From Host Country Nationals to Entrepreneurs: Insights from Professional Service Ventures in Vietnam

Yen Tran*, Snejina Michailova, Huong Nguyen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Working for multinational companies (MNCs) is often viewed as a privilege for host country nationals (HCNs) in emerging economies. This raises the question: Why do HCNs leave their jobs to pursue the hardship of establishing their own business? This article addresses this question by adopting a phenomenon-based approach to study 12 professional service firms in Vietnam. We explore why HCNs initially become entrepreneurs and identify how they make this transition. We reveal several idiosyncratic motivations and identify four types of migration pathways: MNC returnee, committed hybrid, transitional hybrid, and direct spin-off. Our findings address the shortcomings of the existing HCNs literature that centers on MNCs' view and employee entrepreneurship literature that overlooks the context of emerging markets. We find evidence that institutional voids often promote, rather than suppress, entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Importantly, by taking a local perspective, our findings help MNCs increase their awareness that in the fast-growing market of Vietnam, a brain drain might occur as a result of HCNs becoming entrepreneurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-582
Number of pages32
JournalManagement and Organization Review
Issue number3
Early online date27 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • employee entrepreneurship
  • host country nationals
  • MNC
  • professional service firms
  • Vietnam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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