Despite much fanfare, most Thai businesses still lack a true understanding of the Asean Economic Community, a survey has revealed.
Apiwut Pimolsaengsuriya, executive partner of Orchid Slingshot, said the online research conducted by his consulting firm clearly pointed to most businesses – small, medium and large – not having a good understanding of the principles and guidelines of the AEC, which comes into effect in 2015.
“I think this is among the first priorities we urgently have to tackle, in a bid to create true knowledge and understanding. Obviously, the campaigns implemented by the government or assigned agencies have not worked well, and this may result in the laying down of policy and strategy by Thai firms becoming ineffective,” he said.
The Orchid Slingshot survey was conducted during the third and fourth quarters of last year. It was participated in by 253 businesses, covering every type of operation with a production base in Thailand, elsewhere in Asean, and outside Asean.
The study found the most important source of information with regard to the AEC for Thai businesses was the mass media, followed by government agencies, and then private and educational institutes.
“The government should make use of different channels. Besides the media, it should use other channels such as business associations and clubs that are related to business, such as the Board of Trade and the Federation of Thai Industries, as well as education institutes,” said the executive partner.
The study also identified “people” as another challenging or problem area for businesses when it comes to their coping with the approach of the AEC, especially with regard to the issue of staff and management development, which is a key driver for enabling business success.
Moreover, the study found that Thai companies were still not doing well in terms of succession planning.
Vasin Oradidolchest, managing director of Orchid Slingshot, said the research had found that “baby boomers” viewed the AEC as more of an opportunity than did other age groups, since most of them are entrepreneurs or owners of businesses with a better understanding about the AEC.
Meanwhile, “Generation X” employees, who represent the largest chunk of the staffing pool, tend not to favour going abroad to work the most.
He said companies should be aware of this point and strive to manage the issue well, as many faced a shortage of experienced middle-level managers, as well as successors to take over their businesses.
“Seeing opportunity has a significant implication. The more they understand, the more they will see the opportunities presented by the AEC. Hence companies should promote more understanding among their staff,” Vasin added.