The paper investigates institutional reforms in Vietnam and their impact on the economic performance of firms. Using the provincial competitiveness index 2006 (PCI06) and firm-level data in Vietnam in 2005, the results show that provincial competitiveness is economically and statistically significant in explaining cross-province differences in firm performance. We find that a 1% point improvement in government practice could increase the daily value-added of an average firm by an amount equivalent to nearly three times per capita GDP per day. The results show that an improvement in providing market information, more secure land tenure and labor training assistance has a positive effect on firm performance. By contrast, weaknesses in the judiciary system and administrative reforms impede growth of non-state firms. The findings indicate that governance is an important obstacle to the development of the non-state sector in Vietnam.