Social Capital and Human Resource Management in International Joint Ventures in Vietnam: A Perspective from a Transitional Economy

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This study highlights the importance of social capital in international joint ventures (IJVs), and examines human resource practices as a factor shaping such social capital. Comprehensive measures of social capital are developed and tested, which extend prior work on 'bonding' and 'bridging' social capital. We also link social capital with its anticipated antecedents and consequences. The study’s findings are based on data collected from 164 IJVs located in Vietnam. IJV performance was predicted by training and by the level of trust and cooperation between foreign and local personnel. Training (including acquisition of management skills, technology, and cross-cultural understanding) also was predictive of the measures of social capital. A key practical implication arising from this study is that the return on investment from training of joint venture personnel can stem not only from the transfer of technical and management skills needed for developing competitive advantage, but also from the positive impact on social capital, which further contributes to venture success. The establishment of written objectives and plans for the venture, as well as the IJV’s level of control regarding its own HR functions also was found to be related to some components of social capital. The findings of this study reinforce the call to build on the contributions of local personnel in joint ventures, and in Vietnam in particular.