Learning to run a business “Thai style” can prove trying for foreign entrepreneurs new to the Land of Smiles. A study carried out in 2008 by Dutch and French Chambers of Commerce showed that on average, an executive takes 13 months to be totally comfortable and effective in a Thai environment.
“The intercultural aspect represents an extremely heavy hidden cost for businesses”, according to Jean-François Cousin, business coach from Bangkok-based company 1-2 WIN. “Especially since the managerial staff generally changes here every three to four years.” At times, intercultural factors alone can block or considerably slow down the carrying out of projects.
“It took me months to understand that a study wasn’t moving forward because of a faux pas,” recalls an employee of a Bangkok-based French distribution company. “I made the mistake of criticising the work of a Thai colleague in public.” While training and accompaniment are necessary, the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) feels that this task is not its domain. “We do not deal with individual difficulties,” states the TCC’s President, Dusit Nonthanakorn.