Topics: Construction, Management, SWOT analysis Pages: 25 (8028 words) Published: August 22, 2013

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Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats for Architectural, Engineering, and Construction Firms: Case Study of Vietnam Florence Yean Yng Ling1; Vu Min Chau Pham2; and To Phuong Hoang3 Abstract: After Vietnam became a member of the World Trade Organization, Vietnamese architectural, engineering, and construction A/E/C firms face competition from not only their domestic competitors but also from foreign A/E/C firms. As most Vietnamese firms are used to operating under a protected setting, they may face difficulties competing in the globalized environment. This study undertakes a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats SWOT analysis of Vietnamese A/E/C firms, investigates how they respond to opportunities and threats, and recommends how foreign A/E/C firms operating in Vietnam could respond. Using semistructured interview questions, face-to-face interviews were conducted with Vietnamese and foreign A/E/C firms. The SWOT analysis reveals that Vietnamese A/E/C firms are lagging behind foreign firms in financial capacity, experience in complex projects, knowledge in advanced design and construction technology, and management ability. Industry practitioners from outside Vietnam who are contemplating entering the Vietnamese market can leverage on Vietnamese firms’ strengths by forming joint ventures with strong and reputable private Vietnamese firms. To improve their competitive advantage, it is recommended that foreign A/E/C firms offer superior products and services and familiarize themselves with local culture and regulations. They should be mindful of corruption and set up surveillance systems to curb wasteful spending. DOI: 10.1061/ ASCE CO.1943-7862.0000069 CE Database subject headings: Vietnam; International factors; Engineering firms; Construction companies; Agriculture; Economic factors; Case reports.

On January 11, 2007, Vietnam became the 150th member country of the World Trade Organization WTO . WTO member countries cannot normally discriminate between their trading partners, and imported and locally produced goods and services should be treated equally following the “national treatment” principle of giving others the same treatment as one’s own nationals World Trade Organization WTO 2005 . As a WTO member, Vietnam must allow WTO member-country’s architectural, engineering, and construction A/E/C firms to operate in its construction industry, albeit in a controlled way. Vietnam attracted a record of US$20 billion foreign direct investment FDI , rising by 70% over the previous year Blume Associate Professor, Dept. of Building, National Univ. of Singapore, 4 Architecture Dr., Singapore 117566, Singapore corresponding author . E-mail: 2 Quantity Surveyor, KPK Quantity Surveyors Pte Ltd., 865 Mountbatten Rd., 07-01, Singapore 437844, Singapore. E-mail: mizchou@ 3 Quantity Surveyor, Rider Levett Bucknall Pte Ltd., 150 Beach Rd., 09-01, Singapore 189720, Singapore. E-mail: Note. This manuscript was submitted on July 24, 2008; approved on March 24, 2009; published online on March 26, 2009. Discussion period open until March 1, 2010; separate discussions must be submitted for individual papers. This paper is part of the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Vol. 135, No. 10, October 1, 2009. ©ASCE, ISSN 0733-9364/2009/10-1105–1113/$25.00. 1

2007 . Foreign A/E/C firms are expected to enter Vietnam to develop the facilities which are needed by foreign investors. In line with Vietnam’s WTO commitments to open up its construction market to foreign businesses, Vietnamese A/E/C firms now face intense competition from foreign entrants, when hitherto most of them are only used to operating under a protected environment. Vietnam’s construction market is attractive to foreign A/E/C firms because...

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