Issues and Challenges in the Establishment of Continuous Improvement in Vietnam

Phuong Anh Nguyen


A better understanding of Vietnamese management is important for both practitioners and academics because of the huge and continuing growth of business activity in Vietnam. In particular, information about the Vietnamese use of continuous improvement (CI) practices is valuable because these have underpinned the success of both western and Asian companies in recent decades. Using the case-study method based on over 60 in-depth interviews with executives, managers, supervisors, and employees of nine leading companies in Vietnam and information gathered from discussions with 440 business and non-business leaders, practitioners, and academics, this paper shows that Vietnamese organizations face numerous challenges when implementing and sustaining CI practices. The findings highlight the tendency of Vietnamese organizations to pursue “shortcut” strategies that prevent them from competing higher up the value-added chain. Maintaining “face” is vital to the Vietnamese and this is a major cultural challenge for organizations in their CI efforts. The paper recommends that Vietnamese organizations address these challenges by pursuing CI more aggressively and investing in human resource development to build capabilities for the future. The Vietnamese government, which is the main engine of change in the country, should promote the use of CI by funding education and training in its methods.


Lean production, quality management’ suggestion systems, Vietnamese management.

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