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How do manufacturing firms respond to floods? Adaptation between proaction, reaction and inaction in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Authors: Roxana Leitold*, University of Cologne, Institute of Geography, Javier Revilla Diez, University of Cologne, Institute of Geography
Topics: Economic Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Adaptation, Flood, Risk, Manufacturing firms, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Regular flooding pose continuous stress to small and medium enterprises, which represent the backbone of the economy, particularly in developing countries. Firms in the manufacturing sector are at the frontline in terms of loss and damage caused by flooding as they are characterized by hard-to-change infrastructure and a strong dependence on the down- and upstream supplier system. To date, adaptation research widely neglects the firms’ perspective on flooding. Moreover, a clear understanding of how and under which conditions firms develop individual and collective adaptation strategies is still lacking. We fill this gap through addressing manufacturing firms in flood-exposed areas in Ho Chi Minh City and assess how they respond to the uncertainty of flooding. This study provides an actor-centred analysis, drawing on a mixed-methods approach. First, we decipher exemplary patterns of adaptive strategies and reveal influencing factors hampering the implementation of adaptive action based on in-depth interviews. Second, drawing on scenario-based field experiments, we capture the capacity and willingness of local firms to contribute to collective flood-adaptation initiatives. The majority of firms introduce different adaptation strategies from proaction to reaction, but do not pursue long-term strategies or act jointly to manage flood risks. Rather, the firms’ response is shaped by a broader institutional embeddedness, different actor constellations and relies on external support mechanisms. Consequently, public policies should facilitate external conditions such as the capacities of local authorities and make use of existing business networks in order to pave the way to enabling firms’ local adaptation.

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