Sasin Journal of Management 2010 Special Edition – From the Editor

 

SJM 2010 Special Edition - From the Editor

According to Zygmunt Bauman, the world is transforming from Solid Phase Modernity into Liquid Phase Modernity, which is a world that is in a transient wax-like state. In this particular state, people interact with each other with open multiplicity, local overlapping, and self-reflexivity. As a result of these constant transformations, hyper conflict, paradox, and instability are the norm, and globalization is the underlying cause.

In the end, it is mandatory for every country to withstand or reduce the force of clashes resulting from the world besieged with risks as well as opportunities. To survive in such a world, each country must have sufficient immunity, having both a strong economic architecture and a strong social architecture. On the one hand, a strong economic architecture entails a conducive macroeconomic environment, efficient public and private sectors and, good basic infrastructure to foster economic growth (World Economic Forum, WEF). On the other hand, having a strong social architecture is directly associated with the achievement of social quality, which is reflected through social empowerment, social inclusion, socio-economic security, and social cohesion (the European foundation for social quality, EFSQ).

It is unsettling that, during the past decade, both the economic and social architecture of Thailand have alarmingly deteriorated. The root of this problem stems from the long-existing problems of imbalances in many dimensions. Like a house, when a country’s foundation is not strong, any further improvements put into it are a waste of resources. Likewise, policies, strategy, and budgets of a dysfunctional country are either outright ineffective or intermittently effective, and momentum of development cannot be sustained. Thus, real and sustainable changes cannot be achieved.
In the world of liquid phase modernity, Thailand is facing two strategic gaps—global competitiveness, and national cohesiveness. These two gaps are caused by 1. Regimental imbalance 2. Development imbalance 3. Governmental imbalance and 4. Cultural imbalance.
In the context of nation-state, Thailand has been struggling with nation development vs. state development since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1902. State development is achieved through rapid and continual bureaucratization while nation development is achieved through democratization, which has been slow in progress and stuck in the vicious cycle between elected governments and governments brought about by coup d’états. It is time for us to decide how we can carry on as a nation and as a state, how we can live in peace and harmony under commonly accepted rules, and how we can bring about “Institutional Rebalance”, which is essential to correct the regimental imbalance in Thailand.
The second major imbalance that Thailand has is the development imbalance between economic wealth, environmental wellness, human wisdom, social well-beings. Past development trajectory has a skew toward economic wealth, while neglecting the other three equally indispensible components.
Next, Thailand is facing a governmental imbalance that has exacerbated into a national crisis. This is called “poor governmentality” that is reflected by the 4 central problems of our government, namely Clear-Care-Fair-Share. Clear refers to good governance in public and private sectors. Thailand is ill-equipped to accept but will eventually be forced to accept the global good governance.
Finally, the country has to deal with the cultural imbalances in the liquid phase modernity. We have to deal with opposing forces and influence of global culture, national culture, local culture, and cosmopolitan culture. The influence of global culture and cosmopolitan culture is challenging the Westphalian Idea of Sovereignty, and replacing it with Shared Political Responsibility that transcends the sovereignty of one country in many dimensions and levels.
All of these imbalances of liquid phase modernity bring Thailand to a crossroads. The post-Westphalian world renders the political, economic, and social spheres of any state-nation which is utterly helpless to adapt to the new world and rules. Many policies and strategies formulated under national contexts will not function well because they fail to take into account the transnational contexts. Change is the order of the day in the world of liquid phase modernity. Thus, the question is not limited to whether we have the will to change, but also whether we have the capacity to drive those changes.
To move Thailand forward with confidence, its leader must have both the genuine will and ability to change Thailand in order to deal with the inevitable force of global changes, especially the capacity to deal with the evermore imposing risks, challenges, and crisis in many forms, levels, and dimensions.
In this second special edition of Sasin Journal of Management (SJM), you will find articles written by Thailand’s thought leaders and visionaries, whose work may indicate directly or indirectly the challenges in the liquid phase modernity. The first part of the collection presents three critical agendas required for comprehensive understandings of the new global landscape. In The World of Imbalance: Conflict between the Powered and the Powerless, Dr. Amara Pongsapich provides an analysis of paradigm shifts in theoretical perspective and social values, which inevitably translate to changing social relationships, and was found to be associated with most contemporary conflicts. The following article by Dr. Thanong Bidaya illustrated well the global economic rebalancing taking place, and how Thailand economic management can be improved to accommodate these changes. Global discussions and consensus to address the problem of global warming is the focus of Climate Change: Post-Copenhagen Issues, by Than Phu Ying Suthawan Ladawan Sathirathai. Commenting on the unsuccessful outcome of Copenhagen Accord negotiations, implications for developing countries and Thailand are provided. In the second part, a window of opportunity for achieving global rebalance is examined. Sompol Kiatphaibool and Veerathai Santiprabhob suggest the significance of improving Thai capital market to ensure sustainability and resiliency of the nation’s economic growth. To enhance Thailand’s capacity in the creative industries, Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee provides explanation on how growth can be attributable to the development of creative economy, and vice versa. In The Mae Fah Luang: The Social Transformation Model for the 21st Century, M.R. Disnadda Diskul discusses the concept of sustainability, and share experiences of his own successful company which go beyond CSR to place social purpose at its core. In the last article, Dr. Nares Damrongchai proposes Scenario Planning as a tool used in the process of national strategic planning, given the new global environment full of multi-dimensional challenges and uncertainties. Possible future paths for Thailand obtained from the workshop are thoroughly illustrated.
As the Director of Sasin Institute for Global Affairs (SIGA), I would like to thank our partners for their invaluable contributions. I hope that this special edition of SJM will provide you the insights to understand and deal with the challenges of change of the modern world.