Leadership in Vietnamese state owned enterprises (SOEs)

Dong Mai Tran (International School of Business, University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Wayne Fallon (University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Margaret H. Vickers (School of Business, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration

ISSN: 1757-4323

Publication date: 4 April 2016



The purpose of this paper is to explore multiple stakeholders’ perceptions of leadership in Vietnamese state-owned enterprises (SOEs).


The paper presents findings from semi-structured interviews that were conducted in Vietnam, with seven different stakeholders who had varying understandings of Vietnamese business leadership within the Vietnamese business context. All interviews were transcribed, then translated into English, and thematic analysis of the interview data undertaken.


The paper suggests that there was a significant variation in Vietnamese leadership perceptions when compared to Western leadership practices, especially when considering the perceptions of those stakeholders with regard to business leadership in the Vietnamese collectivist cultural context. The themes presented include: SOE decision making and responsibility; SOE promotions and appointments; and SOE performance.

Research limitations/implications

In the absence of studies of leadership in Vietnamese SOEs, and leadership studies in the Vietnamese culture in general, this research was deliberately exploratory and qualitative. Future mixed methods or quantitative studies are recommended to offer more generalizable conclusions.

Practical implications

Implications are discussed that point to leadership changes in Vietnamese organizations, and at the individual level, to assist the Vietnamese government, SOEs, and future leaders. Recommendations are also made that are intended to assist foreign business investors and multinational companies operating in Vietnam, now and in the future, to improve their leadership capacity within this context.

Social implications

Vietnam is a country in social and economic transition. Understanding the leadership practices and perceptions, especially how that might differ from leadership in Western nations, is critical for the success of organizations in Vietnam and, in turn, for the economic and social prosperity of the Vietnamese people.


The paper contributes perceptions of business leadership in Vietnamese SOEs that have not previously been explored and should be, especially given this critical time of economic and social transition for the Vietnamese nation and economy.



Financial support for this research is gratefully acknowledged from University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and the University of Western Sydney, Australia.


Tran, D., Fallon, W. and Vickers, M. (2016), "Leadership in Vietnamese state owned enterprises (SOEs)", Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 21-36. https://doi.org/10.1108/APJBA-10-2014-0116

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