Managing in Thailand
Traditional Customs in a Modern Economy
There are many reasons why people flock to Thailand. The country is known as the "Land of a Thousand Smiles," and it bursts with culture and natural beauty. It boasts world-famous food, is relatively cheap, and has some of the friendliest and most polite people in the world.
Thailand is an economic success story, and the World Bank considers it to be an upper-middle income economy. Its capital and largest city, Bangkok, has around nine million inhabitants, and it looks and feels like a modern Asian metropolis. Thailand is the second-richest country in Southeast Asia, and the World Bank ranks it 32nd in the world in its latest GDP league table, between Colombia and South Africa.
However, Thailand's recent political history is also marked by instability and violence. In recent years, democratically elected governments have been forced out by the military after huge street protests, and terrorist actions have dominated the headlines.
In this article, we'll explore how to live and work successfully in Thailand, whether you're managing a remote team or working with Thai team members.
This article is intended as a general guide only. So, consider each person's unique needs and use your own best judgment, when managing a team in Thailand.
Thai Life and Culture
Thailand is situated in Southeast Asia, and is bordered by Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia. It also has coasts on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. It sits in the northern hemisphere tropics, so the weather is largely warm and dry from November to April, and hot and wet from May to October.
Thailand is situated in Southeast Asia, and is bordered by Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia. It also has coasts on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.
Around 95 per cent of Thailand's population is Buddhist, and this has a huge impact on its culture. People follow "Theravada" Buddhism, which has been moulded by their widespread beliefs in spirits and ghosts, as well as residual Hindu influences. Thais believe that respect for other people is important, and that open displays of conflict or negative emotions have undesirable consequences. Bear in mind that people are hugely respectful of the king, the royal family, and Buddha, so be careful not to criticize them.
Thais are strong believers in hierarchy, in the workplace and in society, and families are usually very close-knit. Your age, social position and wealth can affect your place in the hierarchy, so expect personal questions from your team members, as they try to determine where you fit. It's essential to appreciate rank and age, which means that you should treat the eldest person in any group with respect....