Thailand 4.0 and Cultural Capital

The Thai Government is making efforts to introduce a policy, entailing the idea of an economy driven by innovation and technology, Thailand 4.0. The general inclination of the policy is towards the contemporary services sector and not the traditional, capital intensive industrial sector.  At the core, the policy aims to create a knowledge-based economy, rendering growth and value from a concoction of contemporary (science, technology and creativity) and traditional (culture) knowledge bases.

Thailand 4.0 is considered imperative in defining the country’s direction vis-à-vis development and growth. This article will cover the author’s perspective on using cultural capital, driving the country towards Thailand 4.0.  Primarily, the focus is on reaping economic benefits through an efficient management of cultural capital.


Observations on the concept of Thailand 4.0

First, Thailand 4.0 is not a novel concept. .  It could be observed that the Thai economy evolved over the time from being a capital-intensive economy to a labor-intensive economy. It could be guaged from the fact that services sector gained prominence over the time in comparison to the different capital-intensive sectors.  Thailand’s recent development can be highly attributed to the shift from capital intensive to knowledge intensive industries.  

Second, shift towards Thailand 4.0 is in line with the author’s concept of the 7 Waves proposed, 30 years ago. The zero to 4th Wave or the world 0.0 to 4.0 is happening at present because the world 4.0 or the 4th Wave, according to the author’s concept, is a knowledge-based society, coinciding with the concept of Thailand 4.0.

If, Thailand has to emerge as one of the leading nation of the world, the country has to ride on the crest of the wave 4.0.  Countries that are able to access the frontiers of knowledge, creating new technologies and high-end innovations, will be the winners and leaders of the world.

Third, aligning   the country to Thailand 4.0 is a step in the right direction. It is an appropriate solution to the challenges currently faced by the country in terms of a lacking in innovations and new technologies. Few factors, such as low and insufficient financial support on R&D, limited number of researchers, linient measures for the protection of intellectual properties, lack of co-ordination between the education institutions and the industry contribute to the lackings in innovations and bringing forth new technologies.  The author considers Thai Education Outcome as the major barrier to achieving Thailand 4.0 as the education system fails to instill creative and critical thinking skills in the students.   At the base of it, the author considers ineffeciencies in the investment fluidity creating ripple effects, mentioned above as the problems.

The aforementioned problems decrease the overall competitiveness of the country and the lower productivity. Thus, Thailand’s middle class is constantly struggling to make both ends meet.  For the sake of greater good Thailand 4.0, focusing on innovation, technology and the development of services sector, is a suitable approch.


bangkok-1990263_960_720How does the cultural capital drive the country to Thailand 4.0?

Capital in Economics is a factor that facilitates the production of goods and services. There are various types of capital, apart from machine and financial capital, cutural capital is another type of capital. It entails knowledge, wisdom and creativity. It is an intellectual property that has been accumulated throughout a longer period of time until the real value is realized in time.

The world is in and some parts are moving towards a knowledge-based society. Application and integration of cultrual capital in economic development is the reality Thailand 4.0, indirectly and directly is connected to the wider global picture.


Direct involvement : cultrual capital brings about value-added economics

Cultural capital generates value-addition because culture is an up stream of a value chain of creative industry.  Cultural stories and content can be branded to genuine and unique products, resulting in the creation of real value added through cultrally branded goods and services.

A good example is South Korea that is able to export the culture, vis-a-vis Entertainment; singers, actors, songs, TV drama series as well as food. Korea generated a value addition of USD 1.87 billion in 2004 and it was increased to USD 5 billion in 2013. It is expected that Korea’s cultural exports will grow to USD 10 billion 2017, double of what it was in 2013.


myanmar-1822564_960_720Indirect involvement: cultural capital advocates values and practices that foster innovation

A number of studies explained clearly that culture ( thininking, practices, beliefs and values) is one of the factors effecting innovation. Society with high ability in creating innovations usually has appropnate culture that fosters innovations. Such a culture is comprised of individualism, risk taking, vision and long-term viewpoints. While authoriarism, position-centeredness and eletism is dire to innovation. Furthermore, if people in the society are exposed to new information, travelling, hold a positive view on science and realize the value of education, the society is generally considered keen on innovation and technology.

On the contrary, some deep rooted negative cultural elements are obstacles to economic development. Negative patronage system and copy cat imitation/plagarism are unfortunately prevelant in Thai society, in both public and private sectors. These elements   deviate people  from focusing on efficiency and improvement of proccesses  and  products  and instead, create a general disregard for innovation and technology


It is imperative that Thailand place more importance on developing a culture focused on fostering creative thinking bringing about change through technological driven innovation. It is in accordance to the author’s Theory of Human Behavior stating that “our thinking determines our knowing, our knowing determines our being, our being determines our living, and our living expressing out as our manifesting.” Beliefs and thoughts producing quality human resource are imperative to be promoted for Thailand  to have sufficient and quality human resource, essential to drive the development of the country in a positive direction.


Source :amthaipaper
ISSUE 0110 (February-March 17)

Kriengsak Chareonwongsak
Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Center of Business and Government.

Source :,,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *