Academic journal article The South East Asian Journal of Management

SUSTAINABLE GROWTH AND ETHICS: A Study of Business Ethics in Vietnam between Business Students and Working Adults

Academic journal article The South East Asian Journal of Management

SUSTAINABLE GROWTH AND ETHICS: A Study of Business Ethics in Vietnam between Business Students and Working Adults

Article excerpt

Achieving a nation's sustainable growth requires a collective and cohesive effort of its society, government, business organizations and individuals. With a growing concern on social and environmental issues as well as the pressure of achieving economic returns, companies, as an important part of the society, nowadays pay serious attention on and strategically consider their social responsibility as a critical driver of sustainable growth. One of the cornerstones of sustainable growth is ethics. Cohen (2007) argued that "deeply evaluated and clearly articulated morals and ethics become inseparable from the principles that guide the progression of sustainable growth movements" (as cited in Middlebrooks et al., 2009). Ethical companies seem to engage in fair and honest practices and operations in dealing with all the different groups of stakeholders which could result in stakeholders' acceptance, respect, and trust (Epstein, 2008; Maria and Dan-Constantin, 2010; Ussahawanitchakit, 2011). Epstein (2008), Bernal and Edgar (2012) and many others believed that it is the individuals with deep ethical beliefs and values who can help ensure business sustainability. They may work in different environments, serve in different roles, and experience different concepts of sustainability. However, there are some similar characteristics that are found among them, such as being ethical and responsible. Middlebrooks et al. (2009) believed the emerging fundamental of sustainability is based on responsibility, equity, justice, and environmentalism. Epstein and Roy (2003) proposed nine principles of sustainability performance including ethics, governance, transparency, business relationships, financial return, community involvement/economic development, value of products and services, employment practices, and protection of the environment. Ethical companies set virtuous principles and high standards of ethical behavior and expect everyone to behave in accordance with these principles and standards, including fairness, honesty, justice, dignity, and integrity (Epstein 2008; Ussahawanitchakit 2011).

Ethical behavior has been emphasized to be an important element of sustainability. The term "sustainability" has emerged, along with social responsibility and corporate governance, as important subject matters for business today. Sustainability encompasses legal, ethical, moral, and social responsibility values and behaviors. As presented in Figure 1, the Business Sustainability Continuum (BSC) demonstrates that start-up businesses often focus on meeting their bottom-line break-even points and legal requirements in order to stay in business. As these firms grow in term s of their market share and revenue, these businesses often begin to see the importance of their actions being seen as ethical and socially responsible for relevant stakeholders in the community. Furthermore, intense local and global competition forces firms to strategically act in an economic, legal, ethical, and socially responsible manner.

The BSC illustrates that the continual success and "sustainability" of the business can only be achieved by an adherence to the core values of economics, legal, ethical and social responsibility (Mujtaba and Cavico, 2013). Social Responsibility indicates that a business must focus on the community and engage in civic, philanthropic, and charitable endeavors as part of the business' overall strategic plan in order have sustainable growth. Sustainability will help the business, but also help the business help local leaders solve pressing social problems.

Vietnam, an emerging economy in Southeast Asia, has been increasingly integrating to the regional and global business. The investment environment has been improved remarkably and the political environment has maintained its stability over the past few decades. This helps Vietnam attract foreign investors (Ralston et al., 2006). However, its business culture and professional ethical standards are yet to be known by Western people. …

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