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Department of Economics

Ms Christine Ngoc Ngo

BA (UC Santa Cruz), MSc (SOAS), JD (UC Hastings)


Christine Ngoc, Ngo
Ms Christine Ngoc Ngo
Email address:
Thesis title:
Technology Adoption in Rent-seeking Economies: The Case of Vietnam
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

Although Vietnam has achieved high rates of economic growth over two decades and attained middle-income status in 2008, much of the country’s economic structural changes do not appear to address its underlying political conflicts, pervasive market failures, or speculative investment activities, and increasingly robust global competition. In assessing Vietnam’s industrial failures and successes, this research project starts by asking: What are the key political and institutional processes that shaped the structure of incentives and pressure for technological adoption and capability-building in the Vietnamese industrial sector since the country’s economic 1986 reform known as Doi Moi? This thesis uses the current literature on rents and rents-seeking to develop a new analytical framework that I call developmental rent management analysis (DRMA), which examines Vietnam’s industrial transformation in the telecommunications, textile and garment, and motorcycle industries. The empirical evidence for this study is primarily based on 68 semi-structured interviews with government officials, firm managers, workers, and industry experts.

My investigation provides a new and nuanced analysis of the development of Vietnam’s industrial sector. On the one hand, the textile and garment industry provides a unique case of limited industrial progress, which is based largely on Vietnam’s low-paid and low-skilled workforce. On the other hand, the telecom industry offers insights to the making of a successful industrialised sector. This success can be explained partly by a long period of protection by the government, effective rents management, and credible threats of foreign competition. The motorcycle industry, in contrast to both industries, imparts a distinct example of the Vietnamese government’s failure to implement learning rents for technological upgrading. However, market competition among Japanese and Chinese manufacturers led to significant technical learning and capability-building for local firms.

Although there was not one fixed successful configuration of rent management that worked in all three industries, a successful synthesis comprises a cluster of factors including, although not exclusive to, (1) the political will and/or competition among political and economic interests that support the formal and informal development of the sectors, (2) effective formal and informal institutional structures of rent allocation and implementation, (3) incentives for profits and pressure from market competition, (4) effective time horizon and (5) the initial capability of firms and workers to be receptive to learning new technologies and skills, and gaining expertise. This thesis concludes by asking how, in light of the following chapters, we can understand industrial development and its relationship with rents and rent management. The finding of this research shed light on the types of rent strategies that are beneficial to further Vietnam’s development.

PhD Publications

Under Review
  • Ngo, Christine. “Industrialization and the Triangular Rent-seeking Relationship between Vietnam, Japan and China in Vietnam’s Motorcycle Industry.” Asian Economic Journal.
Paper Presented
  • Ngo, Christine. “Technology Upgrading in Vietnam’s Motorcycle Industry from the Political Economy Perspective of Rents and Rent Seeking.” Delivered at the Second “Engaging with Vietnam: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue” Conference, Vietnam National University and Monash University, Ha Noi, Vietnam, November 30 and December 1, 2010.
Papers in Progress
  • Ngo, Christine. “Assessing Industrial Policy in Developing Countries: A Proposed Alternative Analytical Framework.” [Draft Available]
  • Ngo, Christine. “Industrial Policy and the State in Export-Led Growth Regime: A Literature Review.” [Draft Available]
  • Ngo, Christine. “The China Factor in Developing an Export Oriented Textile-Garment Industry in Vietnam.”
  • Ngo, Christine. “Industrial Success in the Telecom Industry in Vietnam: Rent Seeking, Capability Building or Luck.”
  • Ngo, Christine. “Political Settlement as Cause and Effect in Vietnam’s Industrial Development.”
  • Ngo, Christine. “Reformation of Vietnam’s State-Owned-Enterprises under the Pressure of Trade and Market Liberalization Paradigm”
  • Ngo, Christine. “ ‘State versus Market’ Debate and New Evidences from Vietnam’s Industrialization”


Development economics, political economy, industrialization, rents & rent seeking, governance reform agenda, international trade & foreign direct investment, international public law, constitutional law, Vietnam and the Asia Pacific economies.