• Wilson Teo Yong Peng

Student thesis: Doctor of Business Administration


This thesis explores the Thai business model, its history and culture, and the challenges of working with expatriates from the perspectives of Thai employees. Given Thailand's rich and complex history, difference in working styles between Thais and expatriates is not unexpected. This research aims to provide a detailed analysis of this relatively neglected field. Generally, there is a dearth of literature in the English language that reflects the perspectives of Thais regarding their working relationship with expatriates. In-depth information on Thai traditional values and culture in the English language is not readily available due in part to many Thai words not having English equivalents. This has led to a lack of in-depth knowledge about Thai employees, their working attitudes and the elements that make Thais what they are today. Thailand is not known as exemplary in terms of business ethics, professionalism or efficiency. Does this mean that management methods from developed nations are superior and could be applied wholly in Thailand? Would it be possible for Western expatriates to apply their management techniques across the board within the Thai business context, where culture and traditional values are deeply embedded?In seeking insights to these questions and possible solutions, and to obtain in-depth and rich information, this study adopts the survey method and uses interviews conducted with twenty Thai employees who work regularly with expatriates. The findings reveal that Thai working culture is multi-faceted and extremely complex, and that there are significant differences between Thai and expatriate cultures and attitudes that remain poorly understood. Furthermore, despite the conventional belief that Western management methods are superior and should be applied to the Thai business model, the evidence suggests that some Thai traditional values might actually be beneficial for both parties, as well as the organisation they are working for. This study has found that whilst it might be true that some Western influences can be positive, such as the reduction of high-level corruption and a focus on time management, certain traditional values might be worthwhile for expatriates to assimilate, such as kreng jai (similar to being considerate) and hen jai (similar to being understanding). This thesis concludes by suggesting that a compromise or middle ground approach is the way forward for both Thais and expatriates, where the merits of their respective work cultures could complement the other to achieve the overall well-being of the organisation and the people working in it.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJohn Hassard (Supervisor) & Leo Mccann (Supervisor)


  • Culture
  • Expatriate

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