Thai expatriate managers: issues facing Thai hotels operating abroad

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Assumption University Press
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28 pages
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ABAC Journal 37, 1 (January-June 2017), 43-70
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In order to succeed abroad, multinational corporations (MNCs) need, among other things, to carefully recruit their expatriate managers (those managers running their overseas subsidiaries). This has become a key issue for MNCs to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage in a global market. In Thailand, selecting competent and reliable expatriate managers is all the more critical as outward foreign direct investment by Thai companies is rapidly increasing, most notably in the hotel sector. Many Thai hotel chains are now investing abroad to diversify risk and expand their customer base, which also means that more and more expatriate managers are needed to run their overseas operations. This paper focuses on those expatriate managers and on the issues Thai hotels face finding and retaining competent “expats.” Data are primarily collected from 21 interviews with hotel managers and hotel owners that have subsidiaries overseas or have expatriates working for them. A survey of 30 students enrolled in a Hotel Management Course at one Bangkok-based university adds to the lore of data. Still, even though a mixed methodology is used as a result, this study remains quintessentially qualitative as most of the data is collected from interviews, personal observations and documents. The findings show that the demand for expatriate managers in the hotel sector is growing and that finding qualified managers and convincing them to accept positions abroad remains challenging. Several reasons account for this situation. Firstly, even though the demand for qualified Thai managers to be expatriates in the Hotel business is increasing but it is still very difficult to find the right one who would accept working abroad as they prefer not to change their habits since going abroad equates with a radical change of routine. Secondly, hotel owners are looking the people who have high social skills, high adaptability skills, and are very flexible since expatriate managers have to deal with many problems and find solutions to them in both daily life and their working life. Thirdly, most hotels provide incentives and additional benefits differently depend on the countries they are assigned to. As there are some countries that no one would prefer to go to, they need to attract managers by using the greater incentives. Fourthly, Thai people are often not willing to accept the assignments, especially managers, since most of them already have a family, unlike the younger generations that prefer a challenge in their life. And lastly, differences in terms of cultures is a factor that is most likely to affect their performance abroad since they are living in the place that is totally different from their own countries, the behavior and lifestyle of people are also different as well.
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