creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business, even more than integrity and global thinking.

However, if we continue the progression on this scale, we're going to see behaviors such as lying to justify a failure or obtain something; or maybe omit some info that may find harmful. So, what are the boundaries between creativity and integrity? Evidence suggests that creativity fosters unethical behaviors increasing the individual's ability to justify himself (Gino & Ariely, 2011).

The conclusion seems obvious, being "creative" in order to hide an error, and escape from its consequences is a mistake as old as the human race. But, let's focus on the Brazilian Jeitinho in order to understand it and how it works.



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