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Participation, Government Legitimacy, and Regulatory Compliance in Emerging Economies: A Firm-Level Field Experiment in Vietnam



This paper employs a field experiment in single-party–ruled Vietnam to test whether providing a broad-based representative sample of firms the opportunity to comment on draft regulations increases their subsequent compliance. We find three main outcomes of this treatment. First, treated firms exhibited greater improvement in their views of government’s regulatory authority. Second, these firms were more likely to allow government-affiliated auditors to examine their factories. Third, treated firms demonstrated greater compliance on the factory floor. Access and compliance were not explained by the receipt of advance information about the regulation’s requirements, and none of the three outcomes required that firms offer substantive comments.


Corresponding author

*Edmund Malesky, Professor, Political Science, Duke University,
Markus Taussig, Associate Professor, Rutgers Business School,


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We are grateful to our terrific collaborators in Vietnam, especially our project manager Duong (Candice) Cam, the Legal Department at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Dau Anh Tuan and Ta Thanh Hoa, Mekong Development Research Institute’s Nguyen Viet Cuong, Phung Duc Tung, and Nguyen Thi Nhung, and the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affair’s Nguyen Anh Tho. Critical feedback on study design and post analysis was provided by Jim Anderson, Do Quoc Anh, Kate Baldwin, Sebastian Galiani, Georg Vanberg, Rema Hanna, Macartan Humphreys, Guy Grossman, Martin Kanz, Le Dang Doanh, Gerard Padro I Miguel, Dan Posner, Greg Huber, Nguyen Dinh Cung, and Pham Chi Lan. We are also thankful for additional valuable feedback from the editors and three reviewers, and for funding support for our field work from the Jameel Poverty Action Lab’s Governance Initiative, the UK’s DFID via the World Bank’s Vietnam country office, the Musim Mas Foundation, and NUS Business School.

Transparency: All experimental material including videos, scripts, and surveys as well as all datasets, replication code, and online appendix can be found on the APSR’s Dataverse: The pre-analysis plan for this experiment can be found at This experiment received IRB approval from National University of Singapore and Duke University on June 25, 2015 (CO469).



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