Organizational Interests and Public Needs: Decentralization and Service Delivery in Viet Nam

28 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2011

Date Written: September 1, 2011


Decentralization has emerged as a popular strategy for reforming public services. But the outcomes of decentralization are often at odds with those envisaged, particularly as it concerns the functions of service-delivery organizations (SDOs). Among the most important aspects of decentralization is the changes it engenders in the goals, interests, and operations of service-delivery organizations. This essay examines developments in the delivery of education and health services in Viet Nam and explores ways in which service delivery, which is increasingly decentralized, can be better aligned with Viet Nam’s current and prospective needs. Broadly, four claims are advanced. First, Viet Nam’s government has demonstrated an impressive commitment to the promotion of education and health services that distinguishes it from governments in many other countries. Second, however, in light of recent developments, as well as Viet Nam’s stated development goals and international experience, Viet Nam’s government and SDOs stand to benefit from an aggressive reworking of arrangements for the governance of SDOs. Third, for normative as well as practical reasons to be detailed below, SDOs in Viet Nam are best regarded by all as client-facing organizations with obligations to rights-bearing citizens. Finally, however, any claims regarding SDOs in Viet Nam must be informed by a nuanced understanding of local institutions and what it means to be involved in the delivery and use of education and health services in Viet Nam.

Keywords: decentralization, services, education, health, developing countries, Viet Nam, Vietnam

Suggested Citation

London, Jonathan D., Organizational Interests and Public Needs: Decentralization and Service Delivery in Viet Nam (September 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan D. London (Contact Author)

City University of Hong Kong ( email )

83 Tat Chee Avenue
Hong Kong


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