COVID-19 response in a unitary state: Emerging lessons from Vietnam

Kris HARTLEY, Sarah BALES, Azad Singh BALI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The global reach of COVID-19 presents opportunities to compare policy responses to the pandemic and the role of knowledge across political contexts. This article examines the case of Vietnam’s COVID-19 response. Recognized for its early effectiveness, Vietnam exhibits the standard characteristics of unitary states but has also engaged communities, strengthening the legitimacy of and buy-in to response efforts. This article identifies six factors that shaped Vietnam’s response to the pandemic: (i) command-and-control governance, (ii) extensive preparation, (iii) fostering cooperative sentiment and solidarity, (iv) political readiness and communication, (v) policy coordination, and (vi) adaptation. The article contributes to practical discussions about country-specific responses to the pandemic, and to scholarship on policy effectiveness and success within the policy sciences and public management. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-168
JournalPolicy Design and Practice
Issue number1
Early online date01 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Hartley, K., Bales, S., & Bali, A. S. (2021). COVID-19 response in a unitary state: Emerging lessons from Vietnam. Policy Design and Practice, 4(1), 152-168. doi: 10.1080/25741292.2021.1877923


  • COVID-19
  • Pandemic response
  • Policy success
  • Policy effectiveness
  • Vietnam


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