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Revista Psicologia Organizações e Trabalho

versão On-line ISSN 1984-6657

Rev. Psicol., Organ. Trab. vol.13 no.1 Florianópolis abr. 2013


Prejudice, discrimination, luso-tropicalism, lusophony, and organizational justice in Portugal, from the point of view of brazilian immigrants1


Preconceito, discriminação, luso-tropicalismo, lusofonia e justiça organizacional em Portugal, do ponto de vista de imigrantes brasileiros



Leonardo Blanco dos Santos

Universidade de Coimbra

Endereço para correspondência




Although immigrants report suffering experiences of discrimination in Europe, in Portugal the social representations of luso-tropicalism and lusophony could serve to weaken prejudice and discrimination against them. This study investigates what Brazilians who work in Portugal say about luso-tropicalism, lusophony, and organizational justice. The exploratory study is based on 33 semi-structured interviews; content analysis is done and the differences in the answers given, by sex, hierarchical level, and educational level, are checked using the Mann-Whitney test. Ingroup favouritism and outgroup devaluation are observed. The contribution of the social representations of luso-tropicalism and lusophony in weakening prejudice and discrimination against Brazilians in Portugal is not verified in Portuguese general society nor in the Portuguese labour market, yet a different situation is observed within organizations, where participants report being treated relatively fairly.

Keywords: Luso-Tropicalism, Lusophony, Intergroup Relations, Organizational Justice.


Embora imigrantes relatam sofrer experiências de discriminação na Europa, em Portugal, as representações sociais de luso-tropicalismo e lusofonia poderiam contribuir para enfraquecer o preconceito e a discriminação contra imigrantes. O estudo investiga o que brasileiros que trabalham em Portugal falam sobre luso-tropicalismo, lusofonia e justiça organizacional. O estudo exploratório é baseado em 33 entrevistas semi-estruturadas, análise de conteúdo é realizada e as diferenças de respostas entre sexo, nível hierárquico e educacional são conferidas pelo teste de Mann-Whitney. Favoritismo do endogrupo e desvalorização do exogrupo são observados. A contribuição das representações sociais de luso-tropicalismo e lusofonia para enfraquecer o preconceito e a discriminação contra brasileiros em Portugal não é verificada na sociedade portuguesa em geral nem no mercado de trabalho, mas o mesmo não acontece nas organizações, onde os participantes relatam serem tratados relativamente com justiça.

Palavras-chave: Luso-Tropicalismo, Lusofonia, Relações Intergrupais, Justiça Organizacional.



In the past decade, Europe received more immigrants than the United States of America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand combined (Zick, Pettigrew & Wagner, 2008). Focusing on Portugal, we observe changes in its immigration flows: the Portuguese have not stopped emigrating, but the country has become characterized by an immigration process (Cruz, 2006; European Commission [EC], 2004; Rothermund, 2011; Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras [SEF], 2012; Vala, Lopes & Lima, 2008). Brazilians represent the largest community of immigrants in Portugal, followed by Ukrainians, Cape Verdeans, Romanians, Angolans, and Guineans (SEF, 2012).

Immigrants relate experiences of prejudice and discrimination in Europe, even though Europeans recognize racism and xenophobia as anti-normative and even illegal (Deschamps, Vala, Marinho, Costa-Lopes & Cabecinhas, 2005; EC, 2006; Vala et al., 2003; Zick et al., 2008). Local citizens may see immigrants as an economic threat: If employed, they are occupying the place of a European; and, if unemployed, they represent a social cost and/or risk (Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995; Rothermund, 2011; Vala et al., 2003).

To the extent that Europe is currently facing a serious financial and economic crisis with high unemployment rates, not only in Portugal but also in many European countries, debate about the presence of immigrants in Europe is momentous. We investigate how Brazilians who live in Portugal describe their own group and the Portuguese, whether they report experiences of discrimination in Portugal and specifically in its labour market, and what they say about organizational justice.

Prejudice and discrimination against immigrants

In order to understand discrimination against immigrants, we chose the social categorization and the social identity theories (Tajfel, 1978a, 1978b, 1984; Turner, 1978).

Social categorization is a cognitive process by which people are combined in groups through the perception of similarities and differences between them. In this process, the differences between two groups and the similarities inside the same group are highlighted (Chryssochoou, 2004; Tajfel, 1984; Turner, 1978; Valentim, 2008). Based on this reasoning, Valentim (2008, p. 112) states that "the mere existence of social categorization in terms of ingroup and outgroup is enough to cause discriminatory behaviours between groups to emerge."

Social identity is the part of an individual's self-concept deriving from his/her membership in a social group (Tajfel, 1978a, 1978b, 1984). When boundaries in terms of "who we are" (ingroup) and "who they are" (outgroup) are established, value and emotional significance are attached to this belonging. Furthermore, when people identify themselves with a group, they attempt to evaluate themselves positively and to distinguish themselves from others, attributing higher status to their group and devaluating other groups (Tajfel, 1984; Turner, 1978).

Tajfel (1978b) and Chryssochoou (2004) explain social identity as an intervening mechanism in situations of social change: When groups observe, anticipate, and fear changes, social identity arises in a more salient manner. Considering the increasing unemployment rates in Portugal, and the numerous presence of Brazilians there (SEF, 2012), we wondered if the differences between Brazilians and Portuguese were becoming more prominent.

If, on the one hand, the social categorization and social identity theories help us to understand prejudice and discrimination toward Brazilians in Portugal, on the other hand, two characteristics of the Portuguese national character could change these dynamics: luso-tropicalism and lusophony.

Luso-tropicalism and lusophony

The idea of luso-tropicalism was first presented in 1933 by the Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre, in order to explain the racial democracy in Brazil, which would be possible due to miscegenation and to the social plasticity of the Portuguese (Freyre, 2005).

Luso-tropicalism would be "a supposed special attitude of the Portuguese to biological and cultural miscegenation with people from the tropics, which would lead to the creation of something new and specific: multiracial and harmoniously integrated societies." (Valentim, 2003, p. 75). After the end of World War II, with the creation of the United Nations Organization (UNO) and international pressure for the independence of Portuguese colonies in Africa, Salazar's dictatorial regime made a selective appropriation of the concept of luso-tropicalism, emphasizing the traditional absence of racism among the Portuguese, and their peaceful coexistence with people from the colonies (Rothermund, 2011; Valentim, 2003). The idea of luso-tropicalism, widely propagated in Portugal, is considered a mandatory topic when studying the relationship between the Portuguese and people from other nations (Valentim, 2011).

In addition, the social representation of lusophony refers to "the role attributed to Portugal in the project of building a lusophone community, guided by the fraternity and affinity between people linked by a common history and language." (Valentim, 2003, p. 90). In 1996, a community of countries, where Portuguese is the official language, is founded (Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa - CPLP), including Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Rothermund (2011) highlights the solidarity within the lusophone community.

Prompted by these ideas, we wondered if Brazilians would report equitable treatment when looking for a job in Portugal.

Labour market opportunities

While the majority of Brazilians who immigrate to Portugal are qualified professionals, they find only low-skilled jobs there, mainly in construction and restaurants (Bógus, 2007; Maciel, Mendes & Santos, 2011; Pires, 2002).

Pires (2006) observes that precariousness, informality, weird and extended work schedules, jobs with low wages and with low status arose in Portugal and that, as these jobs do not attract Portuguese citizens, they require an immigrant workforce. Furthermore, Machado (2004) relates that immigrants who are not legally employed receive lower wages than do Portuguese citizens, and are easily exploited.

Moreover, universities and professional orders, responsible for validating diplomas and regulating professional practice, work in a provincial way and demonstrate corporative resistance (Pires, 2006). Góis and Marques (2007) list some of the difficulties Brazilians face in having their professional credentials recognized in Portugal: bureaucracy; corporatism of professional orders in favour of Portuguese citizens; and a lack of information offered by Portuguese public officials, highlighting difficulties in obtaining statistical data on the subject nonetheless (Góis & Marques, 2007).

All the same, we propose to analyse not only what Brazilians say about the Portuguese labour market but also about organizational justice.

Organizational justice

Although many studies have demonstrated positive outcomes in the perception of organizational justice (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter & Ng, 2001; Valentim & Helkman, 2011; Whitman, Caleo, Carpenter, Horner & Bernerth, 2012), there is no agreement about the number of dimensions that compose this construct (Blader & Tyler, 2003; Valentim & Helkama, 2011). While some authors defend the existence of three dimensions, namely, distributive, procedural, and interactional justice (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Karriker & Williams, 2009; Siqueira & Gomide Jr., 2004; Whitman et al., 2012), others favour four dimensions, by splitting interactional justice into two other types of justice: informational and interpersonal (Colquitt et al., 2001; Greenberg, 1993; Hefferman & Dundon, 2012; Scott, Colquit & Paddock, 2009).

Distributive justice is defined as the perceived fairness of outcomes (Adams, 1965; Blader & Tyler, 2003; Karriker & Williams, 2009; Scott et al., 2009; Tyler, 2000, Valentim & Helkama, 2011). In the organizational context, Siqueira and Gomide Jr. (2004) explain distributive justice as the employee's belief that the rewards that he/she receives are fair when compared to the effort that he/she expends at his/her work.

Thibaut and Walker (1975), studying the perception of fairness of decisions in the juridical context, found that people attribute importance not only to the decision per se, but also to how fairly it is made. People would perceive a decision as fair when they have a voice in the decision-making process. Leventhal (1980) adds other components by which a decision making process would be considered fair: consistency (across employees and time), bias suppression (neutrality), accuracy (search for information to form the decision), correctability (possibility of review and correction, if the decision was wrong), representativeness (taking into account the concerns of relevant groups) and ethicality (ethical and moral standards boards). Tyler (2000) presents another procedural justice component structure, composed of opportunities for participation (voice), neutrality, trustworthiness of authority, and degree to which people are treated with dignity and respect.

The concept of interactional justice was first introduced by Bies and Moag (1986). These authors asked people to list unfair behaviours that others had demonstrated, and they discovered that most of the answers were related to being treated with consideration and politeness. Blader and Tyler (2003) define interactional justice as the quality of treatment experienced by individuals in their interpersonal interactions with authorities.

As we have mentioned, some authors split interactional justice into two other dimensions. Interpersonal justice relates to treating employees with respect, dignity, and sincerity; and refraining from improper or prejudicial statements when interacting with employees. Finally, informational justice would be related to the way decisions are communicated - they should be fully explained, candid, and honest (Bies & Moag, 1986; Colquitt, 2001; Greenberg, 1993).

In this paper, instead of pre-emptively adopting a structure of three or four dimensions, we decided to explore the dimensions of organizational justice that emerge from the participants' speech.



The study, exploratory in nature, was conducted using a non-random convenient sample composed of 33 Brazilians who work in the tertiary sector in the cities of Coimbra, Lourinhã, and Pombal (Portugal). All participants work with at least one Portuguese citizen. 39.39% of the participants are men and 60.61%, women; 75.76%, subordinates and 24.24%, bosses. Regarding educational level, 57.58% of the participants have completed high school and 42.42% are college graduates. The participants work in sales (shops, real estate agencies, telecommunications, and tourism), restaurants, banks, aesthetic and medical clinics, cleaning services, gymnasiums, hotels, schools, and veterinary clinics.

Semi-structured face-to-face interviews, carried out in February 2009, were used to collect data. Three pilot interviews were made before deciding on the final version of the interview script, which can be seen in the Appendix. All participants received information about confidentiality and gave their consent. The interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed afterwards in Word-for-Windows files.

Data analysis

Content analysis (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005) was used to analyse data. We began with an initial scheme of categories (experiences of prejudice and discrimination in Portugal; the traits of luso-tropicalism and lusophony; the traits attributed to Brazilians and to Portuguese; and reports of organizational justice) and added a new category during the analysis, namely, labour market opportunities.

An independent researcher coded 12% of the interviews in order to make a reliability estimate of the category system (Creswell, 2007; Hsieh & Shannon, 2005). The initial measure of agreement was 91.75%, which was corrected by calculating the Kappa coefficient (Brennan & Prediger, 1981; Lombard, Snyder-Duch & Bracken, 2002). The final Kappa coefficient was 89.5%.

We decided to focus on the semantic corpus (participants' spoken expressions) rather than on the number of participants. So, we calculated the percentage of occurrence of each expression within its subcategory. For frequency counts, words with similar meaning were grouped. Five independent Brazilian judges examined the words in order to decide if they should be grouped or not, and the most frequent word became the group label. Expressions with an occurrence below 5%, and those expressed by only one participant, were excluded from the analysis. 65.66% of the initial semantic corpus remained and was analysed.

Those judges also decided if the traits attributed to Brazilians and to the Portuguese had positive or negative meaning, and evaluated the sense of the traits of luso-tropicalism which emerged from the participants' speech as well. In cases of diverging opinions, the agreement of three or more judges was considered sufficient.

Based on Vala (1981) and Valentim (2003, 2011), we compared the common and specific traits attributed to Brazilians and to the Portuguese. Finally, the Mann-Whitney test was used to check if the differences in the answers given by men and women, bosses and subordinates, and high school and college graduates were statistically significant.



Prejudice and discrimination

Relating experiences of prejudice and discrimination in Portuguese society, the participants talked about discrimination, prostitution, racism, using the word "Brazilian" in a pejorative sense, and offense and humiliation (see Table 1).

Traits attributed to Brazilians and to the Portuguese

Asked about what Brazilians who live in Portugal were like, 70.15% of the traits attributed by the participants were negative (such as dishonest, misinformed, and segregation). The positively attributed traits were honest, good, and determined. Such was not the case in the work context, with 97.10% of the traits mentioned being positive (such as good worker, open to new ideas, and responsible). When they talked about the Portuguese, the negative traits were more frequent than the positive ones in both contexts. "Rude" and "closed to new ideas" were the most frequent adjectives cited in both contexts. Men attributed more negative traits to the Portuguese in the work context than did women (U=29.000; p=.020).

Comparing the common and the specific traits attributed to both groups, based on Vala (1981) and on Valentim (2003, 2011), we see that 7.77% of the occurrences are common in the general context while 38.75% of them are common in the work context (see Table 2).

Luso-tropicalism and lusophony

As did Valentim (2003), we asked the participants whether they believed that immigrants would be less discriminated against in Portugal than in other European countries. The majority of the answers (39.39%) were about the existence of more discrimination in Portugal than in other European countries; followed by 33.33% that reported less discrimination in Portugal; and 27.27% that reported the same level. College graduate participants were more prone to believe that Brazilians would face less discrimination in Portugal (U=17,000; p=.041).

Other traits of luso-tropicalism emerged spontaneously from the discourse of the participants. We qualified these traits as "positive" (such as similar/ascendants, immigrants by nature, and cope with other races) or "negative", since they would express distance between the two groups (such as discoverers/settlers, superiors, and they invaded Brazil). The negative traits are more frequent than the positive ones, representing 67.85% of the total.

Regarding lusophony, 51.11% of the answers were about Brazilians being less discriminated against in Portugal than other immigrants who do not speak Portuguese (see Table 3). However, 37.78% of the answers were about Brazilians being more discriminated against than other immigrants who do not speak Portuguese.

Another indicator of lusophony was obtained by asking the participants if Brazilians would suffer less discrimination in Portugal because the two countries are called sister-nations. 86.54% of the answers were negative (76.92% of the answers were about Brazilians suffering as much discrimination as other immigrants and 9.62%, more discrimination). Only 13.46% of the answers were about Brazilians suffering less discrimination in Portugal due to the sister-nations issue.

The labour market for Brazilians in Portugal

Although 56.04% of the answers refer to the openness of the labour market, when we look at them thoroughly, we realize that they are about a restricted market: jobs without a contract and rights, jobs that Portuguese do not want, less important jobs, mainly in sales, restaurants, and construction (see Table 4). The other 43.96% of the answers were about prejudice and discrimination in the labour market, difficulties in finding a job in the same area the participant used to work in, in Brazil, and also in getting their diplomas validated, and about Brazilians - as competitors - representing a threat to Portuguese citizens in the labour market.

Furthermore, men also gave more answers about openness of the Portuguese labour market than did women (U=27.000; p=.025).

Organizational justice

Having applied an open question about organizational justice ("Do you think you receive the same treatment as the Portuguese do at work?"), we realized that some answers given by the participants were about organizational justice as a whole, and others were about specific dimensions of distributive, procedural, or interactional justice. In our study, we did not find any answers referring to informational justice.

Considering the answers about organizational justice as a whole, exactly 50% of the answers referred to the existence of fairness and 50% to unfairness (see Table 5). Some of the answers were related to what happens to illegal immigrants, nonetheless. If we disregard answers about immigrants who are working illegally, we find 75% of the answers reporting fair treatment.

The same happened when we looked at the answers about distributive justice, where initially we find 59.52% of the answers reporting fairness (such as "remuneration is equal", "remuneration is by results" and "equal career opportunities"). However, when we disregard answers about illegal immigrants, 69.44% of the answers are about fairness.

Regarding procedural justice, only answers reporting just treatment were found, such as "rules are fair" and "personnel selection is fair". Finally, regarding interactional justice, we found 50% of answers reporting fairness (such as "there is no difference" in treatment between a Brazilian and a Portuguese employee, and participants reporting "being praised" by their superiors); and, 50%, unfairness (such as "treatment of Brazilian and Portuguese employees by their supervisors is different" and "discrimination/humiliation").

The participants did not report the context of illegality when talking about procedural and interactional justice. Only women mentioned procedural and interactional justice issues.



Our results reveal that Brazilians report suffering discrimination in Portugal, not only in the general society but also when looking for a job. Thus, the contribution of luso-tropicalism and lusophony in preventing discrimination against Brazilians in Portugal is not observed. Considering legal immigrants, they perceive fairness within the organizational context, talking not only about organizational justice as a whole but also about its distributive and procedural dimensions. However, this perception is unclear when they talk about interactional justice. Furthermore, since participants identify more similarities between themselves and the Portuguese in the organizational context, we suggest that this specific context would contribute to the creation of a specific social identity.

We verify that participants report facing discrimination in Portuguese society. Participants report racism and they say that Brazilian women are associated with prostitution. They also mention being called "Brazilian", with a belittling tone and pejorative meaning. So, using the terms of Pettigrew and Meertens (1995), not only subtle but also overt prejudice is observed. Although Vala et al. (2008, 2009) found luso-tropicalism helping prevent overt prejudice against Africans in Portugal, our study suggests that Brazilians face both kinds of prejudice in Portugal: the subtle and the overt.

In order to verify whether ingroup favouritism and outgroup derogation and devaluation would be observed, the participants were asked to state what Brazilians who live in Portugal are like, first without focusing on a specific context, and later focusing on the work context. The same was asked about the Portuguese: What are the Portuguese like? And how are they at work? As was mentioned in the Method, it should be remembered that all the participants work with Portuguese people.

Brazilians attribute more negative than positive traits to members of their ingroup, which was not expected but can be understood by the "black-sheep effect" (Hutchison, Abrams, Gutierrez & Viki, 2008; Marques, Abrams, Paez & Martinez-Taboada, 1998; Marques, Abrams & Serôdio, 2001; Marques & Paez, 1994; Marques, Yzerbyt & Leyens, 1988; Mendonza, Paez, Marques, Techio & Espinosa, 2005). The black-sheep effect dynamics are as follows: When participants say that members from their ingroup behave anti-normatively, they are saying that the group as a whole does not do that. In other words, it is a way of saying that Brazilians are good or behave properly, according to social norms and, then, to a mechanism of ingroup favouritism. In contrast, a high occurrence of positive traits (97.10%) is attributed to Brazilians in the work context.

More negative traits are attributed to the Portuguese in both contexts: 76.19% in the general context and 81.32% in the work context. Therefore, ingroup favouritism and outgroup derogation are observed in both contexts, which is expected according to social identity theory (Chryssochoou, 2004; Tajfel, 1978a, 1978b, 1984; Valentim, 2008). These results correspond with those previously found by Valentim (2003, 2011), when Africans not only attributed positive traits to their group but also negative traits to the Portuguese.

However, when we consider all the traits attributed to Brazilians and to the Portuguese together and verify what is common and what is specific to each group (see Table 2), we find more similarities between the two groups in the work context than in the general one. From all the attributes cited by the participants in the general context, only "good" is common to both groups, representing 7.77% of the attributes mentioned. Yet, in the work context, we have "good worker" as common, but it represents 38,75% of the total attributes. Thus, we can understand the work context as a special social context, which nourishes the construction of a specific social identity. Our argument finds support in Hopkins and Reicher (1996), who affirm the congruence between stimuli - which are specific to each context - and social identity, and in Salk and Shenkar (2001) and Chryssochoou (2003), who point out that tasks, goals, environmental demands, and codes of behaviour influence the individual's identity. Indeed, Turner (1987) had already stated that the organizational context influences the social identity boundaries.

Regarding luso-tropicalism, only 33.33% of the answers are about the belief that immigrants face less discrimination in Portugal. These results correspond with those found by Valentim (2003), indicating that there is no difference in the perception of Brazilian and African immigrants in Portugal. The participants also mention some traits that here we call "positive" (i.e., similar/ascendants, immigrants by nature, and cope with other races), not only because they are related to the social plasticity of the Portuguese people (Freyre, 2005) but also because they contribute to approximating the two groups. However, these traits are less frequent than the negative ones (i.e., "they think they are discoverers/settlers", "they think they are superiors", and "they invaded Brazil"), which can be considered in the light of the ideas presented by Rothermund (2011), when he says that people from ex-colonies expect apologies from their post-imperial nations, while the people from such nations are not self-conscious about that and do not have those kinds of feelings at all. In our view, these differences of perception could create distance between the two groups and are, owing to that, negative.

If we take into account the ideas of lusophony, while the majority of the answers are about Brazilians facing less discrimination in Portugal than other immigrants who do not speak Portuguese, the same does not apply to the idea that they would face less discrimination because the two countries are considered sister-nations. Conversely, the majority of the answers state that the idea of sister-nations is "just talk" or "folklore." Our results reinforce those obtained by previous researchers, who did not observe the contribution of luso-tropicalism and lusophony in reducing discrimination against immigrants (Vala et al., 1999; Vala et al., 2008; Valentim, 2003, 2005). With regards to the common language, even though most of the answers are about less discrimination against Brazilians when compared to other immigrants who do not speak Portuguese, we must highlight that 37.38% of the answers report the opposite, Brazilians facing more discrimination in Portugal exactly because of speaking Portuguese, which runs completely counter to the idea of lusophony.

Moreover, college graduate participants are more prone to believe that Brazilians would face less discrimination in Portugal, which we suggest be carefully examined in further studies, since, as we are going to see, Brazilians report finding low-status jobs in Portugal.

As previously reported by Machado (2004), Maciel et al. (2011), and Pires (2002), Brazilians report finding jobs in sales, restaurants, and construction. Moreover, they say that they get "less important jobs" or "jobs that Portuguese do not want." They also talk about precariousness and informality ("jobs without a contract or rights"), the same results previously related by Machado (2004) and by Pires (2006). Finally, they report the difficulty in getting their diplomas validated and their professions recognized by administrative bodies, which was also reported by Góis and Marques (2007) and by Pires (2006). Furthermore, men give more answers about openness of the Portuguese labour market than do women. So, a double prejudice is observed, of women facing discrimination because of their nationality and their gender, which was also found in previous studies (Avery, McKay & Wilson, 2008; Donovan, Drasgow & Munson, 1998; Meares et al., 2009; Schieman & Reid, 2008).

It is also interesting to note that, although the labour market is reported to be more open to men than to women, working men nonetheless attribute more negative traits to their Portuguese colleagues than women do, which could be a topic for further study. An alternative understanding is offered by Spielberger (1996), who states that men tend to exhibit overtly angry reactions more often than women do.

In addition, the participants report an awareness that they are also discriminated against because they represent an economic threat in the labour market, as they are competing with a Portuguese citizen. This agrees with Pettigrew and Meertens (1995), and is accentuated in the current context of unemployment (Rothermund, 2011).

It is interesting to note that although Brazilians report the hostility of the labour market when they are looking for a job in Portugal, rarely getting jobs other than in sales, restaurants, and construction, once they are hired they somehow report being treated fairly. When we disregard the answers about illegal workers (Brazilians who work in Portugal without a work visa), the majority of the answers report both organizational justice and distributive justice.

Only a few answers are given on procedural justice. They are related to equity of rules and fairness in the personnel selection process. Regarding interactional justice, 50% of the answers were related to fairness and the other 50%, to unfairness. As Scott et al. (2009) proposed, as superiors have more discretion to act on the interactional aspects of organizational justice, it is likely that these aspects are violated more than the distributive or procedural ones. Furthermore, Colquitt et al. (2001) explain that while people evaluate distributive and procedural justice based on their perception of the organization as a whole (system-referenced evaluation), when they evaluate interactional justice they take into account perceptions about their relationship with their supervisors (agent-referenced model). Sousa and Vala (2002) and Meares et al. (2009) have related interactional injustice to discrimination against outgroup members.

While men only mentioned organizational justice as a whole, and its distributive dimension, women talked about procedural and interactional justice issues. Previous studies found that men concentrate more on the distributive issues of justice while women, on procedural and interactional ones (Sweeney & McFarlin, 1997; Tata & Bowes-Sperry, 1996). However, other studies did not find the same results, such as Lee and Farh (1999) who found women concentrating more on distributive rather than procedural matters. As these correlations are unclear, we suggest future studies should be done in order to clarify them.

In order to understand the case that Brazilians report discrimination against them in the labour market, yet fair treatment when they are working, we look at the studies of Minard (1952) and also at Realistic Conflict Theory (Taylor, 1994). Studying the relationship of black and white coal miners in West Virginia, Minard (1952) realized that people conform to local social norms. Working below ground, the coal miners were integrated despite their skin colour. However, when they returned home, black and white people practically did not interact.

Realistic Conflict Theory considers the compatibility of interests in explaining the difference between the labour market and the organizational context. Competing in the labour market, the two groups have incompatible interests (if the Brazilian gets the job, the Portuguese remains unemployed), but when they are working, the interests are complementary. Leaders can overcome group differences by setting superordinate goals, which can only be achieved if people from different groups go beyond their differences and cooperate to reach the common goal.

It is important to note some limitations of the current study. First of all, the results cannot be generalized, taking into account that the small and heterogeneous sample was selected by convenience, which implies that it is not representative.

Secondly, we also were asking the participants directly if they had felt discriminated against in Portugal. Questions about discrimination should be asked indirectly, in order to avoid influencing the answers.

Another limitation in our study that should be considered is that only Brazilians had a voice, and the study would be enhanced by giving voice to the Portuguese. We have observed, for instance, that Brazilians report that they do not find jobs in their professional field in Portugal, and we wonder if Portuguese people find them. According to Bógus (2007), the creation of job opportunities in Portugal, especially the highly-qualified ones, has been insufficient to meet the demand by young people, and even the Portuguese are leaving the country to get a qualified job elsewhere.

Finally, it is important to mention that our empirical study was conducted in 2009 and, with the worsening of the financial crisis, the increasing rates of unemployment in Portugal, and the rising job openings in Brazil (Maciel et al., 2011), the immigration flows might change. The number of Brazilians living in Portugal has decreased since 2010 (SEF, 2012), but data about the total impact of economic and financial crisis on immigration flows are still unavailable (Coleman, 2012). Therefore, we suggest further studies should be done in order to update the data on discrimination against Brazilians in Portugal.



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Recebido em: 29.01.2012
Aprovado em: 16.11.2012



1 O autor agradece aos participantes do estudo, ao pesquisador que contribuiu para a estimativa da confiabilidade da codificação dos dados, aos juízes que contribuíram com a avaliação semântica do conteúdo e aos revisores da rPOT por suas valiosas contribuições para a melhoria deste artigo.