MNCs and micro-entrepreneurship in emerging economies: The case of Avon in the Amazon


Chelekis, Jessica, and Susan M. Mudambi. 2010. “MNCs and Micro-Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies: The Case of Avon in the Amazon.” Journal of International Management 16 (4): 412–24.

Authors: Jessica Chelekis, Susan M. Mudambi


This article examines the activities of multinational corporations (MNCs) in the direct sales industry through an ethnographic case study of micro-entrepreneurship in the Brazilian Amazon. In large emerging economies, intra-country heterogeneity poses challenges for MNCs. Because national trends often obscure regional variations, the case study highlights the realities of the rural Amazon, and the specific challenges and potential for MNCs. Findings from the case study support three propositions. The development of direct sales networks in remote areas facilitates: (1) additional entrepreneurship, and encourages a progression from necessity to opportunity entrepreneurship; (2) social change in gender norms, including higher level of female empowerment and decision-making within families and communities; and (3) a reconciliation of local and global values on beauty and fashion for customers, leading to stronger brand relationships. By leveraging micro-entrepreneurship, MNCs can compete with local firms, even in rural areas lacking basic infrastructure, to the benefit of communities and individuals.

Keywords: Emerging economies, entrepreneurship, ethnography, direct selling, gender, Base of the pyramid

Topics: Economies, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Brazil

Year: 2009

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