Toward a more Filipino management education


AS we celebrate Independence Day, let us reflect — how can we rethink our systems, especially business and management education, so that it highlights our Filipino culture and context?

The current landscape of business and management in higher education often leans heavily toward Western theories and practices. In my own doctoral journey, most of the theories my peers and I learned were indeed from the West, which may be because of the abundant literature available to study them. While these theories may have universal value, they may not always explain the nuances of our unique business environment and culture — neglecting the richness and diversity of our own Filipino traditions, values and customs.

Be that as it may, within the Philippine context, there still lies a wealth of Indigenous concepts and practices we can adapt for business and management. For instance, values such as “bayanihan,” a spirit of communal unity, work and cooperation, and “pakikipagkapwa,” a sense of empathy and solidarity with others, characterize the core of our societal fabric. Other norms and values, like “hiya” or sense of propriety can further be harnessed to promote ethical business practices and corporate social responsibility. The fear of losing face can drive businesses to uphold their reputations by acting in line with social expectations and ethical norms. “Utang na loob,” or debt of gratitude, can also play a significant role in fostering long-term business relationships. This sense of gratitude and obligation can help establish trust and loyalty among business partners, employees and customers.

These norms and values, for better or worse, have a profound influence on our business culture and are key to understanding how businesses in the Philippines thrive. We can highlight exemplar Filipino businesses and social enterprises that embody these values. At the same time, we can also highlight risks and potential negative outcomes that may emerge from our cultural context. Moreover, given that business and management are interdisciplinary, we can be inspired by the developments of Sikolohiyang Pilipino and other such examples in various fields.

A Filipino-centric business curriculum can serve broader socioeconomic goals of the country. It has the potential to align business practices with the needs of the local communities, promoting sustainable development and inclusivity. This approach recognizes that businesses are not just economic entities but also social units that contribute to the well-being of the society they operate in. Given that small, medium and micro entrepreneurship fuels our economy, wouldn’t it make sense to craft a curriculum that is more relatable and accessible for Filipino entrepreneurs?

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From a pedagogical perspective and reflecting on my experiences teaching management principles and research, I find that students tend to be more engaged by local case studies and Indigenous constructs. There is still so much insight to share that existing Western theories cannot appropriately nor fully explain. I would even say that there is unique beauty to be found in the way Filipinos treat families and communities — these stories cannot be meaningfully told through purely Western lenses.

Imagine a curriculum where we integrate these Filipino values into business education to create socially responsible and community-centric nation-builders and scholars. It is exciting to think about, but there are challenges. It will take time, resources, energy and commitment from educators, researchers, practitioners and policymakers to make this endeavor feasible. Yet, I cannot help but think: it’s time for our Western colleagues to also learn from us.

Patrick Adriel H. Aure, PhD (Patch) is an associate professor at the Department of Management and Organization, and assistant dean for Quality Assurance at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. He advocates humanistic and sustainability oriented management research as president of the Philippine Academy of Management.

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