Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of budi, a concept incorporating moral values and intellect, in shaping the Malay workplace ethics and behaviour of the Malays.
Design/methodology/approach – This is a conceptual paper investigating how existing knowledge of budi and Malay cultural traditions manifests and affects contemporary workplace practices.
Findings – Although the origins of budi can be traced back to pre-Islamic Malay civilisation, its influence can still be found in contemporary workplace settings. For example, the hierarchical organisational structure and workplace etiquette that characterise Malay managerial practices are related to budi. At the same time, this paper also suggests that budi may potentially serve as a catalyst for certain less desirable work practices, including the greater importance attached to prioritising social relations over work performance.
Originality/value – In analysing budi, the paper explores a largely overlooked cultural concept within management literature. Although the Malay world is a rapidly growing centre of economic and business activity, relatively little scholarly attention has been devoted to exploring the cultural underpinnings and foundations that shape and influence Malay managerial and workplace practices among Malays.