The consequences of “Greng jai” on Thailand’s Competitveness

This Bangkok Post Article from June 2009 has wonderful insight into some of the problems created because of the Thai concept of “greng jai.” The author discusses how asking questions, particularly if they are perceived as challenging, can be confounding and aggravating for Thai elders. As a result, many Thai students and employees have learned not to ask questions. As any teacher in Thailand knows, its so hard to get Thai students to ask questions and have an open discussion.

In the business world, this aspect of Thai culture has made Thailand less competitive in the global economy as many Thai businesses fail to evolve and progress. Thai-style management often results in having employees who don’t ask, don’t question and don’t confront. because they don’t want to be considered rude or aggressive. Everyone ends up waiting for the boss’ say since he is the one with the highest authority.

While “greng jai” is an embedded part of Thai culture, how can we overcome some of the negative consequences in the classroom and workplace that result from it. If not, we as a society and a country will not really go anywhere far. What happens so many times in Thailand, we will end up leisurely working towards an unknown destination while waiting for others to make the big decisions and think for us.

Source: Bangkok Post June 9, 2009

Article: That which nourishes Thailand may destroy Thailand

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