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The results of the first survey conducted by Oxford Business Group (OBG) on the practical implications of Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) – which places sustainability at the core of its thinking, advancing a different approach from that of short-term, shareholder value-centred ideas of economic development – reveal a great deal of interest from both local and international companies in applying the philosophy’s principles to their day to day business.
Essentially, the corporate sector in Thailand view the SEP as a way to manage risk and social relationships in a long-term strategic fashion, as opposed to the quarterly approach that has become the norm amongst companies listed on the stock exchange.
While each of the three key tenets of the SEP – prudence, moderation and reasonableness – are pertinent to modern business, 33% of survey respondents concluded that prudence in instilling risk management and preparedness against shocks are the most vital components of the SEP.
Indeed, sustainability has become a major draw in an environment of high debt levels, volatile currencies, and up and down equity markets, with the SEP providing a business blueprint for a number of Thai and foreign companies.
Respondents indicated a universal acknowledgement that the adoption of the SEP’s principles in modern business can have significant long-term benefits to sustained business growth, with 2/3 of respondents indicating they strongly agree with the statement and the remaining 1/3 indicating they agree with the statement.
Despite its benefits, 40% of respondents indicated that the main challenge to applying the SEP’s principles in business activities was sustaining or expanding market share.
Some CEOs consider SEP an attractive strategy yet one that gives competitors an advantage, especially if they use debt to increase their market share. The applicability of the SEP is consistent across a wide variety of economic sectors, with 20% of respondents indicating that the industrial and energy sectors are the most applicable to the philosophy, followed by 13% of respondents selecting agribusiness, and 7% of respondents selecting health care and construction.
Some 47% of respondents indicated that the business departments that would benefit most from the increased application of the SEP would be human resources and research and development (R&D), highlighting the importance of these aspects to Thailand’s achieving sustainable growth and investment.
Overall, interest in the SEP approach is rising as Asia adopts its own approach to debt, capital markets, as well as regional trade and investment opportunities.