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Thái Lan (Văn hóa Kinh doanh)


A Thai Overview

Known as the Land of smiles, Thailand is a country of natural beauty, tropical climate and hospitable people. Thailand, previously called Siam, is the only Southeast Asian county never to have been taken over by a European power. Thai people are very proud of this and it is reflected in their culture. However, foreign colonial power in the countries surrounding Thailand has resulted in a large external influence, especially in Bangkok, offering a good balance between foreign and Thai culture. With a sense of humour and a welcoming attitude, Thais are pleasant people who value the Buddhist tradition. Doing business successfully with Thai people requires understanding the values and beliefs of Thai society.

Thai Culture – Key Concepts and Values

Family – As the cornerstone of Thai society, family is given great value and importance. Thai families are close and several generations may live in the same house, with the oldest male being the head of the household. The power structure of the family is mirrored in the organisational environment. Advice from elders is expected to be followed without question although this is becoming less true with time and modernisation.

Indirect Communication – Being subtle and indirect is a valued characteristic in Thai culture. In communication, a considerable part of the information lies in the underlying messages or in the non-verbal cues. Not to lose face, Thai people avoid direct confrontations and criticism, if given at all, is delivered indirectly.

Hospitality – The essence of Thai people’s nature, hospitality is visible in both social and professional contexts. Thai people will welcome guests into their houses and show their generosity by offering anything they might have. Service is highly valued and given with a sense of modesty.

Phase 3: Specific knowledge acquisition:

1. Facts and Statistics

Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the AndamanSea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma


Climate: tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid

Population: 64,865,523

Ethnic Make-up: Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%

Religions: Buddhism 95%, Muslim 3.8%, Christianity 0.5%, Hinduism 0.1%, other 0.6%

Government: constitutional monarchy

2. Languages in Thailand

The Thai language is comprised of 44 consonants, 32 vowels and five tones in Thai pronunciation, along with a script that has Indian origins. The Thai language, belonging to the Tai family, is the main language in Thailand although there are several regional dialects as well.  Other languages spoken in Thailand are Chinese, Lao, Malay and Mon-Khmer, while English use is becoming more prevalent in government and commerce. English is also being taught as a second language in secondary school and universities, which enables the English speaking visitor in Thailand to have little trouble conversing.

3. Etiquettes and customs

Meeting Etiquette

. The wai (traditional Thai greeting) is the traditional form of greeting, given by the person of lower status to the person of higher status.

. Thais generally use first rather than surnames, with the honorific title Khun before the name. Khun is an all- purpose form of address that is appropriate for both men and women
. In general, wait for your host and hostess to introduce you to the other guests. This allows everyone to understand your status relative to their own, and thus know who performs the wai and how low the head should be bowed.

Gift Giving Etiquette


. If invited to a Thai’s home, a gift is not expected, although it will be appreciated.

. Gifts should be wrapped attractively, since appearance matters. Bows and ribbons add to the sense of festivity.

. Appropriate gifts are flowers, good quality chocolates or fruit.

. Do not give marigolds or carnations, as they are associated with funerals.

. Try to avoid wrapping a gift in green, black or blue as these are used at funerals and in mourning.
. Gold and yellow are considered royal colours, so they make good wrapping paper.

. Only use red wrapping paper if giving a gift to a Chinese Thai.

. Gifts are not opened when received.

. Money is the usual gift for weddings and ordination parties.


Dining Etiquette

If you are invited to a Thai’s house:

. Arrive close to the appointed time, although being a few minutes late will not cause offence.

. Check to see if the host is wearing shoes. If not, remove yours before entering the house.

. Ask another guest to confirm the dress code.

. Step over the threshold rather than on it. This is an old custom that may be dying out with younger Thais, but erring on the side of conservatism is always a good idea.

Table manners

. A fork and spoon are the usual eating utensils. However, noodles are often eaten with chopsticks.
. The spoon is held in the right hand and the fork in the left. The fork is used to guide food on to the spoon. Sticky rice, a northern Thai delicacy, is often eaten with the fingers of the right hand.

. Most meals are served as buffets or with serving platters in the centre of the table family- style.

. You may begin eating as soon as you are served.

. Leave a little food on your plate after you have eaten to show that you are full. Finishing everything indicates that you are still hungry.

. Never leave rice on your plate as it is considered wasteful. The words for food and rice are the same. Rice has an almost mystical significance in addition to its humdrum ‘daily bread’ function.

. Never take the last bite from the serving bowl.

. Wait to be asked before taking a second helping.

. Do not lick your fingers.

4. Thailand’s economy overview:

Thailand, a monarchy after a bloodless revolution in 1932, is divided into four distinct
geographical regions and borders Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. With a population
of over 10 million, the capital city of Bangkok is the most important city economically and
politically. Often portrayed as a culturally homogenous country, while original Thai people
make up the majority of the population there are about 75 other ethno-linguistic groups.

Heavily dependent on export, Thai economy is currently growing. While Thailand’s
traditional major markets have been North America, Japan, and Europe, economic recovery
among Thailand’s regional trading partners is becoming more important. In order to conduct
business successfully in Thailand, there are a number of important issues to take into

5. Business Etiquette and Protocol

Working practices in Thailand


. Normal office hours are 8 a.m. to 5p.m. or 9 a.m. to 6a.m. with lunch between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.

. It is acceptable to be a little late for meetings, as it is often unavoidable in Bangkok due to traffic jams, but calling to say that you are running late is appreciated.

. April and early May are the main holiday periods and business trips to Bangkok should be avoided during this time as many staff will be on leave.

. English is commonly used in business, especially in large companies in Bangkok, and presentations, proposals and contracts are acceptable in English. However, make sure to use fairly simple and non-idiomatic language and if language is a problem, interpreters should be offered.

Structure and hierarchy in Thai companies

. Thai business reflects a society in which hierarchy and respect for seniors are very important. Understanding social status of people and the vertical structure of a company is essential for doing business with the Thais.

. Traditionally, women were underrepresented in the business world and especially in managerial positions. However, this has changed and now women have equal rights and protection as men, although some inequalities remain in the law. An increasing number of women hold professional positions and women’s access to higher education has grown, with more than half of university graduates being women.

Relationships & Communication

. Thais prefer doing business with people they respect.

. Relationships develop slowly and do not flourish after one meeting; it may take several meetings.
. Always be respectful and courteous when dealing with others as this leads to the harmonious relationships necessary within business.

. Thai communication is formal and non-verbal communication is often more important than verbal communication.

. Rank is always respected. The eldest person in the group is revered.

. It is difficult for most Thais to say no, so you must be cognizant of their non- verbal communication.
. Watch your body language and facial expressions, as these will be believed over your words.

Business Meeting Etiquette


. Appointments are necessary and should be made one month in advance.

. It is good idea to send a list of who will be attending the meeting and their credentials so that Thais know the relative status of the people attending the meeting and can plan properly.

. You should arrive at meetings on time as it signifies respect for the person you are meeting.

. Although most Thais will try to be on time, punctuality is a personal trait.

. Always send an agenda and material about your company as well as data to substantiate your position prior to the meeting. Allow sufficient time for the material to be reviewed and digested.

. Remain standing until told where to sit. The hierarchical culture has strict rules about rank and position in the group.

. Written material should be available in both English and Thai.

. You must be patient.

Dress Etiquette


. Business attire is conservative.

. Men should wear dark coloured conservative business suits.

. Women should wear conservative business suits or dresses. Women need not wear hosiery.

. Since Thai’s judge you on your clothing and accessories, ensure that your shoes are always highly polished.

Business Cards


. Business cards are given out after the initial handshake and greeting. In theory, you should give your card to the most senior person first. . It is advisable to have one side of your business card translated into Thai.

. Using your right hand, deliver your business card so the Thai side faces the recipient.

. Look at a business card for a few seconds before placing it on the table or in a business card case. As in most Asian countries, it is polite to make some comment about the card, even if it is only to acknowledge the address.


6. Specific Skills Training

The specific skills training phase emphasizes the application and practice of the

skills necessary to succeed in the foreign culture. In this phase, “trainees analyze

the problem situation, diagnose the underlying cultural issues, and respond

accordingly” (Harrison, 1994).

Simulations, behavior modeling, case studies and traditional training are widely used for the application and practice of previously acquired knowledge.

  • Simulated cocktail party (Earley, 1987): improve greetings, introductions, etiquette skills and appropriate topics for conversation. This method help to avoid cross-cultural misunderstandings and create a natural friendly environment with:

ü      Thais’ formal pose of greeting

ü      Introduction approachs: Degrees, especially from prestigious universities, bring status. Thais may list these on their business card. Thais respect foreigners with powerful connections.

ü      The way of serving food and beverage

ü      How to open a conversation in Thais’ way

ü      Prevent taboo words and rude actions

  • Behavior modeling by Harrison (1992): an effective cross-cultural training tool worked effectively for managers:

ü      Watch live or videotaped models demonstrating effective behaviors.

ü      Rehearse the demonstrated behaviors

ü      Make feedback to improve the results

  • Case studies: learn how to solve misunderstandings and conflicts between the negotiations. Build a default systematic form for an negotiations with Thais people:

ü      First meetings generally produce good humor, many smiles, polite conversation and few results.

ü      The second meeting should include a meal invitation. Meetings begin with small talk.

ü      Discussing business before becoming acquainted is impolite.

ü      Negotiations may be lengthy. Process takes precedence over content. Slow information flow may delay discussions and decisions.

  • Traditional training:

ü      Make sure the staff, even managers adapt to Thais’ working culture.

ü      Focus on planning, organizing, leading and controlling skills when working with Thais people.

ü      Respect power distance leading to appropriate behaviors toward senior or leader.

 Bài viết sử dụng tư liệu của nhóm sinh viên khoa EBBA (NEU)

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