Variations and Flexibility in Human Resource Practices in Vietnam:
A Comparison of State-Owned Enterprises, Cooperatives, and Private Firms

Stephen J. Appold
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore
11 Arts Link
Singapore 117570
John D. Kasarda
Kenan-Flagler Business School
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-3440

Several observers of restructuring economies have claimed that state-owned enterprises are stodgy.  State-owned enterprises are held to be unwilling or unable to respond to the dramatic changes in their operating environments brought about by the recent macroeconomic developments.  The empirical basis for that contention is, however, very narrow.  Using data on approximately 260 medium and large state-owned enterprises, cooperatives, and private firms operating in the manufacturing sector, we investigate the degree of difference in the way each type of organization uses and organizes labor.  We compare the distribution of individuals across jobs and employment status (permanent and temporary), the organizational structures, and the degree to which employees and others participate in management decisions.  We also measure the degree to which quasi-governmental organizations, such as the Party, become actively involved in operational decisions.  Retrospective data allows us to measure the degree of organizational flexibility.  We conclude by speculating on the future role of each type of organization in Vietnam's economy.


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