Vietnam Development Forum (VDF) - Tokyo
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)

THE SECOND VDF-TOKYO CONFERENCE
ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF VIETNAM

GRIPS Campus, Saturday, 15 July 2006

CONFERENCE SUMMARY

by Giang Thanh Long, Pham Truong Hoang, Vu Tuan Khai and Nguyen Duc Thanh

As the annual activity to promote research and human networks for Vietnam, The Second VDF Tokyo Conference on the Development of Vietnam was held at the campus of National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo on Saturday, 15 July 2006. We welcomed about 60 participants from all over Japan, including professors, researchers, and Vietnamese people who are studying and working in Japan.

The Conference was begun by a welcoming speech from Mr. Giang Thanh Long (GRIPS & VDF Tokyo) with a brief introduction about the Conference schedule. Then Mr. Pham Truong Hoang (Yokohama National University & VDF Tokyo) made a review of VDF Tokyofs activities since its establishment. It was shown that VDF Tokyo had been actively cooperating with VDF Hanoi and many institutions in Vietnam, Japan, and other countries in implementing a variety of research activities, and expanding human networking over the years.

After that, in the main part of the Morning Session, we welcomed two prominent keynote speakers: Prof. Kenichi  Ohno (GRIPS Professor, and VDF Director), and Prof. David O. Dapice (Professor at Tuft University, and a Fellow of Vietnam Program in Harvard University). In his presentation, Prof. Ohno mentioned current status of industrial development in Vietnam, and proposed some policy directions for Vietnam to become a reliable partner of Japan in integral manufacturing. In his turn, Prof. Dapice talked about Doi moi in Vietnam, in which achievements and challenges in the future were analyzed thoroughly.

After  those two keynote speeches, we had 45-minute Q & A Session for the participants to exchange views with both Professors. 

In the Afternoon Session, we held two parallel sessions, i.e. Economics and Business, and Social Issues. The former was chaired by Prof. Kenichi Ohno, while the latter was chaired by Prof. Izumi Ohno.

In the Economics and Business Session, we welcomed three presenters. The first presenter was Mr. Le Anh Minh, a PhD student of Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University, Japan. He presented a macroeconometric model to evaluate macroeconomic policy in Vietnam. The second presenter was Mr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh (PhD), the Director of Research of Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He presented a model to evaluate the relationship between competition and privatization, and then analyzed the case of Vietnam. The last presentation was by Mr. Phan Chi Anh, a PhD candidate of International School of Social Sciences, Yokohama National University (YNU). He presented his co-authored paper with Prof. Yoshiki Matsui (YNU) on the impacts of ISO9000 on quality management and competitive performance of manufacturing companies in Vietnam.

At the same time, in the Social Issues Section, we also had three presenters. Associate Prof. Wade Pfau (GRIPS) was the first presenter. He presented his co-authored research with Mr. Giang Thanh Long (GRIPS & VDF Tokyo) on living arrangements of the elderly during economic transition in Vietnam. The second presenter was Mr. Tadashi Kikuchi (PhD), a lecturer of Keio University, Japan. His presentation was about performance evaluation of ODA projects, and Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi was used as the case study. Ms. Aiko Takai, a newly-graduated student of University of Amsterdam, was the last presenter of the Section. Her presentation focused on the stories behind the children working on the streets in Hanoi.

After all presentations, we gathered again to have a special session, in which all participants introduced themselves and their research interests. Many of them said that they highly appreciated the Conference, and they would like to participate in other activities of VDF in both Tokyo and Hanoi. On behalf of VDF Tokyo and the Conference Organizing Committee, Prof. Kenichi Ohno thanked all the participants, and he welcomed them to VDF in Tokyo and Hanoi for research and human networking. 

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Morning Session: Keynote Speakers

 

Keynote Speaker 1:

Prof. Kenichi Ohno (GRIPS Professor & VDF Director)

gIndustrial Policy Formulation of Vietnam: To Become a Reliable Partner in Integral Manufacturingh

Prof. Kenichi Ohno began his presentation by introducing VDF Hanoi and its current activities, particularly VDFfs support for industrial strategy formulation of the Ministry of Industry (MOI) of Vietnam. It was argued that, although Vietnam was making impressive achievements such as high economic growth and FDI acceleration, policy formulation still faced two fundamental problems, i.e. poor business linkage and lack of inter-ministerial coordination. Various examples were presented to support this argument. He also pointed out some differences between MOIfs common framework and VDFfs alternative ideas for drafting the motorbike master plan, which VDF was currently assisting.

Prof. Ohno indicated three major ways forward for Vietnam: (i) greatly improve marketing for FDI absorption without selectivity, (ii) strongly support Vietnamese companies to establish business relations with FDI firms or foreign buyers, and (iii) become a reliable partner of Japan by learning integral manufacturing. Vietnam could also learn lessons from successes and failures of industrial development policies in Thailand and Malaysia, and Vietnam needed to take China into account when making industrial policy. As a theoretical background, he presented the business architecture framework of Prof. Takahiro Fujimoto (Tokyo Univ.) which describes the difference between modular manufacturing and integral manufacturing, and partnership possibilities among countries with various architectural characteristics.

Prof. Ohno showed some reasons why Vietnam and Japan could become fruitful partners in integral manufacturing. According to him, Japan was an integral manufacturing economy which had high technology, high wages, and rapidly aging population. As highly skilled old labor force retire in droves beginning in 2007, Japan needed a reliable developing country partner with low wages, skilful labor force and young population. Vietnam--and Thailand--could become such a partner of Japanese integral manufacturing, once the above-mentioned fundamental policy problems were resolved and the nation began to focus on attaining necessary conditions. For this, two important requirements were industrial human resources and supporting industries. These were actually intertwined.

General discussion was started by Mr. Phan Chi Anh (YNU) with a question about concrete examples of integral manufacturing. Prof. Ohno replied that the automobile industry was a typical example as products were made of model-specific parts in continuous adjustments among assemblers and part producers, and a high-performing car in terms of style, power, balance, fuel efficiency, comfort, etc. could not be made without such interaction. He also pointed out that some countries tried to produce cars with modular processes but with little success so far. In sharp contrast, he noted that the computer industry was highly modular, in which performance of assembled products was guaranteed by globally common interface protocol among parts.

Mr. Pham Truong Hoang (YNU & VDF Tokyo) asked Prof. Ohno to give additional persuasive reasons, other than the ones already presented, for Vietnam to become a partner of Japan. Prof. Ohno responded that modular manufacturing might seem easy for Vietnam to follow at first, with low initial requirements in time, money and technology, but that would be the same for all developing countries. If Vietnam selected modular manufacturing, it would face excess competition, low price and profit, and no incentive or fund to upgrade technology, in a situation called gtechnology lock-in.h Particularly, it would be very difficult to compete directly with China, a gigantic modular manufacturer with ample funds, reasonable technology, and a massive supply of unskilled labor. Vietnam should avoid doing the same thing as China and look for niches. He believed that learning integral manufacturing would be the key in this. According to him, integral manufacturing would require patience but help Vietnam to improve technology in the long run. Strong commitments by both Vietnamese and Japanese governments, in close cooperation with the business sector, were needed to realize this goal.

Being concerned with technology transfers from Japan to Vietnam, Mr. Pham Viet Duc (YNU) wondered whether Japanese firms would really transfer high technology to Vietnamese firms when they became partners in integral manufacturing. Prof. Ohno responded that technology transfer really needed for Vietnam now was in the area of supporting industries such as die-and-mold, pressing, casting, injection, etc. and not the so-called ghigh technologyh such as biotech, nanotech or new materials. Our expectation must be realistic since few Japanese firms would teach their latest technology which had cost a lot of R&D money to others for free, and since few Vietnamese firms were ready to absorb and use such frontier technology. Prof. Ohno cited an example of FUTU1 Company in Thai Nguyen Province that could produce high-quality key metal components such as transmission gears for Japanese motorbike assemblers in Vietnam. But it took FUTU1 for many years to upgrade quality with the help of Yanmar at first, and later Honda. Through this integral learning, its products became competitive. He reiterated that there would be no future for Vietnamese firms if they just copied blueprints, purchased cheap parts and components in the market, and assembled them.

 

Keynote Speaker 2:

Prof. David O. Dapice (Tufts University & Vietnam Program, Harvard University)

gFear of Flying: Why is Sustaining Reform So Hard in Vietnam?h

In the second part of the morning session, we welcomed Prof. Dapice, who has been doing research on Vietnam for a long time. He also teaches at the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP) in Ho Chi Minh City.

His presentation started with an overview of Vietnamfs achievements after 20 years of Doi moi. According to Prof. Dapice, Vietnam had been one of the best-performing countries in the world to overcome numerous difficulties and gain great successes in economic and social aspects, such as high economic growth, substantial reduction of poverty, and impressive international trade records. In his presentation, there were four factors that contributed to those successes: (i) agricultural reforms and market-based price reforms, (ii) the new Enterprise Law, (iii) rapid and continuing growth of exports, particularly manufactured exports, and (iv) high level of information available to citizens, in the areas of free press and internet access.

However, he agreed with Prof. Ohno that, in order to continue these successes into the future and get better positioning in the global arena, Vietnam should have strong and efficient institutions, which were lacking in Vietnam in a number of areas. He additionally said that policy-making processes in Vietnam could be analyzed by the well-known principal-agent problem in economic theory. It meant that in some areas of the economy, policy makers paid attention to maximizing their own interests, not national interests, which in turn distorted their incentives and behaviors.

Prof. Dapice also gave some predictions on the Vietnamese economy in the next 20 years. First, exports would continue to grow, particularly when Vietnam joined WTO, which was expected before the end of this year. Second, there would be less concessional aid, reflecting the fact that Vietnam would no longer be a low-income country. Third, Vietnam would need more skilled labor, which depended on education system reform. He underlined that what was important would be software, not hardware, in renovating the education system in Vietnam. In other words, human resources were extremely crucial, and the success or failure of Vietnam would depend not on financial problems but on the attitude of people.

To show the current weaknesses in policy making, Prof. Dapice gave a few examples of wasteful public subsidies and investments in Vietnam. For example, the recent consideration of building a new international airport in Long Thanh, Dong Nai Province, was cited. According to his analysis, it would be too difficult to achieve alleged goals, which was to handle 80-100 million passengers a year and become a regional hub. The new airport would also create serious problems of debt burden and resource misallocation with a cost of about $4 billion or 10 percent of GDP only for the first phase, and $8-$10 billion when completed. Another example was government subsidies to Vinashin for securing shipbuilding orders from abroad. According to his data, this would also be quite wasteful. We must consider the fact that, in the gPost-WTOh period, inefficient operation of state enterprises would become a serious constraint on the economy and reduce Vietnamfs competitiveness. To deal with these issues, his advice was to improve the quality of local governments, which he called gbottom-up approachh. Provinces should compete with each other in attracting FDI and domestic investment by understanding the rules of global competition and upgrading business environment.

Sharing similar ideas with Prof. Ohno, he argued that Vietnam could grow at a higher rate than it did if we coped thoroughly with these problems. Decomposition of growth into various sources would help Vietnam know what was going on, and what needed to be done in order to sustain high growth. One of the most important factors that Prof. Dapice was concerned with was the labor market, which was suffering from the problem of brain drain, in which well-trained professional labor might not be treated well due or given proper opportunities due to numerous institutional constraints. He re-emphasized attitude of people as the crucial factor, which might help to change the current situation.

To conclude, Prof. Dapice mentioned some policy implications for better achievements. He called for: (i) improvement in the financial market, particularly the banking system, (ii) an efficient information system for the business sector, and effective channels between business associations and the government and, most important and challenging, (iii) reform of the education system.

 

Q & A for Prof. Kenichi Ohno & Prof. David Dapice

After two keynote presentations, we had about 45 minutes for questions and comments from participants.

Mr. Luu Hoai Son (GRIPS) asked Prof. Dapice to comment more on state investments in Vietnam. According to him, although the state sector was conducting about 75 percent of total investment, its rates of return were not high as most of the investments focused on non-profitable projects such as social infrastructure. In addition, Mr. Son said that some provinces were better than others in attracting foreign investment, and that might be due to their different perceptions of national goals. Prof. Dapice admitted that there were some socially justifiable public projects, but if we looked at state investments in general, we could see many projects that invested in wrong places with wrong amount of money. Distinguishing foreign and domestic investments, Prof. Dapice also stated that there were some provinces that could attract large amounts of foreign investment due to different characteristics, while domestic investment had generally been limited because of various not-so-explicit constraints imposed on them. This came from the policy of discouraging glegal, but undesirableh investment projects. The authoritiesf attitude on this needed to be changed.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Hai (Waseda University) asked Prof. Dapice to clarify concrete ways for Vietnam to continue to grow, and whether the ICT sector should be prioritized in the future. She also asked Prof. Dapice about his ideas on improving the educational system in Vietnam. Prof. Dapice responded that the ways to sustain growth depended on sectors or areas, and general prescription could not be given due to different characteristics among them. He admitted that he did not have a concrete answer on what sectors should be promoted, but he thought that markets, especially investors, would know what needed to be done. He also said that business sector and the government should cooperate in education policy in order to provide needed human resources for prospective sectors. He mentioned the Penang Skills Development Center in Malaysia as a good case, in which multinational corporations coordinated with the local government to decide what skills must be acquired by the workers, and implemented appropriate training programs to supply them. Continuing on the education policy, Prof. Dapice said that Vietnam should allow non-profit and private universities to compete with each other to find the best strategies for education and training. He gave an example of a college in Quang Nam Province, which focused on training tourism-related expertise in order to meet the increasing demand for tourism.

Prof. Ohno remarked that two serious institutional problems in Vietnam, which were also observed in other developing countries, were business-unfriendly government and policies on the one hand, and the rigid labor market that did not fully utilize existing talents, including professional people educated abroad who did not wish to return to previous positions in Vietnam. Additionally, Prof. Ohno said that we should work with not only with local governments as Prof. David approached, but also the central government in order to get better views of policy making. He pointed out some projects that VDF was doing as examples for such approach.

Comparing state and private sector development in Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Duc Thanh (GRIPS & VDF Tokyo) argued that, to promote private sector development, the only thing to be done was simply to stop supporting state-owned enterprises (SOEs). According to Prof. Ohno, however, such a view was a little too simplistic; Vietnam should adopt a double-track approach of promoting sound growth of private firms by introducing and enforcing international standards and frameworks such as fair trade, transparent books, pollution regulation, etc. on the one hand, and gradually eliminating inefficient SOEs on the other--but not all SOEs needed to be removed. Prof. Ohno thought that competitiveness mattered more than ownership form. Prof. Dapice added that there would be another danger if we stop supporting all SOEs now as it could create private monopoly, which might also cause a dire situation as seen in some neighboring countries. For him, serious restructuring and supervision of SOEs would be the way to tackle the problem of inefficient SOEs and, more importantly, improvements in the legal and financial systems would contribute greatly to creating a level playing field among private firms, and between private firms and SOEs. Agreeing with Prof. Ohno, he said that there would be no once-for-all solution.

Mr. Pham Viet Duc (YNU) raised a question to Prof. Ohno about concrete ways for Vietnam to become a reliable partner of Japan in integral manufacturing. Prof. Ohno responded that, to know what needed to be done, in general, Vietnamese firms should listen to foreign firms attentively. With Japanese firms, Vietnamese firms should understand their business philosophy, including the value of trust, long-term relationship, and various systems to ensure QCD (Quality-Cost-Delivery). If Vietnamese firms did so and made effort to become integral manufacturing partners, FDI would help them to export their products indirectly to the global market, as components of their final products. These points must be understood fully by policy makers as well. VDF was already working to fill the information gap between Japanese FDI firms and Vietnamese businesses and authorities through conducting a Japanese firm survey and publishing reports.

Continuing with the partnership issue, Mr. Phan Chi Anh (YNU) asked about the commitment on the Japanese side to help Vietnam to become its reliable partner. In his response, Prof. Ohno said that commitments from both sides were crucial, and VDF would strive to ensure that both sides would cooperate. He pointed to some ongoing cooperation between Japanese and local firms in the neighboring countries, for example, to encourage Japanese SMEs with high skills to invest in Thailand or upgrade die-and-mold industries in Indonesia. Prof. Dapice also added that Vietnam was absorbing investment from a large number of source countries, and could choose the best combination of sources, not only from Japan, for capital, knowledge, and technology. Moreover, when Vietnam learned certain skills and knowledge from those sources, it could do very well in the global economy. Choosing partners through understanding each otherfs requirements, as Prof. Ohno suggested, would call for strong interests of both sides, and it would be a good way too.

Going back Prof. Dapicefs presentation, Mr. Pham Truong Hoang (YNU & VDF Tokyo) wanted to hear more about the educational system in Vietnam as it seemed to Mr. Hoang that academic and practical knowledge of the developed world might not be applicable to Vietnam right now. He said that Vietnam was roughly in the same development stage as Taiwan in the 1970s, when a large supply of highly skilled workers was not yet needed. Ms. Pham Quynh Huong (University of Tokyo) echoed and said that it was difficult to apply knowledge from abroad to Vietnam directly, as Mr. Hoang mentioned, and acquired skills generally did not meet the demand of the Vietnamese economy. She wondered how institutions in Vietnam could be re-designed to encourage skills that were actually demanded, and also how top-class universities could be created in Vietnam despite the fact that no Vietnamese universities were ranked highly at present. In reply, Prof. Dapice said that incentives for excellence were low in the Vietnamese education system as professors received low salaries and were bound by curriculums and other rules imposed by the university or the Ministry of Education and Training. Since the global economy was changing fast, and since Vietnam was attracting a large volume of FDI, demand for skilled labor would surely rise in the future. As for top-class universities in Vietnam, Prof. Dapice said that there should be not only one good university, but a system of educational institutions that together could achieve global standards. He strongly felt that Vietnam needed to introduce a voucher system, in which students could choose universities and professors which best suited their demand. This would create competition and incentive for doing better in higher education. Local governments should also work effectively with industries so that demand for needed skills would be realized. In other words, Vietnam should use the power of consumers to reform education.

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Afternoon Session: Presentations

 

ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS SESSION (Room 4A)

The Economics and Business Session was chaired by Prof. Kenichi Ohno. The first presentation was by Mr. Le Anh Minh of Nagoya University. The second was by Mr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh from the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP) in HCMC. Mr. Phan Chi Anh of Yokohama National University (YNU) was the last presenter of the session.

 

Presentation 1: Mr. Le Anh Minh (Nagoya University)

gMacroeconomic Policy Analysis of Vietnam: A Macroeconometric Model Approachh

The objective of this research was to analyze the impacts of macroeconomic policy on the Vietnamese economy in the transition period. The presentation began with an overview of the Vietnamese economic performance and economic policy tools after the implementation of the Doi moi process. He showed that, in order to stabilize the economy at the beginning of transition, both tight fiscal and monetary policies were adopted. Caution was exercised in conducting exchange rate policy, which allowed VND to devalue modestly and gradually. A brief description of the economyfs progress during the period 1986-2003 was presented.

The author proceeded to the major part of his presentation which showed a macro-econometric model of Vietnam. Data employed in his model were annual macro data collected from various sources, and Eview 4.0 was the software used. Due to the limited number of observations, Seemingly Unrelated (SUR) estimation technique was adopted. This approach allowed the author to at first estimate seven single equations, which reflected major macro behaviors of the economy. The SUR model was then applied to estimate a system of equations. To illustrate the prediction capacity of the model, two concrete cases were mentioned. The first was to estimate effects of a fiscal expansion policy, where government investment was assumed to increase by 5%. In this case, there would be 0.31% increase in output and almost 2% increase in investment of domestic firms, while the price level would rise slightly. The second simulation was a 5% devaluation of VND, in which output was predicted to increase by 0.27% while the price level would raise about 4.5%.

Mr. Nguyen Duc Thanh (GRIPS & VDF Tokyo) started free discussion by taking issues with the authorfs view that the Vietnamese economy slowed down after the Asian financial crisis. Mr. Thanh argued that in reality the economy already shown signs of slowdown in 1996, one year before the crisis, and emphasized that it was supply side factors which influenced the economy at that time. Mr. Minh explained that he was concerned with the demand-side effect of the crisis, and believed that the crisis led to a significant reduction in foreign investment at that time. Prof. David Dapice shared a view that both supply and demand sides affected the economy at that moment. Concerning the first simulation results from the research, Ms. Bui Thi Thu (Hitotsubashi University) questioned its meaning. She was cautious about a policy of increasing governmentfs investment and its expected consequences. Mr. Pham Viet Duc (YNU) said that a large amount of remittances flowed into the economy recently, and asked whether the model captured this fact. Mr. Tran Duy Dong (Hitotsubashi University) discussed some ways to improve the empirical works of this research.

 

Presentation 2: Mr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh (FETP, HCMC)

gCompetition and Privatization in Vietnam: Substitutes or Complements?h

The second presentation was by Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh. His paper explored the relationship between privatization and competition policies in the governmentfs policy mix in a transition economy.

The author explained the current debate in identifying the relationship between the two policies, both of which were essential in transforming a central planned economy to a market-oriented one. There was so far no clear-cut conclusion whether these policies were substitutable or complementary. He also reviewed the process of introducing privatization and competition in Vietnam. Privatization had undergone at least two different stages, while competition pressure continuously evolved with the recent approval of the Competition Law as a landmark.

To analyze the problem, the author introduced a model based on the Dixit-Stiglitz model of monopolistic competition. In terms of ownership the marginal cost of production of private firms was assumed to be lower than that of SOEs (due to the inherent inefficiency of the latter), while the fixed cost of the former was higher than the latter (due to asymmetric treatment of the two sectors). Competition policy was assumed, by the intention of the government, to reduce the gaps between both marginal and fixed costs of the two sectors. The results heavily depended on the type of government, or on the real objective behind governmentfs action. The model was able to point out that a rent-seeking government would not be willing to privatize profitable SOEs, and tend to increase the costs of private firms, whereas a benevolent government would treat two sectors equally and tend to privatize all the SOEs. In the latter case, privatization and competition polices were certainly complementary.

In the discussion section, Mr. Pham Viet Duc (YNU) asked about the Competition Law in Vietnam and its real enforcement. Some other participants argued that the concept of gefficiencyh - an important term used throughout this research - could be defined from different aspects such as output, productivity or welfare.

 

Presentation 3: Mr. Phan Chi Anh (Yokohama National University)

gQuality Management and Competitive Performance: An Empirical Evidence of Impact of ISO 9000 in Vietnamese Manufacturing Companiesh (with Prof. Yoshiki Matsui, International School of Social Sciences, Yokohama National University)

In his turn, Mr. Phan Chi Anh presented his paper co-authored with Prof. Yoshiki Matsui, who was also present.

ISO 9000 quality management system (QMS) standard was established in 1987 and had been quickly popularized worldwide, in spite of its implementation costs. In Vietnam, ISO 9000 implementation had been strengthened since 1995. The current study aimed to explore the relationship between ISO 9000 QMS and business performance in the Vietnamese manufacturing companies. Mr. Anh also gave an analysis of benefits as well as difficulties in implementing ISO 9000. For these, the authors conducted a survey on 125 ISO 9000-certified Vietnamese manufacturing companies in 2003-2004. The research showed that companies highly appreciated the benefits of ISO 9000, particularly in leveling up gWork Procedureh and gResponsibility and Authority.h There were, however, also many difficulties in implementing ISO 9000, in which gMaintain Incoming Qualityh and gControl Non-conformitiesh would be the most difficult. The authors also used the results from another survey on 38 Vietnamese manufacturing companies with 116 respondents of the firmsf managers was carried out in 2005-2006 in order to investigate the impacts of ISO 9000 on business performance. The regression results indicated strong impact of ISO 9000 on internal business process performance, moderate impact on customer and market performance and finance performance, and little impact on development, learning and innovation performance. It was recommended that future methods of quality management in manufacturing firms in Vietnam should be ISO 9000 plus other methods such as 5S, Kaizen, or QC 7 tools. The authors also suggested a necessity of linking QMS with other systems such as human resource management, Just-in-time, and technology development and Information management.

Several questions and comments were raised by participants. The first comment was on the sample size. According to Prof. Ohno and Dr. Hasashi Kono (Institute of Developing Economies), 38 samples for 3 industries (i.e. transportation, mechanical-machinery, and electrical-electronic) were too small. Prof. Ohno and Prof. Dapice also considered that the questionnaire was not sufficient to identify causal relationships from ISO acquisition to performance, or vice versa. Therefore, the results should be interpreted as showing only correlation between ISO and firm performance. Prof. Ohno additionally said that ISO might be used mainly as an advertising tool. This point was also shared by Dr. Kono (IDE) and Mr. Junichi Mori (VDF Tokyo). To have better understanding of cause and effect, Prof. Ohno suggested a comparative study about firm performance before and after ISO 9000 implementation. Mr. Le Anh Minh (Nagoya University) wondered if the modelfs fit was too low with R-squared of 60-70%. Prof. Dapice asked about implications of the findings for companies. Mr. Nguyen Viet Ha (Panasonic Mobile Communications) was skeptical about the firmsf ability for dynamic innovation when workers were constrained by excessive regulations of ISO 9000. Mr. Pham Truong Hoang (YNU & VDF Tokyo) recommended that ISO 9000 could be considered as ghardwareh for quality management. The long-term efficiency of quality management also relied on gsoftware,h which could be understood as workersf attitude and behavior.

Regarding the small sample size, Mr. Anh admitted that the research budget did not allow to expand the sample size. According to his interviews with managers, there were many reasons for firms to implement ISO 9000, and advertising was certainly one of them. He also indicated that, before the implementation of ISO 9000, firms had neither a system of quality management or related documents. That fact prevented a comparative study about quality-related performances before and after the implementation of ISO 9000. On the fit of the regression model, he responded that R-squared in the paper was not bad if we compared it with other studies, which had similar sample sizes but R-squared was sometimes lower than 30%. For the implications of the results, Mr. Anh stated that the findings could be useful for private companies which were building their manufacturing capabilities. With regards to the role of ISO 9000, he emphasized the positive impacts of ISO 9000 on firmsf process management, which in turn might lead to quality improvement. This point was also supported by Mr. Mori and Mr. Hoang.

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SOCIAL ISSUES SESSION  (Room 4B)

The Social Issues Session was chaired by Prof. Izumi Ohno. The session welcomed Prof. Wade Pfau from GRIPS as the first presenter. The second presenter was Mr. Tadashi Kikuchi, Lecturer of Keio University. The last presenter was Ms. Aiko Takai, a newly-graduated student of University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

 

Presentation 1: Associate Prof. Wade Pfau (GRIPS)

hLiving Arrangements of the Vietnamese Elderly during Economic Transitionh (with Giang Thanh Long)

Prof. Wade Pfau (GRIPS) presented his research with Mr. Giang Thanh Long (GRIPS & VDF Tokyo) on the living arrangements of the Vietnamese elderly during economic transformation, which was based on four Vietnam (Household) Living Standard Surveys. Motivation for doing this research was related to the interest in non-contributory pension scheme for the elderly people, which required information on the current status of the elderly. He focused on two out of six listed major issues in the presentation, i.e. living arrangements and poverty status of the elderly people.

In the first part of presentation, Prof. Pfau reviewed existing literature on living arrangements of the elderly in Vietnam and some other regional countries. Although the existing studies used different datasets and surveys, they found very similar results of living arrangements of the elderly in Vietnam such as they had preference of living with married sons, which was the same as Chinese counterparts. However, the current research could further classify the elderly with different positions within the household, and obtain more information about poverty status of the elderly. The advantages and limitations of the current dataset were explained. Surveys used provided comprehensive data on various aspects of living arrangements that were useful for research. At the same time, some interesting indicators such as relatives in household were not contained.

The results from estimation showed that Vietnamese population was aging modestly, as seen by an increasing percentage of the elderly, and the number of living-alone elderly was increasing over time. One interesting finding was that the elderly as defined to be 60 and over might be too young. The age threshold should be higher since people at 55-60 and 60-65 had the lowest poverty rates, as well as high labor force participation rates. In term of living arrangements, the results also indicated that familial relations in Vietnam were still strong, despite fast social and economic changes. The elderly were not simply dependents; they were often active contributors to household income. However, one of the emerging issues was that benefits from social welfare programs such as pension accounted for a small part of elderly householdfs income, and the elderly relied mostly on other sources. This fact indicated that the elderly might face difficulties once they could not get any support from family. Policy implication was that an efficient social safety net must be in place in order to help the elderly in dire situations.

The discussion was begun by Prof. Masahira Anesaki (Daiichi Welfare University) who asked about the influence of Confucianism in Vietnamese families. In addition, Prof. Anesaki also suggested the authors to divide the elderly into different age subgroups to get more information. For instance, people aged from 60 to 65 could be defined as young elderly, and then 65-75 and 75+ could be classified as older elderly, and oldest elderly, respectively. As for the first question, Mr. Long admitted that the study did not consider Confucianism directly, but he personally thought that Confucianism was stronger in the North than in the South, which could be explained by the fact that the North was more heavily influenced by Chinese culture. For the second comment, both authors thanked Prof. Anesaki for his idea, and they thought that it would be useful for their research on poverty and gender issues of the Vietnamese elderly.

Ms. Aiko Takai (from Nagoya City) wondered whether influences of Confucianism depended upon the social classes. Mr. Long again confirmed that the topic was not covered in the presentation, and he would like to talk with researchers who were specialized in the field, in order to get precise responses.

Dr. Hisashi Kono (Institute of Developing Economies) said that there were many migrant workers in big cities like Hanoi and HCMC, and most of them were young and elderly women. He wondered if these people were covered in the research. Moreover, he also wanted to know more clearly about the definition of familial relations, and whether remittances could become an indicator of relations. In response to the first question, Mr. Long said that the authors used V(H)LSS data to study the elderly, and thus the elderly mentioned by Dr. Kono were not in the sample, and they would need to have another survey for such elderly. For the second question, Prof. Pfau said that the current research treated remittances separately from familial relations, and the latter was proxied by household living arrangements. He additionally said that remittances would be a good topic for further study, and they would conduct another research with some regression models for that purpose. Mr. Vu Tuan Khai (YNU) agreed with that response.

From University of Tokyo, Ms. Sakuya Nose said that she was interested in the pension scheme in Vietnam, and she would be glad if the authors could provide some information. Mr. Long responded that VDF had one discussion paper on the pension scheme of Vietnam, which could be a reference for her. However, he also added that the current pension scheme in Vietnam covered a small part of population as well as the elderly, and therefore social insurance had to be expended and made more effective.

 

Presentation 2: Mr. Tadashi Kikuchi (Lecturer, Keio University)

hSeeking Effective Performance, Minimum Cost, and Good Official Development Assistance (ODA) Performance Evaluation: A Case Study of Bach Mai Hospital, Vietnamh

In his presentation, Mr. Kikuchi tried to answer a series of questions: Do donors really enjoy providing ODA? Can Vietnam receive a large amount of ODA in the future? Why does the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) not mention GNP? Which economic actors play the main role for development? Who benefits from ODA?

Development strategies in the past and future, and the main contents of MDGs, were briefly reviewed. Then, relationship among economic growth, nourishment, and aid dependency in the world was explained. Using the data from World Development Indicators (WDI) 2003, the author showed the negative correlation between GDP growth and ODA dependency, and the positive relationship between the under-nutrition ratio to GDP and ODA dependency for four main developing regions, i.e. Eastern Europe, Central Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, and the Middle East and North Africa. Based on two indicators of the under-nutrition ratio to GDP and economic growth, he classified the above four regions and compared their characteristics.

Mr. Kikuchi moved on to the case of Vietnam, in which he showed that Vietnam was an outlier in the world in the sense that its GDP grew very fast in the 1990s in comparison with its nutrition condition. In other words, he argued that the nutrition condition in Vietnam did not improve as much as economic growth. He then raised the question of how to narrow that gap, and what strategies of ODA would be suitable for Vietnam. Finally, the case study of Bach Mai Hospital was presented, in which a staff-training project of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) took place. From the descriptive statistics, the author hypothesized that the educational cost per additional trainee might decrease as the knowledge of managers was transferred to other counterparts and junior staff through face-to-face learning in the training course. He tested this hypothesis by using an econometric method. He concluded that the ratio of staff to managers was one of the tools to check the extent of improvement of project performance, and ODA projects should be require the leader to perform his or her role efficiently.

In discussion, Prof. Masahira Anesaki (Daiichi Welfare University) raised the case of Japanfs ODA in the Caribbean countries, in which many wasteful incidents were observed (e.g. toilets were built with anti-earthquake specification like in Japan, in places where there were no earthquakes) due to the lack of careful cost and design considerations. He asked why the author chose the factor of leadership in his study, but not such factors as cost or design. Mr. Kikuchi responded that leadership was the topic he wanted to investigate, but other factors could also influence the result. Mr. Giang Thanh Long (GRIPS & VDF Tokyo) pointed out some typos, and commented that the organization of his paper was somewhat difficult to follow, e.g. what was the linkage between the nutrition level and SARS. There were also comments from Prof. Pfau (GRIPS) and Dr. Kono (IDE) that the relationship between GDP growth and the ratio of under-nutrition to GDP might not be linear as assumed by the author, and the author should be more careful in causality and scale effect problems. Mr. Kikuchi admitted to these problems, and said that he would consider them in the next step of the study. At the end, Prof. Izumi Ohno commented on the presented data and said the situation in some regions outside East Asia, with high aid-dependency and low economic growth, could suggest some causes as well as policy implications for ODA that needed to be studied more thoroughly.

Mr. Kikuchi thanked all participants for their comments and suggestions. He would like to exchange results again with them after revising the study.

 

Presentation 3: Ms. Aiko Takai (University of Amsterdam)

hBetween Nurturing and Nurtured Childhood: Children Working on the Streets in Hanoih

Being interested in children working on the streets in Hanoi, Ms. Aiko Takai from Nagoya shared information on the issue and exchanged views with the participants. Her presentation was based on her completed Master Thesis at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Ms. Takai began with the background of her study. She wanted to understand the widening gap between nurtured and nurturing childhood of children under globalization, and how they were reinforced by greinventedh Confucian tradition. Then, she reviewed definitions by international organizations such as UNICEF. She also described data and methodology. She had face-to-face interviews with 15 children working in the streets in Hanoi.

The first part of the results compared the real lives of rich and poor children through some indicators such as physical appearance and expected role as workers or learners. There were significant differences between nurtured (rich) and nurturing (poor) children. For instance, the rich children were not producers but consumers, while the poor children experienced gpovertyh from the early age, and they brought most earnings to support the family. The second part focused on the role Confucian tradition and explored tensions that nurturing and nurtured children were facing. The analysis from the authorfs interviews showed three major tensions for the nurturing children, i.e. government policies to the children working on the streets, their parentsf expectations, and tension with rich children. The analysis showed that the reinvented Confucianism oppressed poor children and prevented them from having unrealistic or unattainable dreams.

To conclude, Ms. Takai emphasized that gstreet childrenh was a label, which was wrongly equated with a social phenomenon, and childhood was different from one to one. Under social and economic tension, they needed to be protected, and the socio-cultural background in creating working children on the streets also needed to be considered. 

Prof. Masahira Anesaki (Daiichi Welfare University) started the discussion by asking Ms. Aiko to provide definition of gstreet childrenh as he could observe many kinds of children working in the streets. In her response, Ms. Takai said that she did not use the term gstreet childrenh in her research because it might be misleading; instead, she used the term gchildren working in the streetsh as it could reflect more closely to the ones in her interviews. However, she thanked Prof. Anesaki for his comment, and said that she would explore more definitions in her future research.

In addition, Prof. Anesaki shared his information about ethnic minority working children that he met in Vietnam, and he wondered what would happen to them. Ms. Takai said that she also met such children, but they were not in her research, and it would be good to take them into account for a deeper analysis.

From VDF Hanoi, Ms. Duong Kim Hong sent comments and questions about the presentation to Ms. Takai. According to her comments, there was a variety of reasons that children had to work, and one of them was that their families were too poor. Contrarily, some children liked to work, even though they were not responsible for supporting their families. Therefore, it might be difficult to use Confucian tradition to explain about children working in the streets. In addition, Ms. Hong would like to know the definition of grichh and gpoorh children that Ms. Takai mentioned in the presentation. In her reply, Ms. Takai said that there would be some limitations from the research as the number of interviewed children was too small, and what she mentioned in the presentation was from broader analysis, which was partly based on those interviews. She also said that she would discover other aspects so that we could understand more about their lives and hidden stories. She would like to work more with VDF on the issue since VDF already had one publication, which was closely related to her research interest.

Mr. Giang Thanh Long (GRIPS & VDF Tokyo) provided some comments and information related to Ms. Takaifs presentation. Additionally to the question by Ms. Hong, he asked about the localities that the interviewed children came from and worked because that was one factor that influenced why and how they worked on the street. He also said that, based on previous studies including VDFfs, street children working in different regions, e.g. Hanoi and HCMC, would have different consumption behaviors, and thus their support to family also varied. Studying why they worked in certain location might help to explore the nature of economic tension. Ms. Takai said that information was again lacking due to the small sample, and most of the interviewed children were from northern provinces and could not be generalized to the entire country.  She thought that it would be useful to have interview results with children from HCMC as well.

As a visiting research fellow at GRIPS Development Forum (GDF), Ms. Chikako Oka (London School of Economics and Political Science) raised a question about a possible contradiction between reinvented Confucian thought and the wish of children to get involved in business as Ms. Takai found in her interviews. Moreover, she wanted to see comparative studies on Confucian thought among countries if possible. Ms. Takai replied that, to the best of her knowledge, there were only a limited number of research on street children that focused on Confucian thought, and there might be no comparative studies on the issue. To illustrate a wish to start a business among street children, she gave an example from her interviews, where a boy wanted to get business for numerous reasons, including his social status in peoplefs eyes. However, she also admitted that it would be difficult to have concrete conclusion from such a small sample.

Being interested in this social issue in Vietnam, Mr. Hoang Van Phuong (Hitotsubashi University) commented that the Vietnamese government provided various supports to street children and their families such as free tuition fees. Those supports, however, could not solve the problem completely, particularly in the rural areas due to severe poverty. He would like to know Ms. Takaifs ideas about policy. Ms. Takai agreed that school supports would be helpful, but children and their families must pay much money for continuing to go to school such as buying books. Children often had to drop out to help their family. She said that it was difficult to prescribe perfect policies to deal with the problem, and it also required coordination among many organizations.

At the end of the presentation, Ms. Takai thanked all the participants for useful comments, and she would be glad if participants could send her more comments. She also planned to work with VDF on the issue.

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Some More Photos

Reception with assistance from
Vietnamese students of GRIPS

Welcoming participants
Welcoming speech (Mr. Long) Presenting VDF activities (Mr. Hoang )
Prof. Ohno's presentation Prof. Dapice's presentation
Both Professors responding to questions... ... and the participants listening with great interests
Various publications in display... ... and many one-page presentations
to exchange research information
One-page presentation One-page presentation
Still many questions... ... and discussions, though it was lunch time
Networking.... ... and friendship
Afternoon with Business & Economics Session... ... and Social Issues Session

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