The regulation of tourism business activity in the transitional Vietnamese economy
This thesis examines the extent to which regulation theory provides an appropriate theoretical framework for analysing the development of capitalist economic relations and activities in transitional economies. The investigation uses secondary sources and information gained from interviews conducted with tourism business owners and managers in three Vietnamese cities: Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. I find that through its recognition of firstly, the path dependent nature of regulatory processes and secondly, national and local scales as key sites in the regulation of global economic processes, regulation theory can be utilised in analysing the development of capitalist economic relations and activities in transitional economies. Nevertheless, the findings in this thesis also challenge and offer new perspectives on a number of the key concepts contained within regulation theory. Firstly, my findings illustrate how political imperatives play a much more significant role in the regulation of economic activity than acknowledged in regulation theory. In Vietnam, as a way of maintaining the state as the leading institution in the Vietnamese socioeconomy, the central Vietnamese state has historically ceded a significant degree of regulatory control over economic space to the local state. As a consequence, the local state has traditionally constituted the key institution regulating economic activity in local space. In the transitional Vietnamese economy, I illustrate that political imperatives are continuing to inform the practices of the central state in regulating nascent capitalist economic processes. I find that this is chiefly being articulated through the informal regulatory practices and capacity of the central state as it seeks to mediate capitalist economic relations between supra and sub-national actors and institutions. This runs counter to assertions within regulation theory where the regulatory power of the central state is chiefly derived from its capacity to enact a formal framework of regulatory forms to guide global economic processes throughout national space. Secondly, I highlight the importance of the social regulation of economic activity and how in Vietnam the cultivation of social ties with local state officials has historically constituted an important institutional mechanism regulating economic activity in local spaces. In the transitional Vietnamese economy, I find that among private tourism business owners interviewed in Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City, the cultivation of social ties with local state officials has continued to play an important role in the establishment and running of their businesses. Out of these findings, I adapt the conceptual framework provided in regulation theory and build a more appropriate analytical framework that can be utilised in examining how regulatory processes and relations are evolving in regulating capitalist economic activity in transitional economies.