Kris Hartley: Interprovincial Economic Competitiveness in Vietnam: A New Structural Economics Perspective

Interprovincial economic competitiveness in Vietnam: A New Structural Economics Perspective

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Kris Hartley's teaching and research interests include economic development, urban growth, and environmental policy. He first became interested in cities while studying ancient Minoan settlements as an archaeological fieldworker in Crete. His interest has since skipped ahead to modern Asian cities — in particular, the economic, social, and environmental impacts of rapid urbanization. Hartley has consulted with government agencies in North America and Asia on issues such as affordable housing, earthquake recovery, and infrastructure development. He has held visiting academic appointments at the University of Hong Kong, Seoul National University, Vietnam National University, and the University of the Philippines. His current research projects address foreign direct investment in Africa, climate change adaptation in Hong Kong, and ASEAN economic integration. Hartley is a faculty fellow at Cornell's Atkinson Center. He also maintains research affiliations with the Center for New Structural Economics (Peking University), the Institute of Water Policy (National University of Singapore), and the Center for Government Competitiveness (Seoul National University). Additionally, he serves as a nonresident fellow for global cities at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Hartley received a B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) in classics from the University of Tennessee, an M.B.A. from Baylor University, an M.C.P from the University of California–Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in public policy from the National University of Singapore.


Devolution is granting increased autonomy to Vietnam's provincial governments. This coincides with the country's continuing transition from a centrally planned to market economy. Heterogeneity in economic performance across provinces can be explained in part by variations in governance innovation, as enabled by this autonomy. This presentation examines this issue by testing the relationship between economic performance and governance innovation, the latter operationalized as effectiveness in dealing with central laws and creativity in solving business problems. Using PCI survey data and economic data from all 63 provinces over six years, the analysis finds a significant association between governance innovation and economic growth. In particular, the relatively stronger association in less industrialized provinces is theoretically noteworthy and has practical implications for developing economies.

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