UK Vietnamese Businesses: Cultural Influences and Intra-cultural Differences

Bagwell, Sue (n.d.) UK Vietnamese Businesses: Cultural Influences and Intra-cultural Differences. Unknown. (Unpublished)


Current UK policy views the encouragement of enterprise by Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities as a key strategy of both its social inclusion and competitiveness agenda. However the evidence suggests that the take-up of business support by these groups is very limited, and recent research has argued for the need for more culturally sensitive provision and a better understanding of the diverse needs of different BME groups. This paper reports on a study of first and second-generation Vietnamese businesses in London designed to explore traditional cultural influences on business practice. The results suggest that, as with many other ethnic groups, attitudes towards the family, trust, and language have a key impact on the start-up and operation of the businesses. However, this study suggests that the ways in which these three factors impinge on business practice vary between the older first generation (the original “boat people”), the UK educated second-generation, and younger more recent immigrants, and is also mediated by sectoral influences, the pressures of the market place and the degree of family involvement in the business. In particular 2nd generation and recent immigrants were less likely to adopt traditional collectivist approaches to the running of their business compared with the first generation, but their business practice was still often influenced by strong family loyalties. The paper argues that theories of ethnic minority enterprise that advocate a mixed embeddedness approach need to incorporate an historical dimension. The findings emphasize the need for enterprise support policy to take account not only of inter-cultural differences, but also the intra-cultural differences that exist within different ethnic minority groups. The paper makes a number of suggestions as to how policy and practice should be adapted accordingly.

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