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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Management

Year Degree Awarded

2014

First Advisor

Marta B. Calas

Subject Categories

International Business

Abstract

The early 21st century has witnessed the beginnings of change in the dominant patterns of global trade. For instance, the nations known as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have intensified the coordination of their economic, political and social agendas, including increased trade among their own firms. To date, however, scholarship in organization studies has yet to examine the theoretical and empirical implications for international management of these integrative processes. Intending to close some of this gap, the dissertation explores the formation of new transnational business relationships between firms of two BRICS members, Brazil and China.

Building on institutional theorizing, in particular the Varieties of Capitalism literature, I focus first on the organizational implications of growing Chinese commercial presence in Brazil taking into consideration the historical development of organizing practices in each country. I examine the emergence of organizational practices used to manage new Sino-Brazilian relationships using a narrative approach to data collected through interviews with industry participants, company visits, and fieldwork at trade events. Through critical discourse analysis, I also examine sensemaking processes about these activities by a variety of social actors in Brazil. The analyses paint a dynamic landscape in which new proto-institutions might be emerging as organizational activities between both countries progress. Nonetheless, generalized images of new partnerships between China and Brazil, and their impact on Brazil’s economy, are still subject to considerable debate, which might restrain their legitimization.

Focusing both on micro practices for establishing transnational organizational collaborations and the macro contexts in which these take place, the dissertation contributes to international management scholarship by expanding understanding of ways collaborations may lead toward the adaptation of extant forms of governance while maintaining allegiance to historical institutional patterns. This focus may also serve as a stepping-stone in understanding the potential integration/disintegration of novel trade “blocs” which depart from traditional geographical and historical relationships. Finally, given the lack of organizational research on Latin America relative to its importance in the world economy, this project also furthers understanding of transnational organizing in the region as its firms adapt to growing global competition.

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