Научная статья на тему 'The research on Vietnam national cultures, transformational leadership and the effectiveness of quality management in the state administrative agency at the grassroots level'

The research on Vietnam national cultures, transformational leadership and the effectiveness of quality management in the state administrative agency at the grassroots level Текст научной статьи по специальности «СМИ (медиа) и массовые коммуникации»

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Ключевые слова
quality management / regional culture / culture / transformational leadership / the state administrative agency / grassroots level

Аннотация научной статьи по СМИ (медиа) и массовым коммуникациям, автор научной работы — Nguyen Huu Dan, M. S. Do Ngoc Ha, Luong Trong Thanh, Ping-Fu Shu

The study explores the impact of Vietnam regional culture, transformational leadership style (TLS) on the operational effectiveness of quality management (QM) in the State administrative agency at the grassroots level (SAAGL) in Vietnam. The research examines the managerial efficiency of SAAGL based on analyzing the Vietnam cultural features and Hofstede’s cultural research results. The research results state that the efficiency of QM in SAAGL is closely associated with the Vietnam regional culture and TLS. The study results have contributed to raising awareness of QM in SAAGL since accessing the cultural context and TLS. This study finds that approaching through TLS and specific cultural environment will improve significantly QM in Vietnam SAAGL.

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Текст научной работы на тему «The research on Vietnam national cultures, transformational leadership and the effectiveness of quality management in the state administrative agency at the grassroots level»

Nguyen Huu Dan, PhD., Thanh Hoa Province Political School, Vietnam

M. S. Do Ngoc Ha, Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Hong Duc University, Vietnam E-mail: duyhoaxd.vn@gmail.com Luong Trong Thanh, PhD., Thanh Hoa Province Political School, Vietnam

Ping-Fu Shu,

PhD., Department of Business Administration, TransWorld University of Science and Technology, Taiwan

E-mail: hohoa82@gmail.com


Abstracts: The study explores the impact ofVietnam regional culture, transformational leadership style (TLS) on the operational effectiveness of quality management (QM) in the State administrative agency at the grassroots level (SAAGL) in Vietnam. The research examines the managerial efficiency of SAAGL based on analyzing the Vietnam cultural features and Hofstede's cultural research results. The research results state that the efficiency of QM in SAAGL is closely associated with the Vietnam regional culture and TLS. The study results have contributed to raising awareness of QM in SAAGL since accessing the cultural context and TLS. This study finds that approaching through TLS and specific cultural environment will improve significantly QM in Vietnam SAAGL.

Keywords: quality management, regional culture, culture, transformational leadership, the state administrative agency, grassroots level.


SAAGL plays an important role in creating order and social stability. SAAGL is the unit which closest to the people; directly organizes and guide people implement State's policies and laws. SAAGL is State's miniature; the diversity and richness of the indigenous cultural environment. The practice indicates that to perform well and achieve high efficiency at work, leaders need to harmonize their leadership styles to the regional culture. The study sample was selected based on the difference of indigenous cul-

tures with a diversity of regions and localities in rural areas, towns, and cities. The TLS in SAAGL at different cultural regions is also examined, compared, analyzed, synthesized and draw conclusions about the impact of indigenous culture on the effectiveness of management activities. The impact of culture is considered through its values on specific variables such as benefits, existence, and cohesion. In this sense, the institutional theory is used to build research model. This allows explaining how the values such as commitment, agreement, and harmony

are born and significantly influenced by indigenous culture.

Some researchers are interested in culture and its role in various types of organizations in both practical and theoretical terms, but there are not studies mention or concerns the impact of indigenous culture on TLS in Vietnam SAAGL. This study aims to investigate the impact of indigenous culture, TLS on QM in SAAGL.

Materials and methods

The data were collected in the winter season 2016 at three largest areas of Vietnamese culture (Northern Vietnam, Central Vietnam, Southern Vietnam).

The sample design and the selection of sample units are conducted along the following lines. (i) The national cultures are investigated by region; (ii) TLS is considered in relationship to local culture, and (iii) The relationship between TLS and followers in SAAGL.

The QM was selected by the following constraints (i) the public service quality must be selected; (ii) the relationship between the public service quality and TLS, and (iii) the relationship between public services and local culture.

The questionnaire included questions that covered (a) Transformational leadership style; (b) Local culture; (c) Public service quality; (d) Quality management; (e) The satisfaction levels of citizens about the public service quality. All questions and measures for establishing scales were informed by the extant literature. The questionnaires were distributed to the three Vietnam regional cultures, including (*) The SAAGL leaders: one-hundred and fifty questionnaires were distributed, only 135 of the questionnaires were returned (90%); (**) The SAAGL followers: Three-hundred questionnaires were distributed, only 206 of the questionnaires were returned (68.7%); (***) The beneficiaries of public services: Three-hundred questionnaires were distributed, only 186 of the questionnaires were returned (62%)

Literature review

The Characteristics of QM in SAAGL

The Fourth Industrial Revolution; the process of international integration in the economy, society, and culture has been changed the original, comprehensive and social aspects in all aspects, activities, fields, especially in the management activities. In all factors which cause a change in management activity, cultural factors play a significant role in the effectiveness of QM in the state administrative agency, especially in SAAGL. Culture serves as motivation in creating tendencies to apply the management method and according to the system to improve the efficiency of management activities. The requirement to improve QM meeting the requirement of development, integration process in SAAGL strongly increased. This reflects the growing awareness that sustainable growth will not be achieved if the quality of the management methods which used daily is ignored (Manatos et al. 2015).

Harvey (2004) states that QM takes a comprehensive approach about concepts, policies, processes, and systems to maintain and improve quality of activities in the organization. QM can be a mechanism which helps the organization achieve transparency, accountability, performance, and efficiency; a systematic combination of activities in order to improve the quality of SAAGL activities or political system; a way or an approach that improves management efficiency, stability and develop the economy, politics and society. The aim of QM is not only on quality and efficiency, but also in the processes to maintain and improve it. Therefore, implementing QM will help SAAGL continuously enhance and improve the managerial efficiency.

Trow (1994) states that QM has many purposes. It is a tool to achieve goals such as improving the quality of public services; enhancing transparency, accountability, and obligations of SAAGL to reach the consensus and the satisfaction of the community toward the goals to developing fast, stable and sustainable. QM covers many aspects, areas such as

continuous improvement, organizational management, personnel management, information management, resource management, socioeconomic management. On the standard calibration scale, QM will create a consensus among stakeholders in the long-term partnership.

Research of Brennan and Shah (2000) has pointed out another important feature of QM, that is "to describe the total process of judgment, decision and action". Due to the transparency, accountability, and obligations in operation, SAAGL needs to establish a standard system for QM to maximize efficiency. The efficiency requires SAAGL should stimulate the process of decision-making to attract the attention and consensus of the people and the political and social organizations in the state administration activities. QM can be viewed as a strategy which helps SAAGL improving the performance of cadres and civil servants. To achieve management goals, SAAGL must encourage cadres and civil servants participate in the progress and process improvement because QM denotes the efficiency of the process efficiency and human resource management (Trow, 1994; Zhang et al., 2012). Therefore, QM is expected to include organized activities which help QM in SAAGL operating follow systematic way and structured rather than let it develop based on the individual (Massy, 2003).

In summary, QM can be viewed as a comprehensive management philosophy, synthesis, and practices for managing organizational activities by focusing on maintaining and strengthening all functions of the organization to meet or surpass the expectations in the present and future of the parties involved (Flynn et al., 1994).

The Vietnam administrative management apparatus has witnessed the dramatic progress of science and technology and the process of economic and cultural - social integration around the world. To participate in these activities, it is imperative for Vietnam to develop and implement an effective QM system at SAAGL. However, how to build and implement

QM in order to achieve the highest benefit is a big challenge for Vietnam, especially when QM practices are derived from the perspective of the West. According to Hofstede et al. (2010), culture influences the effectiveness of political, economic and social organizations. In this view, SAAGL also is considered a component affected by culture. Therefore, the operation and development of SAAGL are not separated from the cultural environment, cultural context. Under different contexts, the impact factors are also different and these make their effects also vary according to the change of cultural contexts. This becomes clearer and more particularly true in Vietnam's unique and diverse culture. In a research, Borton (2000) proposed ten principles to work with Vietnamese partners. These recommendations emphasize the important role of customs and practices in VN management. Rely on the perception of QM and country cultural aspects of Hofstede (2011), This study examines the impact of indigenous culture to the operational practice of SAAGL helping achieve MQ effectiveness in Vietnam.

Transformational Leadership and Culture

Transformational leadership theory provides the theoretical support for current research to explain how the transmission or diffusion of these cultural elements occurs. Some researchers state that leaders play an important role in defining organizational culture (Pettigrew 1979; Dyer 1985) . Also, Podsakoff et al. (1990) suggest that transformational leaders motivate people to do more than others would originally expect to do by articulating a vision, providing an appropriate role model, fostering the acceptance of group goals, providing individualized support and intellectual stimulation, and expressing highperformance expectations. Besides, transformational leaders have the vision and the ability to get their employees to accept ownership of that vision as their own (Oakley & Kruy, 1991). Therefore, transformational leadership needs to possess the willingness and ability to draw the vision from their followers; inspire and give followers the authority to do what it takes to bring the vision into reality.

Concern about the relationship between transformational leadership and culture, Golden (1992) suggests that the organizational culture must support activities linked to the mission of the organization. Weese (1995) concludes that high transformational leaders own strong organizational cultures and carry out culture-building activities; Leaders have offered tempered positions relative to the impact that a leader can have on shaping and preserving the culture of an organization (Weese, 1995). Schein (1990) suggests that leaders should give their strength on building a strong organizational culture which supports activities as following: managing change; achieving goals and coordinating teamwork in the organization. These activities will contribute to improving the effectiveness of the organization. Also, successful organizations, over time, are likely to own a strong, well-defined culture (Denison, 1990). Regard to the role of leadership in maintaining the organizational culture or in changing it to implement a change of direction dictated by a new vision, Bryman (1992) suggests that the leader can alter or impact the organizational culture. Avolio et al. (1991) stated that organizational culture holds the key to increased commitment, productivity, and profitability. The culture is the organization, not something that the organization owns, and therefore, the cultural change is a difficult task.

Cultural Definitions and Vietnam National Culture from Hofstede's lens of Cultural Dimensions

There are many definitions about culture (Olie, 1995). Some researchers suggest to this subject in their conception (Hofstede, 2011, p. 3; Jaeger, 1986, p. 179; Flynn & Saladin, 2006). According to the research of Hofstede (2011), "Culture is a collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others". Besides, Jaeger (1986) states that culture is "a set of ideas shared by members ofa group". Flynn and Saladin (2006) agree that the collective programming, the so-called national culture, is established from the ways of life shared by one person of one nation.

National culture is formed by geographical, climatic, social, historical, economic and political challenges. According to the natural, social, historical, economic and political perspectives, Vietnam culture can separate into three regional cultures, including Northen Vietnam, Central Vietnam, and Southen Vietnam. Vietnamese culture is formed and developed through three major cultural periods, including (1) the Stone Age in 208 BC, when Zhao Tuo invaded Vietnam; (2) from BC 208 up till now (the cultural exchange with neighboring countries from Southeast Asia, East Asia and South Asia, especially China); from the 16th century up till now (the period of interaction with Western culture). From the aspects and conditions above, Vietnam culture enjoyed an early process of its cultural connections, exchanges, integration, and acculturation. These factors play a crucial portion of creating a Vietnam national culture which combines five distinctive characteristics, including, the collectivism; the interaction with harmony; the yin-oriented essence; the synthetic culture and the flexible culture (Tran, 2006).

The culture of a nation, a people or a community is something very abstract. However, that is the soul which determines the thoughts and actions of individuals, organizations or communities. Therefore, learning about culture in order to find a common rule for analyzing and evaluating a culture, comparing it with other cultures is very important, because, it will help "quantify" to the possible extent a kind of "abstract", so that we can know more about "yourself" to make appropriate decisions; improve "yourself"; better understanding of different cultures; thereby helping cultures to integrate better; reduce feelings in evaluation and comment. This research applies the theory of culture of Hofstede (1980; 1991; 2010; 2011) about the cultural dimensions and research in Vietnam (Them, 2004, Discovering the identity of Vietnamese culture) to analyze Vietnam culture and consider how its relationship with transformational leadership influences the effectiveness of QM in the GAAGL.

Power Distance

This cultural dimension refers to the level of equality/inequality between people in society. The countries with high power distance in culture will accept and perpetuate the inequality between people. In a society where power distance is large, people will obey the leader; employees follow the management and leadership; students listen uncritically to teachers; children do not dare to argue with their parents - because they regard it as a natural thing, a duty. The caste system is very clear. It is difficult for a low-level person moves to a higher level. Countries with a low-power distance in culture will follow democracy, do not emphasize the difference between people and people about social position, power, or wealth. Equality is considered a common goal of all social (Australia, Northern Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom, etc.) Conversely, countries with a high-power distance in culture often accept dictatorship or imperative institutions. (Malaysia, Slovakia, Vietnam, etc.)

Considering this cultural dimension, Vietnam scored high (70) (Hofstede, 2011). This is consistent with the popularity of the concentrated regime in the administrative apparatus of the state, traditional values follow the trend ofConfucianism, Buddhism, the elderly value, seniority, flexibility in feedback. SAA-GL in Vietnam implements the regime of reporting, monitoring closely, restricting communication, limiting the autonomy ofsubordinates, enhancing the role and supremacy of the head. This leads to the need for Jobing assignment; guide implementation; need to have the leadership and management. However, it is a very important factor that powerful additions to implement mechanisms of democratic centralism, orders, rules, and regulations smoothly.

Individualism v.s Collectivism

This cultural dimension refers to the extent to which a society accepts individualism or asks people to live for the collective (England, America, and Australia). Countries with a high individualism culture mean that individuals and individual rights

are respected. However, in this society, the relationship between individuals is often loose. In contrast, in countries with low levels of Individualism, people integrate into the broader community (family, clan, neighbor, group, community, organization, unit, etc.) When difficulties happen, the communities which they join will protect them, but in return; they must be loyal, responsible to the community without question.

According to the Hofstede classification (2011), VN has a low score (20). Indeed, VN is a collective society, operating under the management of the group, strong relationships between individuals and individuals, respect loyalty, unity, harmony, and saving. Ethics and social norms, rules, customary laws, etc. of the group and society will create the pressure, which influences on the individual. Individuals must be loyal, accountable to the group. Besides, the group priorities are placed above the individuals' priorities. At SAAGL, this relationship can be clearly demonstrated through solving practical problems, loyalty, responsibility and high respect of the group members for the organization. The cultural institutions of the group are diverse by difference and even contradiction in values, philosophy, expectations, principles, and standards in the group. Receiving, recruiting, supplementing, transferring or dismissing team members is carefully considered. The connections in the group being considered are more important than the tasks. The term "we" is used instead of "I" when expressing personal ideas and feeling safer at the beginning of the responsibility as a member of the group. This characteristic may lead to dependence, depends on the support of others; not acknowledge the efforts of an individual; subjective criticism of team members; proud and strive for the group, for the official title and achievement of the team; obsessive with the trend and form. However, these characteristics create beneficial elements for the organizational management and implementation of QM as the unity of perspective, respect, trust, and cooperation.

Uncertainty Avoidance

This cultural dimension indicates the willingness to accept change, the new things of a community. Countries with a high-risk aversion in culture will not readily accept new things, the changes that they have not experienced. These societies tend to live by traditional values, follow the rules and thoughts left behind by the previous generation. New ideas and perspectives are often difficult to penetrate into countries with high Avoid Risk culture. Conversely, countries with low-risk aversion culture will not care much about the risks and the unforeseen. They are willing to accept change and experiment. In this type of society, traditional values are likely to change frequently, and less constrained by predetermined laws.

With a score of 30 (Hofstede, 2011), Vietnamese people respect the real practice and experience, more easily accept the rules and standards. They tend to be flexible in scheduling and urgently seek for innovation. Thus, they tend to keep to minimum rules and on time. Although working in an ambiguous environment, although they feel happy when achieving high achievement and be a member of the group. Flexibility and harmony are a high priority; have the ability to adapt and highly creative, but tend to be careless, random, arbitrary, vague, indecisive and less knowledgeable about the law. This feature is particularly beneficial for the application of continuous improvement and introduces the new rules with the attitude of reconciliation.

Masculinity v.s Femininity

This cultural dimension expresses the degree to which society accepts or does not accept the traditional power of men in society. Masculine and feminine focus on the motivation of members in a culture; strive to be successful (masculine) or embrace happiness (feminine). With a score of 40 (Hofsstede, 2011), Vietnam is considered a feminine society: appreciate equality, unity, stability, affection, caring for others and quality of life. The basic issue "work to live" requires the support of the manager, confidence, working conditions, flexibility,

motivation, compromise and negotiation to settle conflicts in practice participate in the decision-making process. In a highly feminine society, people and relationships are more important than money and profit. Due to this feature, one can easily obedience, lack of innovation. The characteristic of high feminine society is hospitable, humble and nurture relationship better than success. In this environment, women and men are said to be equal in life and work, family responsibilities, as well as society, although not easy for women to reach the top. Leadership in this cultural type is more intuitive than reasoning and consciously try to reach a consensus when dealing with work. Therefore, this is a good environment to develop effective interaction between leaders and employees.

Long-term v.s Short-term Orientation

The Future Direction describes the way in which a society was oriented toward the future instead of living in the past and present. In a long-term orientation, people will value persistence (or patience, perseverance), prefer the savings, arrange relationships, according to status or social class, have the concept of "shame". In other words, individuals in future-oriented societies are always worried about where their future is going. They save money for difficult or old times and expecting that perseverance, patience will bring success in the future. People in Future Society value "final result" rather than "truth" and often get results in the advocate for the process (China, Japan, Asian countries). In contrast, people who live in the present and past society often prefer to enjoy comfortable living, spend money rather than save it. People in the current society emphasis on immediate results instead of expecting patients. Social relations are fair, equal, not dependent on the status or class. They value "truth" more than "the end result", so often do things [their thinking is] right at the present time instead of wondering about the results in the future.

With the score 80 (Hofstede, 2011), Vietnam is described as a pragmatic culture, believe the

truth varies according to context, time and situation. Vietnamese people tend to adapt to new conditions when necessary, savings and efforts to prepare for the future, job stability, sustainable relationships, lifelong. This is an important factor which creates loyalty, cooperation, participation, mutual understanding, trust, sharing of employees with the organization, favorable conditions in management, consensus and decision-making. However, Vietnamese culture is very complex because of the influence of the wars of independence and specific geographic factors. Its characteristics are easy changing to adapt to natural conditions and social development. Internal rebellion always exists and if there is "flexibility or compliance" is merely protected, camouflage to resist invasion or assimilated by the larger states (Phan, 2001; Tran, 2008). This is important, direct and cannot be ignored when using cultural characteristics to successfully implement QM in SAAGL. The impact ofVietnamese culture for the application QM model has been proven in some areas (Tran et al., 2009). Therefore, the implementation of QM must consider national cultural characteristics, or anticipate conflicts among stakeholders, characteristics of the

organization, power distance, the complexity of the work, profitability, negative orientation, ethical relationships, local standards compared with economic principles, etc. because of these features certainly have great influence to efficiency of QM in SAAGL.

Vietnamese Culture Characteristics

Characteristics of Vietnamese culture associated with agriculture - agricultural culture. Vietnamese people are generally friendly and diligent. Due to its historical and geographical, economic and political (attaching to Chinese culture), Vietnamese people in the North are considered politically sensitive, hardworking and always looking for ways to avoid risks. However, when comparing all dimensions of the culture of the North to the South of Vietnam, the South people tend to be more open, while the Central people are neutral of the North and South. However, comprehensively, in all three of Vietnam's cultural regions, according to research by Hofstede (1980), Vietnamese culture belongs to high power distance, tend collectively, and the uncertainty avoidance's index is just average (See Table 1: Point for 5 cultural dimensions of some typical countries, including Vietnam (Source: http://www.geert-hofstede.com/)

Table 1.

Country Power Distance Individualism Femininity Uncertainty Avoidance Long-term Orientation

Vietnam 70 20 40 30 80

China 80 20 66 30 118

Japan 54 46 95 92 80

Thailand 64 20 34 64 56

US 40 91 62 46 29

Denmark 18 74 16 23 No


The research results state that if the organizational follower numbers are not too many, they are tended in emotion and relationship rather than in the rule. The relationship between TLS and followers, and among followers are based on the close emotional relationship of the organization. The study findings suggested the TLS factors

significantly influence Vietnamese SAAGL's harmony, commitment, and cohesion across cultures and SAAGL. The results also pointed out that TLS had a positive influence on the effectiveness of QM in Vietnamese SAAGL. Besides, it expressed that the effective implementation of QM in SAAGL had linked to the relationship between transformational leadership and regional culture. Therefore,

national culture has an important role on the impact of transformational leadership to implement QM in SAAGL. These results may allow us to conclude that higher QM in Vietnamese SAAGL the higher relationship between TLS and regional culture.

Implications for Quality Management in Vietnam SAAGL

Adopt a cultural approach and TLS for SAAGL in the context ofVietnam requires a great, complex change in institutions. Understand the aspects of indigenous culture, TLS to apply for QM into appropriate practice will bring the most beneficial effect on the organization. Thus, developing and implementing a long-term effective strategy following TLS are essential to facilitate the full active participation of all members of the organization.

In this culture, the role of TLS is emphasized. Therefore, the QM implementation should begin with leaders at all levels. Leaders should be aware of the national culture to avoid the confrontation of values; make use of the national cultural characteristics to build the appropriate organizational culture. TLS must deep understanding national culture for determining positive aspects to promote the effectiveness of QM implementation; find out the negative issues that may appear and interfere with implementation process; establish a flexible and effective strategy for the proper application of cultural elements. This process can be complex depending on the vision, knowledge, and competence of each TLS.

The implementing QM strategy should focus on facilitating the concern of all members of the organization through teamwork, consensus, participation, long-term staff development, trust, and evaluation process. TLS should work as mentors, coordinator. Moreover, TLS should encourage, motivate, cooperate, create harmony in the organization. Besides, when faced with different views, TLS need to inform and share information to followers before making the decision. The participation of employees and TLS can help to create a friendly and closely environment. As a result, this contributes to enhancing the

employees' commitment and loyalty. Increasing the participation and quality of staff in the organization, TLS need to use their own capabilities combined with indigenous cultural characteristics to create a friendly, shared, creative and flexible environment, thereby contributing to improving the efficiency of the QM implementation in SAAGL.

One of the most important tasks of TLS in SAA-GL is to ensure the stability, solidarity, harmony, benefit, and efficiency of both staffs and the whole organization. In other words, the TLS in SAAGL must be a person who provides vision, inspiration, commitment, cohesion, harmony, agreement, mobilization and encouragement to organization staffs; encourages them to strive to improve quality, capacity, and qualifications to complete the organization tasks; mobilizes followers work hard to overcome all conditions circumstances and challenges to complete the organization mission. The rise of commitment, harmony, cohesion and active participation in the organization's programs can contribute to the satisfaction of organization staffs and helps employees feeling as a part of the organization. This can help the organization succeed in successfully implementing QM in SAAGL.


Vietnam's SAAGL needs to make significant adjustments rapidly access and adapt to the exploitation of modern scientific and technological applications to lift the country out of poverty. Building and putting MQinto operation as well as continuously seeking new ways to gain a competitive advantage is necessary and urgent. Indigenous culture and TLS are deeply related to the improvement of management efficiency, maximizing benefits from the implementation of QM in SAAGL. Therefore, using harmoniously TLS and the features of Vietnam indigenous culture to implement QM in SAAGL should be more concerned than ever.

This research has approached previous studies that the effective implementation of management is closely related to the cultural regions ofVietnam. The

diversity of regional culture in Vietnam has made tions. The research results provide a new approach

the implementation of management activities in the for management leaders in the administrative or-

administrative organization difficult and very com- ganization in Vietnam. Besides, this research pro-

plex. Understand the nature of the relationship and vides a comprehensive view of Vietnamese culture,

characteristics of each cultural area and exploit it as well as the specific cultural differences between

wisely will help managers favorable in operation, re- regions in Vietnam. This helps researchers, policy-

duce the pressure of administrative work, promotes makers, sociocultural researchers, and especially for-

commitment and participation of both leaders and eign economists and investors having a comprehen-

staff, bring high efficiency in the implementation of sive and distinct view in terms of Vietnam cultural

management in Vietnam administrative organiza- regions.


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