Print this page

Organisational behaviour: Toward theory of corporate culture

Adstract: Corporate culture is a very interesting research topic today because corporate culture is a social category with many values, different value groups play an important role in the formation, operation and development of a business. In the current integration period, the right understanding of corporate culture not only brings economic benefits but also is a promise for the sustainable development of the business in the future. Moreover, the corporate behavioral culture is a key factor determining business performance. It is essential that businesses know and understand the corporate culture and we will cover them in this article.

Keyword: Culture, Corporate Culture, Organisational Behaviour.

Tóm tắt: 

Văn hóa doanh nghiệp là một lĩnh vực nghiên cứu rất được quan tâm hiện nay. Bởi vì, văn hóa doanh nghiệp là phạm trù xã hội có nhiều giá trị, nhóm giá trị khác nhau đóng quan trọng trong việc hình thành, vận hành và phát triển một doanh nghiệp. Trong thời kỳ hội nhập như hiện nay, việc nhìn nhận đúng về văn hóa doanh nghiệp không chỉ mang lại lợi ích về kinh tế mà còn là sự hứa hẹn cho việc phát triển bền vững của doanh nghiệp trong tương lai. Hơn thế nữa, văn hóa ứng xử trong doanh nghiệp là một yếu tố then chốt quyết định hiệu quả kinh doanh. Việc các doanh nghiệp cần biết và hiểu về văn hóa doanh nghiệp là điều cần thiết và chúng tôi sẽ đề cập chúng trong bài viết này.

1. Definition of corporate culture.

1.1. Culture

For a long time, the first supposed definition of culture by scientist Edward Burnett Tylor (1832 - 1917) in “Primitive culture” has been cited in most of studies of culture. Culture or civilization, in the broadest sense of the ethnography, generally includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, customs and a number of other capacities and customs dominated by humans status as a member of society (EB Tylor & Hien Giang translation, 2001, p.13). With Tylor’s definition of culture, he used the method of interpretation to point out the elements that he thought constituting the complex as "culture" or "civilization". The advantage of this definition is that it helps us to identify specifically and accurately the objects of culture, and determines the relationship between people and the social environment. But there is also a disadvantage that it will have low generality to complex cultural objects. When the subject changes, the definition is no longer relevant. His definition also shows that, must be a social person to “dominate” culture or civilization. A very clear affirmation of the role of human perception, consciousness, and ideas leads to the formation of culture or civilization.

Culture is a concept defined from many different perspectives, however, most of the conceptions are that culture is an inevitable product of the society, formed in the life journey of each community, it is the result of the human interaction with the natural environment and society, crystallized and presented in all human creative acts, manifested in all the physical and mental products made by humans, from the tools of production and daily essential activities to artistic products; from scientific knowledge to folk knowledge…

Not only present in the physical and spiritual products made by humans, culture is also included in the way people make those products. Culture is also an element present in the social relationships between people and people, whether it is economic or religious relations, legal relations or everyday relationships... Culture is also, at the same time, the energies themselves constituting human personality, from intellect to morality; from soul to affection; from the will to the creative capacities..., all have formed the lifestyle, habits, customs, ways of thinking, behaving, thereby reflecting the lifestyle, way of thinking and behavior of people in a specific ecological - humanistic environment, creating a unique face of each community.

Thus, culture reflects the way of life of a community, formed as a result of the human interaction with the natural environment and society. Combining all the above aspects, culture covers all areas of human life, manifested in the way of life, in the way of living, creating a typical and sustainable characteristic trait. All contribute to the unique characteristics of a nation, make the difference between one ethnic group and another.           

1.2. Corporate culture           

Although the concept of “corporate culture” appeared too late, it is similar to the concept of culture, corporate culture has many different definitions. And to understand more about this concept, we should first know the concept of enterprise.

According to the Vietnamese Encyclopedia, enterprise is determined that: “an enterprise is a business unit established for the main purpose of carrying out business activities of the owners (state, collective, private) on one or more industries... Enterprises with legal status are established on the basis of: having clear business objectives; legal capital, charter capital in accordance with the scale and business lines; business managers and executives must have relevant qualifications required by law for some professions” (The National Council directed the compilation of Vietnamese encyclopedia, 2011).

From a legal perspective, an enterprise is understood as an economic organisation with its own name, assets, stable transaction office, and business registration in accordance with the law, with the aim of implementing business activities. (National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 2014).

When researching on the development of enterprises, researchers believe that the factors that make up the sustainable development of the whole enterprise are considered as important such as: the enterprise has monopoly on the market due to the management practices brought about or by the unhealthy competitive market; Material factors are often considered the "absolute" power of the business: capital, business size or family external relations, unhealthy connections between businesses… When explaining the factors beyond the notions of business success, the researchers also found that there is a dominant cultural factor, creating success, creating outstanding strength of the business is the corporate culture.

So what is corporate culture? According to Trung Dung, Xuan Ha (2008), corporate culture can be understood as “the whole cultural value is built up during the process of existing and developing an entire enterprise, becoming values, traditional concepts and practices are deeply rooted in the operations of that business. These values govern the emotions, thinking and behavior of all business members in the pursuit and realization of common goals”.

Or author Do Minh Khoi (2009) has defined the concept of corporate culture as follows: “Corporate culture is a system of mental and physical standards, regulates relationships, attitudes and behaviors of all members in which the direction of good values has been agreed by the society, creating a unique feature and long-term strength of the business through the strength of the product in the market. ".

From understanding and inheriting research results of scientists, we find that corporate culture can be understood simply as a set of values that enterprises build on the acceptance of business communities and social recognition. These values support the growth of the business and benefit each individual in the business.

Through a number of concepts, it is enough to prove the diversity and richness of corporate culture concepts, and at the same time show the great concern of society on this issue. So what can help businesses fully and balance their obligations and still exist and develop sustainably, that is the building and development of corporate culture in the process of organizing business activities.

2. The structure of corporate culture

When studying the constituents of corporate culture, Western culturalists have determined that corporate culture consists of two parts: tangible culture - tangible values that make up the visual image of the enterprise (logo, clothing, architectural decoration...); Intangible culture - spiritual values (concepts, codes of conduct of members...).

However, Tran Ngoc Them (2014) conception of cultural division according to the two-component structure is the tangible culture and the intangible culture, this is the monolithic and most popular form of division. But there will be cultural objects that will become complex and indistinguishable, such as company - identifying employees in the enterprise as physical culture but when wearing uniforms, employee feels proud and spreads the company’s image more widely is an intangible culture. This is the disadvantage of the two-component structure, so Tran Ngoc Them has proposed the three-component structure division, which will create many rich models and ensure the coverage of the culture. That is cognitive culture, behavioral culture, organizational and governance culture. And when putting corporate culture in the coordinate system with the division of three components, we find that corporate culture also shows those common cultural elements.

Cognitive culture is an element of corporate culture, which is the awareness of relationships and ways of dealing with business in the business process towards a sustainable development based on the traditional and modern cultural values ​​of a nation. Cognitive corporate culture includes elements to form the basic foundation of the company’s behaviors shown in the business process that corporate culture aims to. The second element of corporate culture is the behavioral culture, showing the enterprise's behavior towards natural resources, social community and corporate human resources. Behavioral culture is part that we will analyze in more depth in the next section. Business a practical human activity associated with the development of science - technology and production forces. Putting management science into business, innovating technology equipment, using information technology, applying marketing, forming competitive strategies... that is to bring corporate culture into a competitive advantage. This is also the last element of corporate culture, which is organizational and governance culture.

The elements in the corporate culture structure have different duties and requirements, all of which must be based on traditional and modern cultural values. But corporate culture has the characteristic that expresses the unique identity of each enterprise, characteristic elements are formed by the leaders lead and collectively support, implement and determine which are concerned first. The culture of Japanese businesses is based on the values ​​expressed "family business, through lifelong recruitment, seniority and under-discussion" (Mitokazu A., 1993, p.42), but the corporate culture of enterprises such as Honda, IBM, Sony... all have different identities, because enterprises choose their priority values, forming business philosophy corporate, mission, and social responsibility demonstrate the differentiated corporate culture identity.

3. The structure of behavioral corporate culture.

3.1. Culture of dealing with natural resources.

During the business process, the enterprise has a close relationship with nature. Natural resources are direct raw materials for business. Without natural resources, there will be no physical production activities, but natural resources are natural "treasures" bestowed on people. Businesses want to be effective and sustainable, they ask enterprises to have a sense of protection, thrift and efficient use of resources to ensure their competitiveness in the market.

The most important factor in the culture of dealing with natural resources is the attitude and way in the matter of environmental protection. Regardless of any business sector, the production process has an impact on the natural environment due to waste. If the products of the business process are not controlled, they will destroy the ecological environment, change climate, polluted the living environment... That is really catastrophic to human life.

Therefore, the saving of natural resources, being positive, self-conscious and using advanced technology in environmental protection are manifestations in the corporate culture of dealing with natural resources for the benefit of the enterprise, and the benefit of the community.

3.2. Behavior culture with social community

In the corporate culture, the cultural element of community behavior is very important, is manifested in specific economic behaviors towards the community, demonstrating the traditional and modern cultural values that are promoted so that enterprises “overcome profits to reach responsibility to serve the public interests” (Pham Xuan Nam, 1996, p.241). The interests of the business are always appreciated, belonging to the nature of the business process, but the benefits must be associated with the interests of consumers, with the stability and development of the socio-economy, cannot have a corporate culture without a culture of dealing with the community.

Behavior culture with social community is reflected in the compliance with the laws on business. Compliance with the law creates a good relations between the business and the community and the protection of the state to the business. Honesty must be appreciated in business, honesty brings prestige and competitiveness of the business.

In addition, behavior culture with social community is manifested in the fact that businesses are always aware and have a strategy to improve the quality of goods, ensuring safety standards for users behavior culture with social community is also demonstrated through the building and protection of the business name, trademark and brand (logo). The symbolic brand name of the corporate culture, expressing the prestige and position of the goods, “is an asset that is built and accumulated consciously. Brand is the pride of the business, creating consumer confidence in the products and services it provides” (Vu Quoc Tuan, 2003, p.1-9). 

Behavior culture with social community is also reflected in the communication culture of the business through staff, through business activities, communication in language, text... are factors that must be conscious protection regularly, ensure respect customers under the motto “customer is God”. Behavior culture with social community is expressed through social activities such as charity activities, donating to training funds... must be regular activities that show the social responsibility of the business, make a deep impression on the image community of the business. 

Behavior culture with social community requires businesses to accept competitiveness in the market to show their bravery. Competition and cooperation, protection of resources, especially intellectual property. Corporate culture does not accept cheating tricks to defeat competitors, infringement of intellectual property is counterculture.

3.3. Behavior culture with human resources in enterprises.

Human resources in enterprises are a key factor determining business performance, enterprises must consider employees as the most valuable resource, creating added value and developing sustainably.

Behavior culture with human resources in enterprises requires building a humane environment, based on the principles of compassion in the relationship between people, encouraging and respecting creativity and the spirit of dare to think and dare to do of workers; rationally using human resources, fair but unequal in income distribution, using economic leverage. Thus, the responsible human resources, solidarity, democracy, trust sharing, building and implementation of corporate culture can be built.

Behavior culture with human resources in enterprises is a very important factor in corporate culture. Because, it is from the behavior culture with human resources in enterprises based on cultural values ​​accepted by the employees’ collective that will be the factor that creates the first motivation, creates consensus, enhances the brand, efforts to build a successful corporate culture. Taking a typical example of the causes of the success of Japanese businesses is that enterprises have created for employees a creative environment, promoting their best to serve enterprises with a commitment to the result from enterprises is “lifelong recruitment regime” (Nguyen Dinh Phuc, 2015). Businesses should also admit that they are competing and losing talent to other businesses. The reality of the global economy and the distribution of many human resources information is that talent is scattered across many fields. Future of Work community founder Jacob Morgan (2016) once said: “We are going through a global battle for talent, not just an industry or a location but rather the battle of the business to find talented people all over the world”. He also added: “What do businesses do to retain the best? It is to focus on the employee's experience, creating a working environment that motivates employees to want to express themselves rather than where they are forced to work” (Jacob Morgan, 2016). Although this issue is really a challenge for businesses in the competition process, but it also shows that businesses that want to succeed must create a culture of dealing with human resources with high human values, is the driving force that motivates employees to contribute to the success of the business.

The behaviour culture with human resources in enterprises is demonstrated through traditional enterprise rituals are associated with humanist events such as the date of establishment of the business, the date of recognition of achievements…; summarise the development history of the business, highlight the anecdotes of traditions, traditional songs express the cultural values that the enterprise has chosen; develop rules of conduct and activities between individuals and collectives, among departments in the business based on the consensus principles of members.

Highlighting traditional anecdotes expressing the ethical values, will, corporate spirit... of those who contribute to the development of the business, or traditional songs expressing development aspirations that the business has chosen... All are the appreciation of the core cultural values among the cultural girls that express the unique identity of each business.

Any enterprises have their own regulations on labour regulations and discipline, but these provisions are administrative or coercive; therefore, it does not create self-awareness of human resources. Therefore, when building a culture of dealing with human resources, businesses need to have a code of conduct that is involved in the members themselves and builds on the principles of promoting collective values in accordance with personal benefits.

In short, when building the behaviour culture with human resources in enterprises, enterprises must pay attention to creating an environment where employees can devote their knowledge and professional skills, an environment that help them express themselves and success, creation, improvement and successful application of professional knowledge and skills bring efficiency to the business.

Thus, corporate culture always plays an important role when an entrepreneur decides to build and develop its business. Therefore, the awareness of corporate culture of entrepreneurs and the community combined with appropriate solutions will help the development of businesses in the future.

MA. Nguyen Minh Tri,
LLM. Tran Nguyen Quang Ha


Do Minh Khoi (2009), Văn hóa doanh nghiệp là gì? (What is corporate culture?), The Saigon Times Daily, Vol. 31/2009, Saigon Times Group Publisher.

E.B. Tylor, Huyen Giang translation (2001), Văn hóa nguyên thủy (Primitive Culture), Journal of Culture & Arts, Hanoi.

Jacob Morgan (2016, July 15), Why you are not just in a War for Talent with your competition, Retrieved from

Mitokazu A. (1193), Nghệ thuật quản lý kiểu Nhật Bản (The art of Japeness Management), National Political Publishing House, Hanoi.

National Assembly of Vietnam (2014), Law on enterprises 2014, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi.

Nguyen Dinh Phuc (2015, September 9), Tuyển dụng trọn đời, một 'đặc sản' Nhật Bản (Lifetime employment in Japan), Retrieved from

Pham Thanh Tam (2017), Văn hóa doanh nghiệp trong tiến trình hội nhập quốc tế (Corporate culture in international integration), Hanoi National University Publisher.

Pham Xuan Nam (1996), Văn hóa và kinh doanh (Culture and Business), Social Science Publishing House, Hanoi.

Shane Green, Mai Lan translation (2019), Văn hóa doanh nghiệp trong thời đại công nghệ số (Corporate culture in the digital age), Labour Publishing House.

The National Council directed the compilation of Vietnamese encyclopedia (2011), Literally Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Vietnam – Vol 1, Vietnam's Encyclopedia Publishing House, Hanoi.

Tran Ngoc Them (2014), Những vấn đề văn hóa học lý luận và ứng dụng (Issues of Culturology: Theory & Practice), Culture–Literature and Arts Publishing House, Hochiminh city.

Trung Dung, Xuan Ha (2008), Xây dựng văn hóa mạnh trong doanh nghiệp (Build a strong culture in corporate), Journal of Science and Fatherland, Vol. 12/2008.

Vu Quoc Tuan (2003), Về văn hóa doanh nghiệp ở nước ta hiện nay (Regarding corporate culture in Vietnam today), Proceedings of the seminar: Building Vietnamese corporate culture, 23/05/2003.

Đã đọc 25467 lần