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The resistance in management accounting practices towards a neoliberal economyPurpose – The purpose of this study is to investigate the resistance in management accounting practices (MAPs) in a developing economy in the manufacturing and service sectors in Vietnam. Design/methodology/approach – Data collection was carried out using survey questionnaires in Vietnamese language. The questionnaires were distributed to selected respondents from the manufacturing and service organisations in Vietnam. Textual structuralism was used to analyse different categories of data, i.e. survey questionnaires, photos and qualitative texts obtained from the literature. Findings –The findings indicate that the usage of MAPs is more prevalent in the manufacturing sector than in the service sector. In addition, various traditional and contemporary MAPs are being used concurrently in Vietnam, which challenges the classical twofold dichotomy between mere socialism and mere neoliberalism. Research limitations/implications – The textual and photographic structuralism is used in this study to analyse primary data (geography and society and time) in a static setting. Hence, it does not analyse the research phenomena in a dynamic equilibrium setting to view the development of the research phenomena over time. Further research could expand data collection to include longitudinal and dynamic settings. Practical implications – MAPs can be implemented in economic systems ranging from command to capitalist systems. Although most countries in the world follow a mixed economic system, specific MAPs could be designed for a transitional economic system such as that of Vietnam. This affects both theorists and practitioners in Vietnam applying sustainable MAPs to boost a country’s competitiveness during transition. Originality/value – This study expands understanding of the conformity of MAPs in relation to economic systems under the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) – the ruling party of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Understanding the differences in the way these MAPs are utilised constitutes an essential area of the accounting discipline to advance MAPs in Vietnamese enterprises and progress theoretical development of sustainable MAPs.