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Managing employee ideas and creativity in Thailand: Challenges and key factors for success

Ronrapee Leelawong, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The management of employee ideas is becoming increasingly important to organizations around the world. Because they are the ones doing the work, employees have a great many ideas to save time, energy, and money, reduce or eliminate non-value adding activity, reduce environmental impact, or improve their organizations in some other ways. The management of employee ideas has been widely studied in developed countries, and while research into this topic in Thailand and other developing nations is still scant, academic researchers and business practitioners agree that the good management of employee ideas and creativity in such countries will produce benefits akin to those experienced in developed nations. This study aimed to identify the factors that lead to the success of idea management initiatives in Thailand and the challenges that can undermine them. It also investigated the effects of Thai cultural values, norms, and personal characteristics, and the impacts of green initiatives in Thailand on employee ideas and creativity. Eleven Thai organizations were studied, using interviews, direct observations, and archival data. In addition, a small quantitative survey was administrated in all the companies and in a local MBA class. Data analyses identified nine factors that lead to success in managing employee ideas and creativity in Thailand. Three factors stand out as the key differentiators: dedicated resources, reward and recognition schemes, and consultancy utilization. The six Thai cultural values identified from literature and this study were seniority, face-concern, low self-discipline, easy-going style, low selflearning, and confrontation-avoidance. They proved to significantly affect the management of employee ideas and creativity, mostly in negative ways, but occasionally positively. Finally, the analysis of the data on green initiatives in Thailand confirms that they improve a company’s performance: they help it cut costs, comply with laws and regulations, and enhance its public image. A holistic view of the data and subsequent analyses suggest that green initiatives also improve both innovation and continuous improvement performance. The factors leading to successful green initiatives include a company’s leadership and support of government and business associations, while challenges often come from front-line employees who are affected by the changes.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Leelawong, Ronrapee, "Managing employee ideas and creativity in Thailand: Challenges and key factors for success" (2011). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3482640.