IPMA International Project Management Association
22 March 2017 / 9:10

Projects and project management in Thailand

The Kingdom of Thailand,  formerly also known as Siam, is with nearly 70 million inhabitants one of the most populous countries in South-East Asia. It is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Thailand in its earliest days was under the rule of the Khmer Empire, which had strong Hindu roots, and the influence among Thais remains even today. Thailand retained a tradition of trade with its neighboring states, from China to India, Persia, and Arab lands. It´s the only Southeast Asian nation to never have been colonised. This has been ascribed to the long succession of able rulers in the past four centuries who exploited the rivalry and tension between French Indochina and the British Empire. As a result, the country remained a buffer state between parts of Southeast Asia that were colonised by the two colonial powers, Great Britain and France. In 1932, a bloodless revolution resulted in a transition of power, when King Prajadhipok was forced to grant the people of Siam their first constitution, thereby ending centuries of absolute monarchy. In 1939, the name of the kingdom, “Siam”, was changed to “Thailand”. After WW2, Thailand went through decades of political instability characterised by a number of coups d’état, as one military regime replaced another, but eventually progressed towards a stable, prosperous democracy in the 1980s.

Thailand is an emerging economy and is considered a newly industrialised country . With its nominal GDP of 410 billion US$ the country is the second-largest economy in South-East Asia. The industrial and service sectors are the main sectors, accounting for about 40% of the country´s GDP. The agricultural sector produces only 8% of GDP—lower than the trade and logistics and communication sectors, which account for 13% and 10% of GDP respectively. The construction and mining sector adds 4% to the country’s gross domestic product. Other service sectors (including the financial, education, and hotel and restaurant sectors) account for 25%. Telecommunications and trade in services are emerging as centers of industrial expansion and economic competitiveness. The nation is recognized by the World Bank as “one of the great development success stories” in social and development indicators and unemployment rate is low, reported to be below 1%, due to a large proportion of population working in subsistence agriculture or on other vulnerable employment.

Like in most countries of the region, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank are engaged in Thailand, e.g. for supporting the communities, strengthening financial institutions and building up solar power provision. End of last year, the government approved an infrastructure action plan worth 25.2 billion US$ for 2017, including 36 infrastructure projects, covering rail, roads, air transport and ports throughout Thailand. Solar power in Thailand is targeted to reach 6,000 MW by 2036 [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Thailand]. At the end of 2015, with a total capacity of 2,500-2,800 MW, Thailand has more solar power capacity than all the rest of Southeast Asia combined, and more projects are under way.

At present, there is no national project management association in Thailand, the profession is just supported by the PMI Thai Chapter  It volunteers with the Thai industry to bring about change in the way organizations treat Project Management. They aim to increase awareness and recognition in terms of Project Management as a discipline. In recent talks with the Thailand Professional Qualification Institute, which develops all schemes for education and training across all sectors, the idea of adopting the IPMA ICB in Thailand as national standard for managing projects was discussed, as it is practiced in other countries nowadays. This could be accompanied by creating a Thai project management association.


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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.