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Globalisation, Corporate Social Responsibility and Multinational Corporations in Vietnam: Case Studies of Three Food and Beverage Multinational Corporations in South Vietnam

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posted on 2024-06-19, 21:51 authored by Le Dong Hau Pham
In the global economy, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an important topic related to global sustainable development. The concepts and the practices of CSR manifest as forms of socio-cultural globalisation in their worldwide adoption. CSR means that companies commit to contributing to the development of the local community in which they have their operations, and offer benefits to their stakeholders. Although CSR is more widely embraced in developed countries, the social and environmental responsibilities of business are becoming important issues in developing countries. However, to date, there exists only limited research on CSR programs and their reception in developing countries, particularly the CSR activities of multinational corporations (MNCs). The aim of the research reported in this thesis was to investigate the CSR programs of MNCs in the context of Vietnam’s entry into the global economic system over the last four decades. Particular attention was paid to the attitudes of the general staff of MNCs, and senior managers at NGOs and local governments, as well as business students at university. The opinions of CSR held by Vietnamese consumers were also canvassed. The quality of CSR offered by the study MNCs and its reception in the local communities were used to measure how foreign companies are engaging with Vietnamese consumers, and to determine whether they are creating sustainable social and economic value for the host country. The research set out to assess CSR as an ideal, as a set of social values, as a means of conducting business or a business strategy in the context of Vietnam. The research also provides insight into different forms of CSR implementation and the place of CSR in state regulation and policy in Vietnam. A mixed methods approach was used for the study. Three food and beverage MNCs in Vietnam were recruited as case studies. General staff members, a NGO senior manager, government officials and customers, including students studying business-related degrees who could seek future employment in MNCs, were recruited to provide insight into the attitudes of locals toward the CSR programs of the food and beverage MNCs. Methods of data collection included 12 in-depth interviews, 45 questionnaires, and five focus groups. Analysis of the data led to the conclusion that the CSR programs of MNCs in Vietnam were responsible for significant aspects of the expansion and success of foreign food and beverage companies. The quality of a company’s corporate social responsibility activities affected consumer buying behaviour, along with public policy. In particular, the findings show that food and beverage MNCs are likely to prioritise social CSR programs to make their business viable, improve the company’s image and reputation, its market share, employees’ job satisfaction, customer satisfaction and loyalty, and build a strong relationship with local government, while promoting environmental protection. The current research revealed the participants’ attitudes towards globalisation and national advancement, clarifying the values and aspirations of Vietnam’s educated professional elites born after the economic reforms of the 1980s, which opened Vietnam to international trade and global business investment. There was also evidence in the data that CSR awareness in MNCs has shaped customers’ buying behaviour and their attitudes. Furthermore, the practice of CSR by MNCs has significantly affected sustainable development policies in Vietnam. The study contributes much-needed knowledge about the CSR of MNCs in Vietnam, and in developing countries in general. The research revealed that MNCs used CSR strategically to garner community support as well as consumer and employee loyalty, while creating value for stakeholders and indefinable, measurable economic benefits. Interestingly, elements of CSR were proved different among companies and linked to each company’s slightly different visions and goals. It was also found that national and local governments have an important role to play in guiding and promoting the CSR of MNCs in Vietnam and other developing countries. It was found that consumers are willing to choose and purchase products from MNCs with strong CSR. The findings of the research resulted in a number of recommendations about CSR and sustainable development appropriate to each group of participants, as well as recommendations related to domestic companies and other MNCs, consumers and local communities, the Vietnamese government and local governments.


Degree Type

Doctorate by Research


© Le Dong Hau Pham 2023

School name

Global, Urban & Social Studies, RMIT University

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