Thai Link "Road to Thailand"

Cholthanee Koerojna, President of Thai Link,
December, 1996

There is always the question of Thailand being right place for our career. This summary contains fact finding information from Thais which we hope will provide helpful information for your consideration.

From our experience in serving as a communication link between Thai agencies and Thais living abroad, Thai Link has come to a conclusion that the success of the Reverse Brain Drain project depends almost entirely on the establishment of a solid mutual understanding between the two groups. To facilitate this process, Thai Link has designed a set of Reverse Brain Drain Promotional media which convey information very effectively and precisely. Interview questions were developed and interviews have been taking place at various locations in the United States, United Kingdom and Thailand. Information that is being gathered will be disseminated at the career workshop, colleges, Thai temples, Thai organizations abroad and organizations in Thailand. Our major goal is to find the keys to success of this project Here is what we learned from the interviews.

Thai working Environment:

The family owned business management has changed to the multi-national working environment. There are many joint-venture companies which are managed by foreigners and modern Thais. These companies have adapted the Western and European working environment into the Thai working environment and are receptive nation-wide. The management group of Thailand companies are now in the hands of younger and modern generation. Therefore, the working environment is much different from 5-8 years ago. Salaries and benefits are very competitive. Most companies offer very good health care and benefit packages. Some companies offer stock options and hopefully more and more company will consider this as an option in the future. The growth of employees is evaluated by "performance" and professional development is always offered to employees. The most important fact that everyone must be aware of is the "Thai culture". To be successful in Thai workplace, the individual must understand both the multi-national and the Thai management styles because most of the time you have to deal with these two ideologies in the same workplace. Women now have as equal an opportunity as men in the workplace. There is no more gender discrimination in professional careers. However, there is still a belief that the labor force productivity is based on the age and gender work force.

Thais Living Abroad Who Wish to Return Home:

It's time to go home. There are many reasons why Thais who are currently living outside of Thailand are thinking about returning home. The group of people who are 45 years and older plan to return home after their children graduate from colleges. They wish to retire in their homeland and look for volunteer work for society. Some American born Thais wish to join their parents in the future because they were raised in Thai-American culture. Another group wants to return home because of company downsizing. The strongest reason for everyone is the "strong family ties" in Thailand..

Thais Living Abroad Who Do Not Wish to Return Home:

The major reasons are income, lifestyle, working environment, education for their children, traffic, pollution and family in the States. The people whose families do not have a solid financial foundation will not be able to settle their families in Thailand.

Thais Who Returned Home with Success:

They decided to return to work in Thailand because of challenging career opportunities in hi-tech industry and newly establishment jobs and organizational structure. They received good income and finanicial support for their families from the company. Yet the best part of returning home for them was the happiness at being with families in Thailand from whom they had been apart for many years.

Thais Who Returned Home with No Success:

This group of people did not earn enough income to support their families and their children's education. They could not adjust themselves in Thai workplace. They felt that they did not belong in the workplace. Their lifestyles had been changed so much and thus impacted to the families.


They expect to earn comparible income and compensation as they earn in the States. They would like to be recognized and respected as skilled professionals and hold a high position in the workplace when it is appropriate. They wish to hold dual citizenships and have the right to own real estate. The most important expectation is to be treated as a first class citizen of Thailand.


Some of them are treated as the "second class citizen" in Thailand. Speaking Thai in Thailand is sometimes a disadvantag for them comparing to the foreigners. They are faced with "Reverse Discrimination" as soon as they take their first step on the ground of the Kingdom of Thailand. The language barrier and culture differences make them feel uncomfortable among local Thais. They are always concerned that their skills and ideas may not be receptive from the senior professionals, then they will not be able to utilize their skills in the workplace.

Local Thais who do not believe in Reverse Brain Drain:

Some local hires do not believe that Thailand needs to hire expatriots. They are not happy to see the expatriots earn more money and work in better positions. They do not believe that the people from overseas will do a better job than the local Thais, sometimes even from the first day. Not all of the candidates from abroad are qualified professionals. The lack of qualification has caused political issue in the workplace because local Thais feel that the expatriots have too much priviledge.

Advices to Thailand from Thais Abroad:

Thailand should provide the following information: career opportunities, visas, rights, regulations for staying in Thailand, salary surveys, schooling and educational costs, cost of living, and Reverse Barin Drain policies. They would like to see the government agencies participate in the Reverse Brain Drain activitis abroad. In order to motivate Thais to come home, Thailand should understands their needs, give them priviledges and assistance, for examples, providing the quota at good school and colleges at all levels for their children, giving the assistance on traveling and relocation, warmly welcoming them.

Advices to Thai Link from Thai Professionals and Organization Representatives:

Thai Link is advised to continue their activities, relocate activities to many other big Thai communities and provide up to date information through World Wide Web, newsgroup, email and newsletters. Thai link should advertise more widely and expand activities to other countries such as United Kingdom, France and Australia by request funding support from the government. If the government does not give support, Thai link should "quit" because this is the government's job, not a job for an individual or organization such Thai link.

Keys to Success of Reverse Brain Drain Project:

The success of Taiwanese and Korean Reverse Brain Drain projects has motivated Thailand and other countries to pursue this type of project for the success of their country's development. A consultation with Dr. Richard Chang, Project Manager, Memory Operations Semiconductor (MOS) group of Texas Instruments, gave us some keys to the success of the Reverse Brain Drain project of Thailand. We believe that these key factors will help Thailand to succeed its goal.

  1. Supporting Government
  2. Supportive Environment: Society Respect, Social Stability, Education, and Atmosphere
  3. Private Industry Provides the Opportunities: Give them good jobs.
  4. Incentive and Attractions for the People to Stay: Offer good reward, sense of accomplishment and ownership in addition to good salary, e.g. stock option...etc.
  5. Good Programs to Balance the Expatriots and the Local Hires

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