The Cultural Dimensions of the Vietnamese Private Entrepreneurship

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The Cultural Dimensions of the Vietnamese Private Entrepreneurship Vuong Quan Hoang* and Tran Tri Dung**

This paper examines the influence of cultural and socioeconomic factors on the growth of enterpreneurship in Vietnam. Traditional cultural values continue to have a strong impact on the Vietnamese society, and to a large extent adversely affect the entrepreneurial spirit of the community. Typical constraints private entrepreneurs face may have roots in the cultural facet as legacy of the Confucian society like relationship-based bank credit. Low quality business education is both a victim and culprit of the long-standing tradition that looks down on the role of private entrepreneurship in the country.

Introduction
This paper explores the cultural impacts on the private entrepreneurship in the post-Doi Moi Vietnam.1 Some important aspects of the traditional cultural values of the Vietnamese society are explored along with the socioeconomic changes over the past two decades. In the academic circle across the world, entrepreneurship has enjoyed a voluminous literature contributed by many scholars in economics, sociology, anthropology, business management and political sciences, since the mid-20th century. The research line of entrepreneurship has received huge attention from the economists’ community across the world, especially after the seminal work in 1934, by Joseph Schumpeter’s The Theory of Economic Development. In his study, Schumpeter placed entrepreneurship in a major theoretical framework to track the progress of human society and economic growth. Since the study of Schumpeter, there has been a major shift in the perception of economists. Entrepreneurs could now be considered a crucial factor in contributing to the economic * Professor of Financial Economics, Department of Finance, Center Emile Bernheim, Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management (SBS-EM), ULB CP 145/01 50, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Brussels, Belgium; and is the corresponding author. E-mail: qvuong@ulb.ac.be * * Director, Dan Houtte, Vuong & Partners – Economics & Management, 6/80 Le Trong Tan, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi, Vietnam. E-mail: dungtt@empirics.net 1

In 1986, Vietnam Communist Party and Government started economic reform programs, which were called Doi Moi. Major contents of these programs were replacement of central planning economic mechanism by market-oriented mechanism, acknowledgement of private property, and international/regional economic integration.

© 54 2009 IUP. All Rights Reserved. The IUP Journal of Entrepreneurship Development, Vol. VI, Nos. 3 & 4, 2009

growth by taking up opportunities, creating business and fostering innovation. By doing all these, entrepreneurship processes shift the economy out of an equilibrium state, while creating new states (Greenfield and Strickson, 1981). Stevenson and Jarillo (1990) provided a decent review on a plethora of entrepreneurship studies across the world. Three main streams of research are presented. The first area of literature is concerned with the consideration of what happens when entrepreneurs act; or in other words, they study the net effect on the general economic system of the actions performed by entrepreneurs. Major scholars who contributed significantly to this area are, inter alia, Richard Cantillo (who first coined the term ‘entrepreneur’), Jean Baptiste Say, Adam Smith and Joseph Schumpeter. The second area of literature on entrepreneurship is concerned with why entrepreneurs act; or what the causes of entrepreneurship are. Naturally, entrepreneurs themselves have now become the subject of interest to economists. If the first area of literature draws attention mainly from economists, this attracts the attention of a large number of sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists as well. The first level of inquiry into the causes of entrepreneurial behavior, according to Stenvenson and Jarillo (1990), conceptualizes entrepreneurship as a...
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