Academic journal article Journal of Global South Studies

Otop Leaders in Chiang Mai Province of Thailand

Academic journal article Journal of Global South Studies

Otop Leaders in Chiang Mai Province of Thailand

Article excerpt

The objectives of this study are to analyze the managerial potential of "One Tumbon, One Product" (OTOP) leaders based on the sufficiency economy philosophy, to study the managerial potential of OTOP leaders, and to suggest guidelines to enhance the managerial potential of these leaders based on the sufficiency economy philosophy. Quantitative research was used to evaluate the managerial potential based on the sufficiency economy of OTOP leaders in Chiang Mai. The population consisted of leaders of 124 groups from 25 Chiang Mai districts who had registered with the Department of Community Development to join OTOP projects. The sample was selected from leaders of OTOP business groups divided in accordance with types of products. This study finds that most leaders, sponsored and assisted by many other organizations, were enthusiastic about using this opportunity to better themselves but were initially unaware of and unconcerned with the sufficiency economy in their work. Furthermore, the potential of most OTOP leaders in production, human resources, and financial, organizational, and marketing management, based on the sufficiency economy philosophy, was greatly augmented by attending the development project. On completion, the study recommended that OTOP leaders should apply the sufficiency economy in their management approach and should also conduct their work based on the middle path.

INTRODUCTION

"One Tumbon, One Product" (OTOP) has been an important policy in the overall economic planning in Thailand ("Tumbon" is the Thai word for subdistrict). This approach was initiated in Japan in 1999, (1) but the Thai government adopted the idea following then Prime Minister Thaksin's official visit to Japan during that year. (2) The main concept of OTOP emphasizes creating income by directing each Tumbon to make one particular product from its local resources. Thailand has been trying to tackle the problem of poverty by concentrating on the rural rather than the suburban districts. In 2000, the rural population in the country accounted for 93 percent of the total number of people, 68 percent of whom were classified as "poor." (3) As a result, the Royal Thai Government tried to help poor people living in rural agricultural regions with a set of programs and policies at the grassroots level, among them the OTOP policy, which emphasizes self-reliance and encourages each Tumbon to make marketable products by drawing from its local talents and using its own identity as well as local materials, thus helping poor people in the community to have a sufficient income, alleviating the problems associated with poor people having to migrate to cities for work while reducing the overall level of rural poverty.

OTOP is Thailand's community-based, private-sector and market-oriented policy that is consistent with the philosophy of economic self-sufficiency espoused by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej as early as 1974. At the heart of this philosophy is human development toward the general well-being of the people with an emphasis on self-reliance, self-protection, reason, knowledge, and morality. (4) Inherent in the philosophy are three basic principles that Thailand should pursue: (a) independence in the economic sector whenever its resource base makes it reasonable to do so, (b) development of policies that are family-centered and community-based, and (c) projects aimed at the grass-roots level and involving local people as leaders and participants. (5) Ultimately, it is hoped that such policy will lead to a more resilient, balanced, and sustainable development. The OTOP enterprises are designed in accordance with such principles and policy orientation.

Chiang Mai, a province in northern Thailand, has played a leading role in implementing the OTOP policy. Its local entrepreneurs have participated in the OTOP projects; by 2014, 1,181 of them had registered. (6) OTOP community businesses in Chiang Mai have raised the income of local participants on an annual basis. …

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