Sustainable leadership in a Thai healthcare services provider

Sooksan Kantabutra (Leadership Research Group, College of Management, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Publication date: 11 January 2011



Rhineland leadership practices contrast sharply with the prevailing Anglo/US business model of short‐term maximization of profitability, and are said to lead to greater corporate sustainability, at least in highly developed economies. However, the applicability of Rhineland leadership to less developed economies has not yet been demonstrated. This paper sets out to compare the business practices of a social enterprise that delivers healthcare services in Thailand and Avery's 19 sustainable leadership practices derived from Rhineland enterprises.


Adopting a case study approach, multi‐data collection methods included non‐participant observations made during visits to the enterprise, and reference to internal and published documentation and information. Semi‐structured interview sessions were held with many stakeholders, including top management, staff, patients and a former consultant.


In the Thai healthcare organization studied, evidence was found for compliance with 15 of Avery's 19 sustainable leadership elements, but to varying degrees. The elements were grouped into six core sets of practices: adopting a long‐term perspective, staff development, organizational culture, innovation, social responsibility, and ethical behavior. One element was found to be not applicable, and no evidence was found for conformity with Rhineland principles on the remaining three sustainable practices. The paper concludes that Avery's 19 Rhineland practices provide a useful framework for evaluating the corporate sustainability of this Thai enterprise.

Practical implications

Healthcare enterprises in Thailand and possibly in other Asian countries that wish to sustain their organizational success could adopt Avery's 19 Sustainable Leadership Grid elements to examine their leadership practices, and adjust them to become more sustainable.


The relevance of Rhineland sustainable leadership principles to enterprises in less developed economies remains to be investigated. This study attempts to uncover this unknown.



Kantabutra, S. (2011), "Sustainable leadership in a Thai healthcare services provider", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 67-80.

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