Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Perceptions of Leadership Competencies and the Acquisition of Them by CEOs in Vietnamese Small Enterprises

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Perceptions of Leadership Competencies and the Acquisition of Them by CEOs in Vietnamese Small Enterprises

Article excerpt

Abstract

Leadership competencies are expected to be critical factors for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to be successful and to lead their SMEs to play the role as the major driver toward economic development in Vietnam. This paper aims to understand the perceptions of CEOs of Vietnamese SMEs regarding the importance of some leadership competencies and the extent to which the competencies of knowledge, skills and attitudes have been acquired by these CEOs. This research was used them a large-scale survey and in-depth interviews method to solve those issues. The result of this research included the significant difference between the perceived importance and the level of acquisition of these competencies, particularly in Vietnam Small and Medium Entreprises. The result of this research can be seen as the important source for practioners in order to design effective training and development programs tailored for CEOs of SMEs.

Keywords: CEOs, leadership competencies, level of acquisition, perceived importance, SMEs, Vietnam

1. Introduction

Leadership is one of the most interested topic that attracted many researchers and practioners that concentrated huge efforts on finding the useful information for both practioners and researchers. Based on those researches, the result showed that leadership competencies can help managers to out-perform in their managerial role and contribute to organizational success. And the effective leadership is needed by all types of enterprises; however the role of leadership seems more vital in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) given their paramount importance in national economic development and the specific disadvantages they face when compared to their giant counterparts (Baum, Locke, & Kirkpatrick, 1998; Vo & Harvie, 2009; Matzler, Schwarz, Deutinger, & Harms, 2012). In the global crisis time, the role of leadership is more and more important; they are the key person that decided the success or failure of the firms.

Vietnam has been considered as the developing country and the Vietnamese economy has experienced high growth since its reform in 1986; the key sources for this rapid development can be attributed to the private sector including SMEs and foreign invested enterprises (Harvie, 2008). The growing influence of the SMEs sector on the Vietnamese economy can be seen in different ways. The first, the total numbers of registered SMEs increased from 14,500 in 2000 to 550,000 in 2011, representing nearly 97% of the country's total number of firms and accounting for 46% of national gross domestic products (Vietnam News, 2013). SMEs have been more efficient users of capital and generated 80% of the total employment in the period of 2000-2006 (GSO, 2008). The second is that despite this contribution, the Vietnamese SMEs sector remains small and fragile especially in comparison to the state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Private companies including SMEs do not operate on an even playing field because SOEs are still regarded as key drivers for national economic growth and enjoy preferential treatment (i.e.. access to finance) (Harvie, 2008). SMEs also face severe challenges of financial constraint, outdated technology, unstable markets and increasing competition, etc. In the 2009-2012 economic downturns in Vietnam, these challenges were compounded, illustrated by the fact that 7,000 SMEs were dissolved and 3,000 SMEs halted-production (Asiaecon, 2013). Given this context, leadership can be a critical factor for a SMEs' survival and help SMEs to play the role as the major driver toward economic development in Vietnam.

Research on the leadership field showed that the leaders can do their job effectively when they possessed the professional competences. However, little is known about the essential competencies required for effective leadership in Vietnamese SMEs. This paper bridges this gap and specifically aims to investigate (i) the perceptions of CEOs of Vietnamese SMEs regarding the importance of some leadership competencies (ii) the extent to which the competencies of knowledge, skills and attitudes have been acquired by the CEOs of Vietnamese SMEs. …

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