Management style in Vietnam

Vietnam has a deep cultural heritage, which has been developed over 4000
years. In general, the Vietnamese people are hospitable (friendly) and industrious
(hard-working). In particular, people in the north of the country are characterised
as politically sensitive, hard working and risk avoiders (Quang, 1977; Ralston et
al., 1999). The northern part of Vietnam was strongly influenced by the Chinese
culture due to a 1000 year period of dominance of the Chinese feudalism. In
addition, Vietnam and China have been part of the socialist camp for many
The history and geographic vicinity (closeness) meant that Vietnamese
people share many of the cultural and business practices of their Chinese
neighbours. In the words of Hofstede (1980), the Vietnamese culture can be
described as high power distance, high collectivism, moderate uncertainty
avoidance, and high context (societies or groups where people have close
connections over a long period of time) (Swierczek, 1994, Quang, 1997; Ralston et
al., 1999).
The high power distance characteristic is present in the daily life of
Vietnamese as well as in business. In organisations, there is a clear subordinate-
superior relationship. Titles, status, and formality are very important in Vietnamese
Collectivism has existed for a very long time in Vietnam. It is characterised
by tight social frameworks and self-functioning communities. People expect ‘in
groups’ to look after their members to protect them, and provide them with
security in return for their loyalty.

Vietnamese people place importance on fitting in harmoniously (free from
disagreement) and avoiding losing the other’s face. In conflicts, they prefer to
come out with a win-win situation. Vietnamese culture displays moderate
uncertainty avoidance. People in society feel threatened by ambiguous situations
and try to avoid these situations by providing greater job stability, establishing
more formal rules, and rejecting deviant (departing from usual or accepted
standards) ideas and behaviour. One of the distinctive features in the Vietnamese
society is indirect speech, resulting from the importance of saving face. In
compensation, the Vietnamese have a very good sense of humour that surfaces
often in every opportunity and conversation.

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