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The sufficiency economy and people-centered development: The case of the Huay Sai Royal Development Project in Thailand

Nisada Wedchayanon (Graduate School of Public Administration, National Institute of Development Administration, Bangkok, Thailand)
Sunisa Chorkaew (Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 28 October 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper id to examine the successful community development by enabling people to help themselves so that they could increase their career opportunities and recover the fertile natural environment previously lost through overstraining the local ecosystem. Sustainability is of central importance for many countries in the world. Especially developing countries need to strive for sustainability and continuity in their economic, social and political systems. This paper aimed at identifying sustainable human resource development in relation to the Huay Sai Royal Development Project initiated by His Majesty the King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand as a case study.

Design/methodology/approach

This study was a case study. Data were collected from documents, interviews and project visits. Then, the analysis was made by document analysis and observation during the study visit, and the information from the interviewees was recorded and transcribed in the Thai language. Some information from the interviews was then added to the analysis to confirm the case that the project had generated sustainable development and encouraged a better life for the local people.

Findings

It was found that the nature of people development for sustainability in the project was based on two central themes: people-centered development and whole system-focused development. People-centered development aims to make people succeed in their life. The latter theme aims at helping people become social beings that are willing to place societal concerns before personal interests. This reflected the eastern approach of people development, which puts people and their mindset at the center of development. Other findings pertaining to the methods of people development showed that action learning was a central method of development.

Research limitations/implications

The Sufficiency Economy and people-centered development served as an alternative development path, pursuing balanced growth based on development from within and on the accumulation of knowledge. The main thrust emphasized development from within, self-protection, conservation, caution and moderation, which called for the sustainable use of resources and concern for the social and environmental impact of economic decisions. This contributed to the action learning approach that the success of the project was not only economic returns but also the learning process to which the people engaging in dialogue could share their problems and develop solutions for themselves and for each other.

Practical implications

There were three key success factors that can be seen in the case. First, the development approach was aligned with the lifestyle and local wisdom of the people. Second, this project promoted step-by-step development, beginning with building a good basis for the people at the individual level. Lastly, the initiation of the project stemmed from an in-depth study of the problems in the area and action research, with a closely coupled monitoring system by which feedback was always fed into the study center.

Social implications

It could be noted that the Sufficiency Economy and people-centered development served as an alternative development path, pursuing balanced growth based on development from within and on the accumulation of knowledge. The main thrust emphasized development from within, self-protection, conservation, caution and moderation, which called for the sustainable use of resources and concern for the social and environmental impact of economic decisions.

Originality/value

The Sufficiency Economy strengthened sustainability as a goal and means of development; the ultimate goal of the development was to develop people to help themselves to become self-reliant. The means of this development were participatory development through a wide variety of methods and the use of local knowledge as a basis for cultivation. Sharing knowledge made people feel more empowered and encouraged them to change their basic attitudes and behaviors. Once people changed their mindset, they became able to enhance their potential. They also had the power to make choices in their life.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The earlier version of this paper was presented at the UFHRD Conference 2013 on 5-7 June 2013, Brighton, the United Kingdom.

Citation

Wedchayanon, N. and Chorkaew, S. (2014), "The sufficiency economy and people-centered development: The case of the Huay Sai Royal Development Project in Thailand", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 38 No. 9, pp. 822-844. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJTD-10-2013-0118

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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