The IFRD Conference held at the BBD Building, Shinawatra University, has now been held successfully. Below are the abstracts and photos of the papers with which I was associated.
Here, to begin with, is Dr. Cornelis Reiman, who delivered the keynote speech.
His speech had the title ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’ In lieu of an abstract (which is not needed for a keynote speech), here are the opening paragraphs:
commerce. My father was an accountant and I had jobs after school since the age of ten that continued until I was twenty years old. This had taught me about the value of effort, and of money. Then, when at university, I studied economics and accounting. Later, I worked with Arthur Andresen& Co as a corporate auditor of a variety of clients, in terms of size and industry type, in all components of their business. Next, I was with IBM, where I held technical, sales, marketing, management and executive positions.
I also worked as a high-level management consultant. In doing so, I provided a wide range of private clients with strategic and operational advice in accounting, finance, board reporting, organisational and business development, as well as marketing and computing. The common factor was the need for chief executives, and boards, to find a quick and practical answer to a pressing business issue. Clients included the chartered accounting firm of Touche Ross & Co., Greenpeace, The Wilderness Society, as well as Federal Government agencies in Australia and commercial businesses. During this time, by chance, I became State President of the Economic Society of Australia and that was when I entered the city of academia. I was asked to teach at the University Adelaide, and as I travelled the streets of this new city, I also lectured at Monash University. There, I focussed on postgraduate international economics, business and management subjects. After that, I was fortunate to work in pivotal, executive roles at two universities. One was Shinawatra International University in Thailand, being traditional, with face-to-face teaching, and the other was Universitas 21 Global in Singapore, a premium business school that was entirely online.
The first day was Saturday, June 14th and the first of our papers was delivered by Nancy Huyen Nguyen, who discussed “Thai Workforce- Ready for ASEAN Economic Community 2015?”
ASEAN countries are moving briskly towards the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. Together with monetary and technological resources, human resources are also vital for ASEAN countries stay competitive in the single market of AEC. Taking the case of Thailand, this paper evaluates the readiness of the Thai workforce in preparing for the integration. It brings to light several fundamental issues of the Thai workforce: (1) the quality of labor in Thailand remains moderate; (2) productivity continues to stay behind other ASEAN countries such as Singapore. The failure of the Thai educational system and the workforce skill mismatch are primary attributes to the workforce’s relatively low skill levels and productivity. Based on the empirical analysis, the paper suggests renewing the role of the Thai government in restructuring the national education system as well as cooperating workforce skill planning into the master development plan.
Keywords workforce, labor, workers, Thailand, ASEAN, ASEAN Economic Community
Next up was Sirirat Ngamsang, who spoke on the subject “China, USA and Thailand: The Impact of International Relationships on a Modern Economy.”
The relationship between China and the USA is becoming one of the most important relationships in the system of international relations and helps define the ways in which international trade and investment take place. Although the two countries are not open rivals as was the case with the USA and Soviet Union during the Cold War, they do have differing visions for the future, which might be summarized as the difference between the Washington Consensus and the Beijing Consensus. This form of competition may be seen in third party countries, where American and Chinese corporations vie for market access and scarce resources. In the case of Thailand, China has historically been of great importance as a powerful neighbour and because so many ethnic Chinese have migrated to Thailand and infused Thai society with a powerful Chinese element. China’s corporations are coming increasingly important in the economy and may be replacing the American influence which increased in importance during the Second Indochinese War. Will, as some fear, the increasing Chinese economic influence also have a political influence that will be contrary to the wishes of the Thai people for greater freedom of expression and desire for creativity? This paper investigates the changing role of China in the Thai economy in the context of historical factors and international relations and draws conclusions from this analysis.
Keywords: Beijing Consensus, China, international relations, Thailand, USA, Washington Consensus
Moving to the second day, Sunday June 15th, the first speaker was Prapti Proudyal, who spoke on the subject “Job Satisfaction among Doctors Working in Hospitals in Kathmandu, Nepal.”
Increasing emphasis is being laid by organizations on the psychosocial wellbeing of staff to enhance efficiency of operations. Job satisfaction results from a pleasurable or positive emotional state arising from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences and it is a central part of psychosocial wellbeing. This is particularly true for medical doctors, who are vital providers of medical services in the community. For a high level of healthcare to be delivered, those responsible should be experiencing good job satisfaction since the interpersonal relationships involved are so important. This study explores the job satisfaction of medical doctors working in hospitals in the public and private sector in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Since this research is exploratory in nature, a qualitative approach was adopted and involved in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. A purposive sampling method was adopted so as to include doctors in a diverse range of specialisations, years of experience and position within the hospital. It was found that the primary source of satisfaction for all doctors is appreciation from patients and community as a whole. They are also satisfied that they are doing something noble for humanity. Dissatisfaction was overwhelmingly financial, relationship with administration and workload in the absence of supervision. Senior doctors seem to be very satisfied with all aspects of the job. Dissatisfaction is mainly found in residents and medical officers. However, none of the doctors showed even a hint that they considered quitting the medical profession completely.
Keywords: hospital, job satisfaction, Kathmandu, psychosocial wellbeing
Next up was MBA student Aye Aye Htun, who spoke on the subject “A Study of the Business Network Internationalization Process Model in Myanmar: Literature Review.”
Abstract: The business network internationalization process model is a development of the interaction and network approach that emerged from the Uppsala school in the late 1970s and which helped revolutionize the understanding of marketing. Until the network approach, marketing decisions were assumed to be based on the rationality of microeconomics, perhaps supplemented by the addition of transaction cost analysis. Since then, the role of inter-personal and inter-organizational relationships has been incorporated into frameworks and this has permitted the creation of much more sophisticated and meaningful models of the relationships within networks of market actors. However, this approach was developed in the context of advanced western European economies and the firms who prosper within them. It is far from certain that it will be suitable for application in an emerging economy such as that of Myanmar, where there is a significant lack not just of physical infrastructure and connectivity but also a legal system to support commercial activities and relevant support services such as translation and legal advice, marketing, advertising, design and packaging services. This paper consists of a literature review that has been prepared for a research project to investigate the issues outlined above.
Then we had Reema Thakur, who spoke on the subject “Changing Work and Life Aspirations among Nepalese Women: A Hofstedian Approach.”
Nepal is a developing country in which women continue to face discrimination on a number of fronts. This includes unequal treatment with respect to access to food, healthcare, education, employment, control of the means of production and decision-making ability. The majority of Nepalese people still hold misconceptions about the potential that women have in the economic, political and social spheres, as exemplified by the commonly used proverb that a son brightens the world, while a daughter brightens the kitchen. However, societies change as a result of the processes of globalization and the intensification of capitalism and Nepal is no exception to this. Women have new aspirations and expectations of their work and their personal lives as opportunities emerge and social relations may be renegotiated. This paper reports on personal interviews with a sample of Nepalese women in a diverse range of personal circumstances. To provide a framework of analysis for the interviews, the Hofstedian approach to the exploration of cultures has been employed. By examining the findings against the background of the dimensions of masculinity, power distance, individualism, uncertainty avoidance and long-term commitment, it is possible to discern the causes and effects of change in Nepalese society and, in particular, gender relations.
Keywords: gender relations, globalization, Hofstede, Nepal
I also delivered some papers myself, two on behalf of presenters who were unable to attend and one on my own behalf.
Deep-Fried Locusts and Stinky Tofu: Performing and Consuming Street Food in Thailand and Taiwan
Abstract: One of the principal attractions for tourists to East Asian cities is the colourful and exotic street food to be found, often in profusion. Some examples of these common snacks have become internationalized and recreated in the upmarket restaurants of the world. Others, however, remain stubbornly unloved by anyone apart from their long-term and traditional adherents. In recent years, street food has been transformed by the spread of fast-food outlets that seem to have opened in nearly every street of every large city of the region. Western foods, powerfully marketed and configured to be addictive in taste and increasingly available through convenience store chains, represent a significant threat to street food providers. In response, providers have sought to introduce new varieties in their product offerings and, in some cases, injected new theatrical elements into their performances of production and consumption. This paper introduces case studies of different locations in Thailand and Taiwan that are known for their street food and examines them in terms of which larger societal and economic changes are reflected at the level of the streets and draws conclusions from those studies.
Key words (3-5 words): street food, performance, consumption, Taiwan, Thailand
Lavanchawee Sujarittanonta and John Walsh
Eco Industrial Estates in Thailand in International Comparative Perspective
Abstract: Eco-industrial estates are geographical territories bounded in time and space in which variations of the national legal system exist so as to promote investment in manufacturing facilities while also considering the possibility of negative environmental externalities. An eco-industrial estate aspires to be sustainable – that is, maximizing current production without sacrificing future prospects. However, there are many steps to be taken before it is possible to move from industrial estates today to those of the future where that sustainability can actually be achieved, no matter how attractive that prospect might appear. This paper examines the moves towards building genuine eco-industrial estates in Thailand and compares this situation with similar attempts that have been made elsewhere in the world. A model is proposed to act as a framework for analysis in this context and that model is then tested by using the data currently available. Conclusions and recommendations are drawn from this analysis.
Keywords: eco-industrial estates, sustainability, Thailand
Supaporn Pinyochatchinda and John Walsh
Cross-Border Connectivities Linking Thailand and Cambodia
The Asian Development Bank has identified connectivity as one of the principal means of promoting economic development in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Connectivity is usually defined in terms of physical infrastructure, in part because this is comparatively easy to quantify and, hence, measure progress. However, connectivity also includes a number of other dimensions, relating to soft infrastructure, inter- and intra-organizational links, virtual connections, personal connections and others. Each of these forms of connectivity produces both positive and negative externalities in the places where they are conducted and further afield. This is evident in the case of Thailand and Cambodia, where the border region has provided opportunities for international cooperation in terms of agricultural production, increased the demand for land and changed the nature of housing and retailing and, also, acted as a destination for migrant workers. Every border region, in the GMS and elsewhere, has different forms of development as a result of geographical, historical, cultural and economic factors and these all have impacts on the type of connectivity that is possible and that which is favoured as a result. This paper explores the different parts of the Thai-Cambodian border with a view to examining the various types of connectivity that might be found there and, from a principally economic perspective, evaluates their nature and importance. Despite political difficulties and the persistent problem of extreme nationalism, it is evident that economic value has been added, particularly around areas such as Aranyaprathet and Sa Kaeo province in general, where development and change have been rapid. The siting of carefully-planned special economic zones in this region might help to improve the current conditions, as well as increasing connectivity and this possibility is also explored with respect to the industrial policies being pursued in both Thailand and Cambodia.