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Posted by Bob Smith on December 25, 2001 at 01:23:23:
In Reply to: Brazil1 posted by Bob Smith on December 25, 2001 at 01:17:52:
Apparently, these private firms, fed up with what they perceived as favoritism, carried out a coup d’etat of CITS during the elections in September of 2000, removing the president of the organization from power. Some claim that this takeover was engineered unfairly. Since then, the Secretary of Science and Technology, who was allied with the former president of CITS, withdrew his support for the center. The Secretary, also president of the government institute, Tecpar, then extracted an important development program from CITS and transplanted it inside Tecpar. The former president was also relocated to a position at Tecpar. As a result of these transitions, the executives of a number of software firms in the cluster who represent CITS are at odds with the leaders of Tecpar. The two sides do not communicate much. Many firms, including members of both sides of the dispute have recognized that this dispute between CITS and Tecpar has been detrimental to the productivity of the software sector. One official commented, “[The dispute] is not affecting individual firms but it is affecting the region’s productivity.” This division demonstrates well the lack of trust between members of the Curitiba software cluster.
The second key piece of evidence is a joke told by Curitibanos which pokes fun at their culture. It was recited on a number of occasions when executives were asked why the spirit of collaboration in Curitiba was so weak. Here is one way the joke can be told, although other versions do exist:
In Brazilian hell, there are three pits where the condemned labor in the fiery heat. There is one for the Cariocas - those from Rio de Janeiro. There is one for the Paulistas - those from São Paulo. And there is one for the Paranáenses - those from the state of Paraná-home of Curitiba. The pit for the Cariocas is surrounded by guards to prevent them from escaping. The Cariocas do not like it there but it is not so bad because they are used to the heat. The pit for the Paulistas is also surrounded by guards. But they are not too unhappy. Since they are from São Paulo, they are used to the hard labor. The pit for the Paranáenses is different. They dislike hell just as much as the others but there are no guards surrounding the edge. Why is this? Because no guards are needed. Whenever one tries to climb out of the pit and escape, the others pull him back down.
The joke demonstrates perfectly Curitiba’s problem with its business environment. Interchange is poor because the culture of Curitiba renders firms extremely self-interested and untrustworthy. Perhaps this is why loyalty is such a prized quality; it is just so rare to see. Some executives mentioned that it is because of this failure to collaborate that the state of Paraná has never produced a president of Brazil. The region has simply never been able to unite itself behind one candidate. As one can imagine, interchange is hindered in this business climate creating a clear barrier to competitiveness.
What can be done about Curitiba’s issue of interchange? As mentioned earlier, it is quite a difficult problem to solve. Essentially, trust must be built up among members of the cluster. Personal relationships must be further developed so that firms feel comfortable enough to rely on each other and exchange valuable information. The social arm of the Curitba IT cluster must be strengthened. Michael Porter reiterates this point and offers a number of channels through which interchange may be strengthened.:
Mechanisms that facilitate interchange within clusters are conditions that help information to flow more easily, or which unblock information as well as facilitate coordination by creating trust and mitigating perceived differences in economic interest between vertically or horizontally linked firms. Some examples are the following:
Facilitators of Information Flow:
-Personal relationships due to schooling, military service
-Ties through the scientific community
-Community ties due to geographic proximity
-Trade associations encompassing clusters
-Norms of behavior such as a belief in continuity and long-term relationships5
The process of improving intra-cluster interchange is a difficult task and will not occur overnight. Acknowledging that there is an area of the cluster in which great improvement can be made is a great start, however. But if Curitiba seriously intends to be a beacon of technological development to the rest of Latin America, the issue of interchange must now be confronted.