The World Cup host country is the most populous nation in South America, and it is very diverse. It is important to realize that not every Brazilian is of the same culture and that many subcultures and other national cultures exist in Brazil, such as German, Japanese, and native tribal cultures. However generally, in Brazil, punctuality is unimportant and like other cultures of South America, Brazilians communicate in close proximity and it is typical for a Brazilian to initiate physical contact while speaking to you. The “okay” sign, where the index and thumb create a circle, is considered offensive and the equivalent of holding up the middle finger in the U.S. In Brazil, be careful not to refer to people as Hispanics, because most Brazilians are of Portuguese or native decent. To gesture good luck, they place their thumb between their middle and index finger and make a fist, called the “figa”.
Brazilians have a relatively high uncertainty avoidance, this means they have higher anxiety and stress. They have an inner urge to both work hard and to follow laws/rules. In Brazil, as in all high Uncertainty Avoidance societies, bureaucracy, laws and rules are very important to make the world a safer place to live in. Brazilians need to have good and relaxing moments in their everyday life, chatting with colleagues, enjoying a long meal or dancing with guests and friends. Due to their high score in this dimension Brazilians are very passionate and demonstrative people: emotions are easily shown in their body language.
With a power distance score of 69, Brazil reflects a society that believes hierarchy should be respected and inequalities amongst people are acceptable. The different distribution of power justifies the fact that power holders have more benefits than the less powerful in society. In Brazil it is important to show respect to the elderly (and children take care for their elderly parents). In companies there is one boss who takes complete responsibility. Status symbols of power are very important in order to indicate social position and “communicate” the respect that could be shown.
Brazil has an individualism score of 38, which means that in this country people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive groups (especially represented by the extended family; including uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins) which continues protecting its members in exchange for loyalty. This is an important aspect in the working environment too, where for instance an older and powerful member of a family is expected to “help” a younger nephew to be hired for a job in his own company. In business it is important to build up trustworthy and long lasting relationships: a meeting usually starts with general conversations in order to get to know each other before doing business. The preferred communication style is context-rich, so people will often speak profusely and write in an elaborate fashion.
The breakup of the former nation of Yugoslavia makes the Balkan region somewhat culturally similar. Many of these cultural outliers are the same throughout the region, but not always. In many of the nations including Croatia, the Brazilian “figa” sign would be considered offensive. Smiling is not typical in greeting and is considered strange. Eye contact is very direct, and is meant as a sign of respect. It is typical for familiar people regardless of gender, to link arms when walking. In public, Croatians remain quiet and respectful; loud and aggressive behavior is seen as rude and unacceptable.
Croatia scores 40 on the masculinity dimension and is thus considered a relatively feminine society. In feminine countries the focus is on “working in order to live”, managers strive for consensus, people value equality, solidarity and quality in their working lives. Conflicts are resolved by compromise and negotiation. Incentives such as free time and flexibility are favored. Focus is on well-being, status is not shown.
Croatia’s low score of 33 in the indulgence dimension marks it as a restrained country. Societies with a low score in this dimension have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism. Also, in contrast to indulgent societies, restrained societies do not put much emphasis on leisure time and control the gratification of their desires. People with this orientation have the perception that their actions are restrained by social norms and feel that indulging themselves is somewhat wrong.
While Mexico is the closest truly foreign culture for many U.S. Americans to experience, many Americans tend to underestimate the vast cultural differences of the two countries – mainly because tourist experiences are equated to the rest of the country. Much like many Latin-American nations, Mexicans typically stand close to others when conversing. It is considered rude to stand with your hands on your hips, or with your hands in pockets. Being thirty minutes late is still considered punctual by Mexican standards, however, it is expected of foreigners to be on time.
At a score of 81, Mexico is a hierarchical society. This means that people accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification. Hierarchy in an organization is seen as reflecting inherent inequalities, centralization is popular, subordinates expect to be told what to do and the ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat.
With a very high score of 97, Mexican culture has a definite tendency toward indulgence. People in societies classified by a high score in indulgence generally exhibit a willingness to realize their impulses and desires with regard to enjoying life and having fun. They possess a positive attitude and have a tendency towards optimism. In addition, they place a higher degree of importance on leisure time, act as they please and spend money as they wish.
Cameroon is a Western African country with a very high degree of diversity, ethnically and religiously. Due to its volatile colonial past, Cameroon can be loosely described as having a Francophone (South) and an Anglophone (North) part.
Society is very hierarchical and collectivist in Cameroon, always greet elders first and show respect. When greeting someone superior, men always keep their head low and avert their eyes. Like many cultures, beware of using your left hand when giving gifts or shaking hands. Meeting are not as private as in other cultures, interruptions may happen and people may walk in and out regardless of the seriousness of the meeting.
To learn more about the other 28 cultures represented at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, go back to the main article on this topic.