The Thick Black and White Ocean among Buddhist Pilgrimage Tourist Operators in Thailand



Nithisathian, Kittichok, Lavanchawee Sujarittanonta and John Walsh, “The Thick Black and White Ocean among Buddhist Pilgrimage Tourist Operators in Thailand,” Journal of Social and Development Studies, Vol.7, No.3 (2016), pp.11-19, available at:


The White Ocean strategy proposed by Thai scholar Danai Chanchaochai addresses management based on Buddhist philosophy, and emphasizes the society first before looking to oneself. At the same time, there is also the concept of Black Ocean, or Hòuhēixué (厚黑學) which translates to Thick Black Theory, proposed by Li Zongwu (李宗吾). Theoretically, an understanding of both white and black can lead the businessman to adjust his plans for better performance. Therefore, this research examines both Black and
White concepts in the context of religious tourism, by collecting business data from tour operators that offer pilgrimage packages to Buddhists. It was found that the Buddhist aspect of the religious tour businesses puts “Blackness” profiteering goals in the background by building a “White” image of charity and donations, thus suggesting that the Black and White co-exists and are inseparable, similar to the middle path or yin-yang
balance in nature.
Keywords: White Ocean Strategy, Black Ocean Strategy, religious tour operators

The Mobility of Theravadin Buddhist Monks in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region


Putthithanasombat, Phramaha Min, Petcharat Lovichakorntikul and John Walsh, “The Mobility of Theravadin Buddhist Monks in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region,” paper to be presented at the International Conference on Commerce, Financial Markets and Corporate Governance/2nd International Conference on Research Methods in Management and Social Sciences (Shinawatra University, Thailand: February 7th, 2015).


In the Theravadin Buddhist tradition, the monk is a central figure in enabling people to generate good karma by donating food on the morning rounds, in addition to activities based in the wat (temple). The mobility of monks, therefore, is an important issue and has, historically, been evident throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, where there were no formal state barriers prior to the European colonization period and many porous borders continue to exist. However, the post-colonial period has been characterized by a series of repressive state regimes that have sought to limit the mobility of monks, in particular, as well as imposing other forms of social control. This paper uses an ethnographic approach to understanding the nature of monk mobility in the research area and the issues arising from it. Monks must behave in an entirely ethical manner but, it is shown, they still have some scope to compromise with the constraints placed upon them according to the concept of everyday political behaviour – that is, choosing how to comply with restrictions in ways which are conversant with spiritual and practical goals.

Keywords: Greater Mekong Sub-Region, monkhood, Theravadin Buddhism, travel

Review of Abu-Sankara’s Interplay: An Artist’s Approach to Spirituality


Living in a country where the majority of people are Buddhists, I am familiar with the idea that people can discover great truths about themselves, the universe and the interactions between the two from searching the inner being. It is not a method that is instinctively appealing to me but so many people derive benefit from meditation that it can hardly be dismissed.

Read the full review here.

Review of Kitiarsa’s Monks, Mediums and Amulets

My review of Pattana Kitiarsa’s Monks, Mediums and Amulets has now been published as part of the SIU Journal of Management Special Supplement (

Kitiarsa, Pattana, Monks, Mediums, and Amulets:
Thai Popular Buddhism Today
, SIU Journal of Management, Vol.3, No.S1
(May, 2013), pp.150-3, available at:

Cross-Border Exchanges in the Western Mekong Region: The Role of Monks and the Laity


This paper, by Pramaha Min Putthithanasombat, Petcharat Lovichakorntikul, Sirirat Ngamsang and myself, has been accepted for presentation at the forthcoming ICGBE Conference to be held in June here in Bangkok.


The legacy of history, nationalism and lack of trust have contributed to the comparatively poor cross-border relations in the Mekong Region and, in particular, between Thailand and its majority Buddhist neighbours Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. These relations tend to obscure the common features that unite the people of the region. Principal among these commonalities is the tradition of Theravadin Buddhism, which is the form practiced and which places particular emphasis of the role of monks and the importance of doing virtuous works as part of the process of spiritual development that will eventually lead towards nirvana. Linguistic differences across borders are mediated by the underlying reliance on the Pali language, which is used to record and transmit Buddhist teachings. Many cross-border activities take place on an informal basis in which individual learn how to communicate with each other. One aspect of this is travel for pilgrimage and knowledge-seeking purposes, both monks and lay people cross the borders concerned, although little research has been conducted into this form of tourism. Using personal interviews of people concerned, this research study has been intended to delineate the extent to which these kinds of cross-border movements take place, their impacts in terms of improving social relations and economic growth and, also, the opportunities for enhancing educational opportunities for those involved.

Keywords: Buddhism, cross-border travel, Mekong Region, Thailand.

The Buddhist Perspective of International Labour Management: A Case Study of Laotian, Myanmar and Cambodian Labour in the Service Industry in Thailand


Paper to be presented at the forthcoming SIU Conference on January 30th-31st, 2013 by Phramaha Min Putthithanasombat and John Walsh.


It is important to note that managing an international workforce requires teamwork, especially when there are multiple ethnicities, nationalities and representatives of different cultures working together on the same project. Not only is it necessary to consider the principles of general management in this respect but also international labour analysis and good governance policy will be required in order to implement management systems properly Moreover, abiding by the laws and regulations in a particular country in a transparent manner, following the principles of morality and ethical practices and providing the international workers with a chance of participating in decision-making and taking responsibility for the organization are also vital factors in international labour management. In one particular organization in Thailand, international workers from Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia are Buddhists. Data from focus groups, interviews and direct observation indicated that the ability and willingness of the business owners to provide an appropriate level of remuneration, full service room and board and other necessary facilities including supportive efforts from entrepreneurs will all have an impact on the performance of employees. Getting these issues right is likely to lead to the inspiration of loyalty and commitment from employees which will increase their competencies and their performance at work as a whole. This paper reports on research conducted into the international labour management system evident in a service industry organization in Thailand according to the Buddhist perspectives basing on Sanghavutthudhamma 4 and Disa 6, which are foundational principles of basic Buddhism in living and working together. The findings from this study will be drawn upon and recommendations made as a result for good governance in human resource management.

Keywords: Buddhist Perspective, Labour Management, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand