Kent Business School

Making connections/ Impacting futures

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Dr Vinh Sum Chau

Senior Lecturer in Strategy

Director of Master's in Management (General) and Management (International Business)

Location: Canterbury, KBS R&D Building, Room 116A

Office hours (Spring term): 09:00-11:00 Mondays and Tuesdays

Please request appointment via email


Research Interests

  • Strategic performance management
  • Organisational effectiveness (esp. purpose/objectives and teamworking)
  • Policy deployment (hoshin kanri)
  • Public (eg. health) and regulated (eg. energy and banking) sectors
  • Asia Pacific (esp. Chinese and Japanese) management


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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

    McCarthy, Dermot C. and Bui, Hong T. M. and Chau, Vinh Sum (2013) Assessing Performance Determinants of Higher Education Academics in Developed and Emerging Economies: UK vs Vietnam. Strategic Change, 22 (5-6). pp. 371-385. ISSN 1086-1718.


    Two major universities were used in this study (one from the UK and one from Vietnam) to examine the role of various employee and job characteristics that determine academics’ performance. The backgrounds of the higher education systems of the UK and Vietnam are presented. The research demonstrates the importance of individual characteristics in determining both academic teaching and research performance, regardless of developed or emerging economy context. Of particular interest, tenure is also found to be a significant determinant of research performance. However, organizational characteristics are found to have no statistically significant impact on academics’ performance.

    Chau, Vinh Sum and Witcher, Barry J. (2012) Varieties of Captialism and Strategic Management: Managing Performance in Multinationals after the Global Financial Crises. British Journal of Management, 23 (S1). pp. 58-73. ISSN 1045-3172.


    This paper examines the varieties of capitalism thesis for its implications for strategy and strategic management. It considers the grounds for an integrated approach to strategic management, which will make firms less susceptible to sudden economic change in global markets. The paper is structured into four parts. In the first, the nature of the varieties of capitalism thesis is examined (Hall P. A. and Soskice D. (2001). ‘An introduction to varieties of capitalism’. In P. A. Hall and D. (eds), Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage, pp. 1–68. Oxford: Oxford University Press). In the second part, two distinct strands of theory and research in strategic management (the outside-in and inside-out views of strategy) are considered, and how these might condition thinking about strategy, management and organizational learning. The third part explores convergence in strategic management, and explicates a model from research at Nissan, which brings core competencies and dynamic capabilities to the strategic management of the large multinational firm. The fourth part concludes with a critical assessment of the varieties of capitalism and the likelihood of a convergent strategic management after the global financial crisis.

    Chau, Vinh Sum and Thomas, Howard C and Clegg, Stewart R. et al. (2012) Managing Performance in Global Crisis. British Journal of Management, 23 (S1). pp. 1-5. ISSN 1045-3172.


    The title of this special issue is deliberately ambivalent: it concerns how the subject of performance management is globally in crisis, as well as how the implications of the 2008 global financial crisis can be better understood. Both are exemplified.

    Soltani, Ebrahim and Chau, Vinh Sum (2012) A Learning Organization Perspective of Service Quality Operations in the IT Industry. Strategic Change, 21 (5-6). pp. 275-284. ISSN 1086-1718.


    This study uses learning organization to explore the knock-on effects of the entirety of service quality operations. It examines IT firms which are exemplars of behaviour of the high-tech industry by drawing on data collected from managers involved in key service quality operations. Two alternative paths for management’s approach to service quality are evident. The first involves alignment of all resources to support both employees and customers that distils generative learning (progressive organization), and is applicable to the high-tech IT industry. The second involves a quick-fix, fire-fighting approach to champion only customers that distils a passive learning mentality (regressive organization), and seems applicable to other contexts, such as healthcare and hospitality.

    Chau, Vinh Sum and Ngai, Liqing W. L. C. (2010) The Youth Market for Internet Banking Services: Perceptions, Attitude and Behaviour. Journal of Services Marketing, 24 (1). pp. 42-60. ISSN 0887-6045.


    Purpose – This paper aims to investigate the perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of the youth market for internet banking services (IBS). Design/methodology/approach – A survey was carried out to acquire data from 164 respondents. The respondents were competent computer users and studying for a degree at a university. Three additional in-depth interviews were subsequently carried out on interesting cases. Findings – The authors find that young people (age 16-29) have more positive attitudes and behavioural intentions towards using IBS than other user-groups. It has also confirmed that there is a positive impact of IBS quality on satisfaction and loyalty. Research limitations/implications – The study focused on an isolated convenience sample of university students in the UK. The findings might not therefore have worldwide significance despite a large proportion of the students were international and from a good representation of minority ethic groups. Originality/value – The research focused on a specific segment of the internet banking services market – younger students at a UK university. The findings are useful for bank services marketing as the young are likely to become the most important segment of users as the worldwide web and banking services become more advanced in the future.

    Chau, Vinh Sum and Kao, Yu-Ying (2009) Bridge Over Troubled Water or Long and Winding Road? Gap-5 in Airline Service Quality Performance Measures. Managing Service Quality, 19 (1). pp. 106-134. ISSN 0960-4529.


    Purpose – This paper seeks to apply the SERVQUAL model to identify critical performance measures in the airline industry, exploring differences between Eastern and Western expectations of airline service quality and delivery. Design/methodology/approach – Data from 263 effective questionnaire responses were collected from two locations – Taipei (Taiwan) and London (UK) – to compare differences between the well-documented gap-5 (between perceived and expected levels of service quality) values of respondents from these places of origin. Findings – The paper generally finds that: there is a statistically significant difference between the perceived and expected levels of service quality in the airline industry; these are affected by such demographic factors as education, occupation and income levels (but not all that were examined); the SERVQUAL model's dimensions represent appropriately the airline industry; and the gap-5 sizes of these quality dimensions have a significant impact on customer satisfaction and service value; but there does not seem to be a statistically significant difference between the gap-5s of respondents from the two locations. Research limitations/implications – The paper limited the research to data from two locations, and makes a bold assumption that the two locations make adequate representations of views from the East and West. Practical implications – Gap-5 and general SERVQUAL analyses seem to apply well to the airline industry. Further, management effort need not be different for the delivery of service quality between Eastern and Western passengers/customers. The findings are generalizable to other sectors for which service quality is an important public sector concern (e.g. household utilities). Originality/value – A generic framework is presented for how service quality dimensions, and issues of gap-5, relate to overall service quality, customer satisfaction, and service value, in the passenger airline industry.

    Chau, Vinh Sum and Witcher, Barry J. (2009) The Uses and Usefulness of Reflexive Accounts in Strategic Performance Management Research: The Case of UK Regulated Public Utilities. International Journal of Productivity andPerformance Management, 58 (4). pp. 346-366. ISSN 1741-0401.


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of reflexivity in ensuring quality in the conduct of qualitative organizational and management (especially case study based) strategic performance management research. It argues the importance of research reports to include a reflexive account of the comings and goings about the circumstances that may have impacted upon the research to justify its validity. A project on UK-regulated public utilities is used to illustrate the benefit of such an account and how it may be presented. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on a two-year longitudinal research project, which used longitudinal case studies to examine the impact of regulatory policy incentives on the strategic management of UK monopoly network utilities, to present a developed approach for presenting reflexive accounts in qualitative research. It focuses on the longitudinal tracer methodology that allows a close examination of detailed yet holistic operational activities, which is particularly good for strategic performance management research. Findings – The paper suggests that the more explicit the reflexive appreciation during the conduct of the research, the better it satisfies the conditions of reliability and validity which are themselves well-known prerequisites for ensuring quality in qualitative research. Practical implications – Strategic performance management research is characterised by a need to examine closely detailed internal decision-making processes. Such an approach is supported by the emerging activity-based view of management, known as strategy-as-practice, that concerns understanding micro-activities of the organization. The provision of a reflexive account in research reports alerts the reader to these equivocal conditions under which the findings were derived. Originality/value – The paper concludes that an appreciation of the epistemological and ontological positions of the tracer methodology has an impact upon the way in which a reflexive account of organizational research should appropriately be presented. It suggests some potential issues to include in the presentation of reflexive accounts.

    Chau, Vinh Sum (2009) Benchmarking Service Quality in UK Electricity Distribution Networks. Benchmarking: An International Journal, 16 (1). pp. 47-69. ISSN 1463-5771.


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to review the evolution and development of customer service performance measures in the electricity sector since privatization in 1989, and then examine the impact of a specific recent energy regulatory requirement (known as information and incentives project (IIP)) on the organizational management of an exemplar electricity distribution company. Also discussed is how the sector has tried to learn from benchmarks from a number of such literary disciplines as economics, marketing service quality, and total quality management. Design/methodology/approach – The research first presents a survey of the historical development of performance standards based on archival documentation. It is then augmented by the employment of a longitudinal “tracer study”, involving the isolation and firsthand real time qualitative observations of a company’s key strategic and operational activities, to understand how they related to the other organizational phenomena at large. This process spanned an investigative period of two years. Findings – The paper finds that much of the early standards used in electricity immediately after the sector’s privatization rested much on those in the water and gas safety sectors, which themselves were then admittedly inadequate in UK. The IIP, a complementary set of service quality standards, worked on these early problems, but the implementation of the new scheme proved problematic and warranted major organizational reengineering, as shown in the exemplar company, ElectriCo. IIP has impacted on organizational management mostly in the areas of: higher-level strategic change, causing noticeable internal confusion during strategic transitions, building a performance management system, improvements in performance data, and establishing more effective ways for management. Research limitations/implications – While the case example used in the research is a regional monopoly and is a good representation of the context in which the service standards operate, the findings are limited to the one company. It is a UK specific context without international comparison. Originality/value – The research has combined archival research with an innovative firsthand methodological approach (tracer studies). Its value is in how the story of service standards in electricity (and specifically distribution) has been augmented from the early customer service standards to the most recent IIP considerations. It also looks from within the company, which has been missing in longstanding research in the more traditional disciplines such as economics.

    Witcher, Barry J. and Chau, Vinh Sum (2008) Contrasting Uses of Balanced Scorecards: Case Studies at Two UK Companies. Strategic Change, 17 (3-4). pp. 101-114. ISSN 1086-1718.


    This article considers two contrasting applications of the balanced scorecard, at EDF Energy and Tesco, where the scorecard is called a steering wheel. A distinction is drawn between a strategic scorecard based on vision and a performance management scorecard based on mission and values. This difference makes the associated balanced scorecards useful to management in different ways. Our model demonstrates how different balanced scorecard approaches can complement each other for effective strategic management. This conceptualization is consistent with a perceived general tendency for large multinationals to use values to strategically manage from the center organization-wide core competences.

    Chau, Vinh Sum (2008) The Relationship of Strategic Performance Management to Team Strategy Company Performance and Organizational Effectiveness. Team Performance Management, 14 (3-4). pp. 113-117. ISSN 1352-7592.


    Purpose – The purpose of this editorial is to introduce the special issue on the relationship of strategic performance management to team strategy, company performance and organizational effectiveness. Design/methodology/approach – The paper explains each of the components in this relationship before introducing the problematic issues regarding this relationship and where the gaps are missing in the extant literature; hence the need for the special issue is justified. Findings – The paper finds that the concluding remarks are offered to suggest that strategic performance management can take place at top management, middle management, or strategic operations levels, and the their impact on team strategy, company performance and organizational effectiveness can be regarded as a special phenomenon, termed “strategic team performance management”. Originality/value – This editorial provides an overview of this compilation which comprises five original papers that are examples of latest developments in this research area, and each of these articles contains a brief introduction on how they contribute to filling in gaps in the literature.

    Chau, Vinh Sum and Witcher, Barry J. (2008) Dynamic Capabilities for Strategic Team Performance Management: The Case of Nissan. Team Performance Management, 14 (3-4). pp. 179-191. ISSN 1352-7592.


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explain how hoshin kanri (policy management) is used as a higher order dynamic capability at Nissan. The paper also seeks to examine the role of top executive audits as part of the FAIR strategy execution process to develop core competences as part of team management. Design/methodology/approach – The research used semi-retrospective ethnographic case summaries recorded by an active manager involved in the implementation process of the researched organizational phenomenon. These documented observations were triangulated against internally published company reports and those made public, and any externally published documentation about Nissan. Findings – The paper finds that the use of a top executive audit (TEA) as a part of hoshin kanri, works as a high-order dynamic capability according to Teece et al. . Hoshin kanri is premised on a strong reliance on teamwork, and the effectiveness of teams is a major contributory factor to organizational performance. It works well because TEAs are a special form of organizational audit of lower-level operations against top-level strategy (i.e. it is a strategic review framework). Originality/value – How Nissan's business philosophies and methodologies are managed as core capabilities is explored. TEAs, as a key component of hoshin kanri, are examined as a strategic team performance management system.

    Witcher, Barry J. and Chau, Vinh Sum and Harding, Paul (2008) Dynamic Capabilities: Top Executive Audits and Hoshin Kanri at Nissan South Africa. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 28 (6). pp. 540-561. ISSN 0144-3577.


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the use of top executive audits (TEAs) as part of hoshin kanri (policy management) at Nissan South Africa (NSA). It relates these to the emerging importance of core competencies in the resource-based view of strategy to discuss “nested” sets of dynamic capabilities and superior performance. Design/methodology/approach – The case study of NSA is considered in terms of how the firm defines its core areas, evaluates its business methodologies and management philosophies, and conducts its diagnosis of management. This was through real time internal company observation during an intensive phase of organizational change and documentation supplied by a senior manager. Findings – The style of TEAs at Nissan is related to the concepts of “core competency” and “dynamic capability.” The core business areas of NSA are organization-wide competencies necessary for competitive success, and the management of these is shown to be most effective in the form of a TEA, which in the hoshin kanri form, is arguably a nested set of dynamic capabilities. Originality/value – The paper concludes that hoshin kanri and TEAs are used at Nissan as a higher order dynamic capability to develo0p both core competences in key areas of the business, and core capabilities in terms of its corporate methodologies and business philosophies. The recovery of Nissan during the East Asian Crisis of the late-1990s was the result of improved productivity practices, such as the uses of hoshin kanri and TEAs, and not just of economic recovery.

    Witcher, Barry J. and Chau, Vinh Sum (2007) Balanced Scorecard and Hoshin Kanri: Dynamic Capabilities for Managing Strategic Fit. Management Decision, 45 (3). pp. 518-538. ISSN 0025-1747.


    Purpose – The paper seeks to combine the uses of the balanced scorecard and hoshin kanri as integrative dynamic capabilities for the entire strategic management process. It aims to posit a model for the combination of these long- and short-term organisational activities as a framework for a senior level to manage a firm’s strategic fit as an integrated organisation-wide system that links top management goals to daily management. Design/methodology/approach – The resource-based view of strategy is explored for its relevance to how a combined balanced scorecard and hoshin kanri approach serves as a high-order dynamic capability. Examples are given from Canon, Toyota and Nissan, of how core capabilities are managed to show how strategy is executed cross-functionally across a firm’s functional hierarchy. Findings – The study finds that strategic management of the organisation should consider the long-term strategy as well as the short-term capability. Important to this are core capabilities and core competences, cross-functional management, and top executive audits, which, when managed properly, explicate a new view of strategic fit, as a form of nested hierarchies of dynamic capabilities. Originality/value – The paper is the first exposition of how balanced scorecard and hoshin kanri practices may usefully complement each other in strategic management. It is a useful framework for dynamically managing sustained competitive advantage.

    Witcher, Barry J. and Chau, Vinh Sum and Harding, Paul (2007) Top Executive Audits: Strategic Reviews of Operational Activities. Managerial Auditing Journal, 22 (1). pp. 95-105. ISSN 0268-6902.


    Purpose – The paper explores the involvement of top management in strategic reviews of the organization’s operational activities (known as top executive audits or TEAs). These are discussed in relation to strategy process and business excellence. Design/methodology/approach – The case of Nissan South Africa (NSA) is used to illustrate their importance and their relation to hoshin kanri (policy deployment) practice. Findings – The paper argues that TEAs are a very important and integrative aspect of the holistic management of the organization. TEAs are also crucial to hoshin kanri and facilitate operational effectiveness. Originality/value – The paper suggests that strategic reviews, such as TEAs, are best operated when integrated together as an organization-wide managed system of review. Keywords Auditing, Chief executives, Performance management, Strategic management

    Witcher, Barry J. and Chau, Vinh Sum (2007) Balanced Scorecard and Hoshin Kanri: Managing Strategic Priorities. Emerald for Managers.


    The scorecard and hoshin kanri are integrative cross-functional approaches used for managing strategic priorities across the functional hierarchy of the firm. They provide firms with an overall capability for sustaining strategic management over time. The scorecard’s strength lies in its ability to clarify long-term statements of corporate purpose. Hoshin kanri, on the other hand, is strong as a management system for the deployment and execution of purpose as short-term actions. In fact, the balanced scorecard was originally developed from hoshin kanri.

    Chau, Vinh Sum and Witcher, Barry J. (2005) Longitudial Tracer Studies: Research Methodology of the Middle Range. British Journal of Management, 16 (4). pp. 343-355. ISSN 1045-3172.


    This article reviews the longitudinal tracer study in the context of the researcher-practitioner relevance gap. It proposes the tracer as a methodological middle-range approach that takes account of relevancy and which involves practitioners in the research process. An ESRC research project about hoshin kanri (policy deployment) is used as an example to explain the longitudinal tracer study approach. The methodological approach is consistent with middle range theory and thinking, and involves skeletal prior theory, tags, a practitioner network, and continuous reflexivity. It is concluded that the longitudinal tracer study can be a useful middle-range solution to help close the researcher-practitioner gap.

    Chau, Vinh Sum and Witcher, Barry J. (2005) Implications of Policy Incentives for Strategic Control: An Intergrative Model. Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 76 (1). pp. 85-119.


    This paper proposes an internal management perspective of the company, as a complement to longstanding principal-agency theory, for understanding the interchange between regulator and company. It draws from a longitudinal research project on understanding the implications of regulation policy incentives for strategic control in the management of UK monopoly network utilities and the management implications of regulatory policy making. This paper reports on how two utility companies have managed regulatory objectives alongside organizational ones in electricity distribution and gas transportation and suggests a new integrative model of strategic control for understanding utility management. It concludes if regulation policies are to be effective then regulators should understand the internal management of the companies if performance targets are to be attained.


    Witcher, Barry J. and Chau, Vinh Sum (2014) Strategic Management: Principles and Practice (2nd Edition). Cengage Learning, Hampshire, 350 pp. ISBN 978-1-4080-6395-8.


    The purpose of Strategic Management: Principles and Practice is twofold: to provide a comprehensive and concise study of the basic principles and essentials for the strategic management of organizations, and to provide an account of developing practice as internal and external organizational environments change. The term, ‘organizations’, includes a wide range of different types including, for example, private, public and non-profit, together with a comprehensive range of sizes and structures of organizations. The scope of the book is international, going beyond examples of American and European experience to the emerging global economies, such as those of the BRICS countries. We have used many examples drawn from our own research. Strategic management is the direction and management of an organization in its entirety, subject to the strategic requirements of long-term purpose, overall objectives, and strategy. The basic principle is that an organization should build its strengths around its resources in ways to help it proactively adapt to change, so that it is able to influence its environment and over the long period be able to control its own destiny subject to the needs of its stakeholders. The management part of strategic management is every bit as important as the strategic or strategy part of strategic management. We have written this book in a way that we hope we have been true to our belief that management matters. The strategic management of organizations should be understood as an entire or whole process, not just as a collection of functional parts. In this sense, strategic management is the most challenging and arguably the most important function in an organization. The book introduces essential theory in ways to engage readers who have little or no business and management experience. Strategy and policy concepts are presented to help understand concisely, and easily, the prescriptive and emergent perspectives current in the subject area.

    Witcher, Barry J. and Chau, Vinh Sum (2010) Strategic Management: Principles and Practice. Cenage Learning, Andover, 352 pp. ISBN 978-1-84480-993-6.


    Global examples, multiple perspectives and dynamic presentation make this important new textbook the complete introduction for modern strategy courses. Encouraging students to be conscious of the perspectives, context and complexity that produce ideas about strategy, the experienced author team situate learning within a diverse range of environments to reflect the globalized and turbulent nature of today's business. Key Debates situated in every chapter provide a balanced introduction and highlight the subject's vibrancy by asking the student to tackle vital strategic questions such as: Are the five forces still relevant for today? Do boards control their executives? Should strategy be stable over time, or should it be changing? And is related better than unrelated diversification? Case Studies, Business Vignettes, Key Terms, Guided Further Reading and detailed Chapter References round out a comprehensive pedagogical framework while a complete supplements package ensures you can seamlessly integrate Witcher & Chau into your teaching for 2010 and beyond.

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Total publications in KAR: 52 [See all in KAR]
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Dwi Kurniawan: BSCs in Networks: Indonesian SME's

Donna Knowles: What effect, if any, does the use of social media have on dynamic capabilities?

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Last Updated: 09/12/2014