An examination of technological capability development In the Thailand automotive industry: the role of Thai government policy from 1960-2009
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
Thailand’s automotive industry has grown steadily since the 1960s making Thailand one of the world’s largest vehicle producers. Indeed, when it comes to Pick-up trucks, Thailand is the main manufacturing base for the following firms: Mitsubishi, Ford, Isuzu, Toyota and Nissan. While this may seem impressive, what remains unclear is whether these improvements have been matched with similar levels of technological capability development within Thailand. This study examines the growth of the Thai automotive industry and the influence of government policy from 1960-2009 on this industry. For the past 49 years the Thai government has encouraged and helped to develop an automobile industry within its borders and it has deployed a range of industrial policies to enhance the technological capabilities of local auto part firms. It is against this background that this study examines the level and extent of technological capability development within the Thai automobile industry. To this end, the study initially identifies the key concepts, ‘organisation & organisational learning’, ‘international strategic alliance’, ‘technology transfer’, and ‘innovation strategies’, as well as their related factors, and uses them to create the study’s conceptual framework. The important role of government policies is later added as a key concept in the conceptual framework. Evidence is presented from a survey of over 300 Thai automotive firms and in-depth elite interviews through three phases of research. The key findings of this study are that while the production figures in Thailand’s automotive industry have grown, these improvements have not been equally matched by similar levels of technological capability development. The other key finding is that the ten factors related to the key concepts mentioned above have an effect on the development of technological capability in the Thai automotive industry. The study contributes to the existing literature by developing an innovative conceptual framework called the Model of Technological Capability Development for the Automotive Parts Industry in Thailand. In addition, the research provides suggestions on how the Thai automotive industry can develop a technological capability strategy based on data obtained from the executives of automotive firms. The key findings of this study provide policy implications for the automotive industry and government bodies. It was also found that this study can be generalised to other ASEAN countries.
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