Doi Moi in review: The challenges of building market socialism in Vietnam

Melanie Beresford*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)


Two decades ago the Vietnamese Communist Party embarked on a transformation from central planning towards a "socialist market economy under state guidance." It looked to East Asian development models, particularly the role of state enterprises (SEs), combined with the creation of a "civilised and equitable" society. The article argues that, in the case of SEs, the state's inability, especially under donor pressure, to provide crucial investment support to the SEs meant that foreign investors and the domestic non-state sector began to dominate the economic landscape. While state-led development remains feasible, it requires a clear and more authoritative industry policy; otherwise, the balance of interventionism could eventually tip towards cronyism. Further, the vagueness of the term "civilised and equitable" society leaves open both conformity with the post-Washington consensus and the possibility to achieve more aggressive redistributive measures, including redistribution of power. In practice, inclusion in and exclusion from successful public-private networks has been crucial for the capacity of individuals to participate in the rising prosperity of the market economy and has driven a process of rising regional inequality and the emergence of a new social class structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-243
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Contemporary Asia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


  • Distribution of income
  • East Asian development
  • Industry policy
  • Socialism
  • Transition economies


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