Amnuayvit Thitibordin is currently engaged with his dissertation concerning the teak economy in Northern Thailand during 1880s-1930s. From the 1880s on, foreign companies pioneered in Northern Thailand which once was the tributary state of Bangkok. These companies set up branches, brought company men, and supplied money for their business. They supplied teak from hinterland Southeast Asia to the global market, as far as South Africa. Actually and commonly, the successful stories of Chinese businessmen in Southeast Asia were repeated. As well as the case of Chinese businessmen in Thailand, they overcame western firms in rice and tin business prior to the eve of the Second World War; however, teak business is an exception. Therefore, the research asks the business-related question why Chinese merchants could not compete with the western companies in teak business.
To answer the above question, the research aims to understand the specifically dynamic of teak business under the changing politico-economic conditions in Thailand during 1880s-1930s. From studying, I found that the knowledge of teak business structure and management in Thailand has not been studied before. Although the previous researches had explained changes in teak business based on a change of the politico-economic conditions in Thailand, they emphasized only on the role of the Thai state in teak business and how the state successfully nationalised teak in northern Thailand. The prior researches have an idea that the success of British firms in Thailand is a result of the influence of the British government.
Amnuayvit Thitibordin’s research concentrates on teak business structure and management. The success of the western companies in teak business in a rapid changing of politico-economic conditions of Thailand, in the mid of globalization during the 19th and 20th century, was not from the Thai state control and not directly from the British government influence. Those companies were successful because they have dynamically re-designed their business structure and improved the management system.
The nature of teak trade is different from other products in Thailand. It needs a large sum of investment, sophisticated logistic system, and complex modern management skill. In this circumstance, there is a limit of knowledge on the business history and the development of a business organization in Thailand. The superiority of western firms in management over Chinese business and local business groups is the key factor to win the competition in teak business.
The methodology of the research is based on the documentary research. Mr. Thitibordin has been collecting primary documents from many libraries in Asia and Europe. According to the aim of the research, he uses the government’s documents and the documents produced by the business organizations in order that the study is not solely focusing on the state, but the business itself as well.