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Social embedding as a solution to a control problem? Evidence from Vietnamese small business* - page 32 / 52





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a measure of skill. Accomplishing complex tasks, such as manufacturing and complex

repair, appear to require going beyond the family to employ others. The tasks of the many

people described as “worker” or “assistant” could not be coded for their attributes. The few

employees that performed jobs requiring a high level of skill were more socially embedded in

the enterprise as the enforceable trust thesis would predict. Those carrying responsibility

were not – which is contrary to the predictions of the enforceable trust thesis.

Help from extended family

(Table Eight about here)

Because kinship is a special and powerful form of social embedding, we asked a

series of questions about 12 types of extended family members including whether they lived

within 2-3 kilometers of the business, the amount of time devoted to internal help (working in

or supervising the operations of the business), and whether they had acted as brokers in

external relations (helped in negotiations with business partners or the government). Table

Eight shows information about the help extended by family members. Two-thirds of the

business owners reported having relatives nearby. The most common nearby family

members were siblings. Seventy percent of the business owners reported that no family

members outside the immediate household worked in the business. Eighty five percent of the

business owners reported that no family members outside the immediate household helped in

the external affairs of the business by helping secure loans, licenses and the like. Almost

two-thirds reported receiving no help at all from their relatives. Only about 19 percent of the

businesses received start-up capital from their families (approximately half of those who

received loans). Proximity helps significantly raise the likelihood of receiving help from

relatives but, even when they live nearby, the extended family contributed help in only half


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