Business Culture Resources for Sustainable Development

7:55:13 AM | 1/21/2022

National economic development requires national administrators to effectively identify, mobilize and develop economic and social resources. Finance, physical facilities, people and natural resources play a fundamental and indispensable role in the socioeconomic development strategy. However, the country’s sustainable development also requires social soft resources in which social culture and business culture are core values.

Culture illustrates accepted norms and values and traditional behaviors in a group or in a country. A common definition of culture is “the way we work and get things done”. However, culture also evolves over time. The culture of each country has its own beliefs, values and activities. In other words, it is a set of existing and growing beliefs, values and attitudes of all people. Culture is key in business and influential on the strategy of a company. Culture shapes governance, decision-making and all business functions from accounting to manufacturing. Business culture has its own unique aspects, including values, vision, working style, beliefs and habits of an organization.

Vietnamese business culture appeared quite early. After many historical twists and turns, living through economic and social rigors, it always shows the intelligence, creativity, sensitivity, and quick adaptation of Vietnamese businesses and entrepreneurs. The doi moi (renovation) process affirms and enhances their role and position in society, and is an important condition for Vietnamese business culture to be gradually aroused and promoted with full nuance. In addition, in the context of economic opening and integration, Vietnamese enterprises and entrepreneurs in the world of cooperation and competition have realized their business purposes not only for profit but also for the honor of Vietnam in the international market. Many Vietnamese companies of world class are well aware that brand construction and development is not only for maximizing profitability, but also protecting and preserving the national face and national culture in the integration process.

However, at present, in our country, building and promoting business culture resources is still weak and “business culture has not really become an endogenous resource and driving force for the country's sustainable development”, as stated by the Document of the 13th National Party Congress. In our country’s developing and completing legal environment, some profit-seeking companies have defied ethics and discipline, denied traditional ethical values, and violated the nation's business standards and traditions. Its basic source is human characteristic “greed without limit” as mentioned by Theorist Doan Duy Thanh in his work "Building a socialist rule of law state of the people, by the people and for the people according to Ho Chi Minh's thoughts" (Su That National Political Publishing House - December 2021). That fact shows that Vietnam's business culture needs to have its own specific strategy to make business culture and entrepreneurs’ ambitions a fifth source of positive energy for the cause of sustainable development.

The Politburo’s Resolution 09-NQ/TW dated December 9, 2011 on “Building and promoting the role of Vietnamese entrepreneurs in the period of accelerating industrialization, modernization and international integration" clearly defines the goals “Building a strong entrepreneur force, imbued with national spirit, political enlightenment, business culture, high social responsibility, enough capability and qualifications to lead and manage quality, effective and competitive companies”. Especially, in the new period, building advanced Vietnamese business culture, imbued with national identity, is a necessary and urgent requirement. According to statistics, culture "can account for 20-30% of differences in business performance as compared to competitors with no culture”. Before this reality, the viewpoint on building business culture of the 13th National Party Congress once again creates a strategic approach to make Vietnamese business culture a truly important endogenous resource for sustainable economic development of Vietnam. But what makes a successful culture? To realize the Party's Resolutions and Document in the context of rule-of-law society, a successful Vietnamese business culture strategy needs to be developed with the following six basic components, according to researchers.

1. Vision: A great culture begins with a vision or mission statement that sets goals and guides business values. That purpose, in turn, guides every decision of employees. When they are presented authentically and prominently, good vision statements can even help guide customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. The vision statement is a seemingly simple but really fundamental element of business culture. In particular, in a country that is moving towards a rule of law state and perfecting the market mechanism, business visions should be coupled with respect for law, efficiency and business ethics.

2. Value: The value of a business is the core of its culture. While the vision states its purposes, the set of values provides a guide to behaviors and mindsets needed to achieve that vision. A set of values that are clearly stated and specifically communicated to all employees may include how the company is committed to serving customers, treating partners, and upholding professional standards. Value is a broad concept that embodies the spirit and attitude needed to achieve the company's vision.

3. Practice: Of course, the set of values only really plays an important role when they are respected in real business life. If a business claims that “our people are our greatest asset,” it should also be willing to make tangible investments in people. Likewise, if it respects a "flat" and democratic hierarchy, it must encourage many lower-level dissent members to join discussions without fear or negative influence. And they must be reinforced in review criteria and promotion policies, and incorporated into the day-to-day operating business principles. Practices are tangible methods, guided by specific measures, by which an enterprise realizes its values.

4. People: No business can build a cohesive culture without people who share its core values or are willing and able to adopt those values. That's why the biggest businesses in the world also have some of the strictest hiring policies. The best businesses are fanatical about hiring new employees who are not only the most talented but also those who fit their particular corporate culture. People stick with the culture they like and people who share the culture will strengthen the culture and enhance the overall culture the business already has.

5. Building personal examples: Business culture strategists are highly in agreement on building personal examples in the business with the power of narrative. Any business has a unique history - a unique story. And, how to write that history into a narrative is at the heart of cultural creation. Elements of that story can be grandiose, set into a movie, or as simple as word of mouth. But they are more powerful when defined, shaped and told as part of a cultural continuum of a company.

6. Place: How can an open environment create an environment for business members to meet throughout the day and interact in informal, unplanned ways? And why are tech companies concentrated in Silicon Valley, and financial firms situated in London and New York? There are obviously many answers to these questions, but a clear one is that location shapes culture. Open architecture is more conducive to certain office behaviors, such as collaboration. Places - no matter what location, architecture or design aesthetic - impact people's values and behaviors in the workplace.

Our Party has identified as one of the key tasks in the 13th National Party Congress: “Arousing aspirations to develop a prosperous and happy country; promote Vietnamese cultural values and human strength in the cause of national construction and defense, and international integration." In that process, building and developing Vietnamese business culture on six basic components will turn human attributes of "unlimited greed" into positive energies and a powerful resource for sustainable and lasting development of the entrepreneur force and the whole nation. Culture, including business culture, the fifth resource along with four other resources: finance, materials, resources and people - will be the five golden stars that will bring the country up to the vision for a state ruled by law where there are no poor people when we celebrate our 100th national founding anniversary.

By Thai Cong, Vietnam Business Forum