Americas MBA Students Talk World Cup and Brazil at Forum

Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management, the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), and Vanderbilt Law School examine issues in Brazil ahead of the World Cup.

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Vanderbilt University
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May 16, 2014

Brazil forum

Near Nashville's stadium for professional football, Vanderbilt's Americas MBA students gathered to discuss the upcoming World Cup competition in Brazil of the original football, or soccer. 

"The World Cup and the Future of Brazil" forum was held April 4 at The Bridge Building on the Cumberland River. It was part of Owen Graduate School of Management's Americas MBA program, which offers an MBA for executives who wish to work in business in one of the established or emerging economies of the Western Hemisphere. Vanderbilt Law School and Vanderbilt's Center for Latin American Studies co-sponsored the event with the Owen School. 

"At the moment, Owen has Latin fever," said M. Eric Johnson, dean of the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, Bruce D. Henderson Chair in Strategy and the Ralph Owen Chair. Students pursuing the AMBA at Owen spend part of their second year on partner campuses in Brazil (São Paulo), Canada (Vancouver) and Mexico (Mexico City.)         

The event welcomed students who arrived in town for their Nashville portion of the AMBA program, and showcased Vanderbilt's ties to business in the Americas region. It also drew a broad mix of business leaders from the Middle Tennessee region interested in expanding their businesses in the Americas. 

Attendees got a sense of the cultural differences involved in doing business in other countries, using futbol (or soccer) as a framework to illustrate how culture impacts the business world in Brazil and beyond.   

Although Brazil is suffering because of high inflation, exchange rates and interest rates, the World Cup will be a boon for it image-wise and economically, said Earl Fitz, professor of Portuguese at Vanderbilt.   

"It's a bit like the NBA finals on steroids," he said. "It's a global event watched by millions of people internationally. It's more important than even religion as a unifying force in Brazil."

"I think one of the reasons soccer is so popular all over the world is it's got a bit of democracy in it," said Luis Paulo Rosenberg, vice president of the Corinthians soccer team in Brazil and an alumnus of Vanderbilt. "Winning and losing is based on how united is the group, how comfortable they are with each other."   

Ted Fischer, Director of Vanderbilt's Center for Latin American Studies,, noted that hosting the World Cup was one of many measures of Brazil's success. He then added that the AMP mass transit system which is being considered in Nashville was developed in Brazil as well.   

The World Cup in Brazil is guaranteed to be a success, said Louis Paulo, who is also leading counsel of the Brazilian Organizing Committee of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. "Seventy-three thousand hours of TV will be shown during the World Cup," he said. "The last time, half of the world's population saw it."

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