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Local Entrepreneurship in Vietnam’s Rural Transformation. A Case Study from the Mekong Delta


  • Benedikter, Simon
  • Waibel, Gabi
  • Birtel, Serge
  • Bui, Cuong The
  • Tran, Be Thanh


Empirical evidence from developing countries has illuminated the vital role private business development plays in rural transformation and the creation of off‐farm livelihoods. Since ‘renovation’ (Đổi mới) was promulgated by the Vietnamese Communist Party in 1986, Vietnam has experienced rapid growth and development through the transition from state to market. While de‐collectivization and the return to householdbased rural production reduced poverty and increased growth, entrepreneurship development in the form of Small and Medium Enterprises(SME) has emerged as a strong agent for socio‐economic diversification. The Mekong Delta, located in the Southwest of Vietnam, is a rural setting traditionally reliant on agriculture but has been facing rapid rural transformation over the past three decades. Against a background of agrarian modernization, economic liberalization, international integration and environmental change, this report explores the diversity of entrepreneurial activities and SME development in typical peri‐urban and rural settings of the region. Empirical findings on the trajectory of rural entrepreneurship development, enterprise characteristics, and the social profiles of business owners are presented. Beyond that, changes brought about by rural enterprises for livelihood diversification, social security and labor market dynamics are disaggregated and discussed by different business types and corresponding modus operandi (growth‐oriented vs. livelihood‐oriented enterprises). Finally, the results are contrasted with current government notions of promoting SMEs development as a driver of economic growth. Diverging from the government’s vision for boosting SME development in the context of rural industrialization, the large majority of private business establishments in the Mekong Delta are micro‐enterprises which operate at subsistence levels, while growth‐oriented SMEs remain the exception. Consequently, there is a need to reconsider policy formulation for more sustainability in the rural SME sector.

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  • Benedikter, Simon & Waibel, Gabi & Birtel, Serge & Bui, Cuong The & Tran, Be Thanh, 2013. "Local Entrepreneurship in Vietnam’s Rural Transformation. A Case Study from the Mekong Delta," MPRA Paper 49866, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:49866

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vijverberg, WimP. M. & Haughton, Jonathan, 2002. "Household enterprises in Vietnam : survival, growth, and living standards," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2773, The World Bank.
    2. Oostendorp, Remco H. & Trung, Tran Quoc & Tung, Nguyen Thanh, 2009. "The Changing Role of Non-Farm Household Enterprises in Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 632-644, March.
    3. World Bank, 2005. "Vietnam Business : Vietnam Development Report 2006," World Bank Other Operational Studies 8314, The World Bank.
    4. Frank Ellis, 1998. "Household strategies and rural livelihood diversification," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 1-38.
    5. Mead, Donald C. & Liedholm, Carl, 1998. "The dynamics of micro and small enterprises in developing countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 61-74, January.
    6. Stoyan Tenev & Amanda Carlier & Omar Chaudry & Quynh-Trang Nguyen, 2003. "Informality and the Playing Field in Vietnam's Business Sector," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15084.
    7. Akram-Lodhi, A.H., 2001. "Vietnam's agriculture: is there an inverse relationship?," ISS Working Papers - General Series 19096, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    8. Anna Folke Larsen & John Rand & Nina Torm, 2011. "Do Recruitment Ties Affect Wages? An Analysis using Matched Employer–Employee Data from Vietnam," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 541-555, August.
    9. Rand, John & Torm, Nina, 2012. "The Benefits of Formalization: Evidence from Vietnamese Manufacturing SMEs," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 983-998.
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    12. Jürgen Brünjes & Javier Diez, 2013. "‘Recession push’ and ‘prosperity pull’ entrepreneurship in a rural developing context," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(3-4), pages 251-271.
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    Cited by:

    1. Newman Carol & Kinghan Christina, 2015. "Economic transformation and the diversification of livelihoods in rural Viet Nam," WIDER Working Paper Series 064, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item


    Entrepreneurship development; SME; rural transformation; Mekong Delta; Vietnam;

    JEL classification:

    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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