Sasin School of Management, based at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, will ensure that its students understand not just business principles and practices, but also the importance of culture. In Thailand, that culture is largely inseparable from the country’s predominant religion, Buddhism. Rather than ignoring Buddhism or clumsily co-opting it, which has led to criticism in the past, students at Sasin School of Management will be taught to work creatively with this growing world religion.
Professor Ian Fenwick, director of Sasin School of Management, stated: “The future of business is totally uncertain. We’re going to see perpetual disruption, and the answers aren’t at the back of a book. People must be able to understand—and operate within—different cultures, because culture is important to business everywhere.” (Poets & Quants)
Multinational investment bank JP Morgan has forecast Southeast Asia’s population to grow by about 140 million by 2030. Furthermore, the bank expects the growing online economy to gross US$360 billion in merchandise value by 2025 and nearly US$1 trillion by 2030. Calling Southeast Asia “the next hub for multinational companies,” JP Morgan noted the region’s proximity to China and its growing global trading clout:
In 2022, the region’s countries ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) a free-trade agreement with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. RCEP created the world’s largest free-trade area covering 30% of the world’s population.(J.P. Morgan)
Thailand in particular is seen to hold great potential. “Thailand is a tremendously entrepreneurial country,” said Prof. Fenwick. “It’s creative, dynamic, digital, and a great place to start a business.” (Poets & Quants)
Under Prof. Fenwick’s leadership, Sasin will teach students to immerse themselves in local cultures. The dynamic nature of Southeast Asia’s growing economies will require future business leaders to understand local people, beliefs, social structures, mores, and more.
“The future of business is totally uncertain,” said Prof. Fenwick. “We’re going to see perpetual disruption, and the answers aren’t at the back of a book. People must be able to understand—and operate within—different cultures, because culture is important to business everywhere.” (Poets & Quants)
Sasin will thus focus on teaching students the skills needed to create a better world by integrating Buddhism, international travel, and sustainability teachings into its curriculum. All of these are said to have the goal of creating nimble and flexible students who are ready to work in evolving and uncertain environments.
“We’re not trying to teach facts. We’re not even trying to teach frameworks,” said Prof. Fenwick. “We’re trying to teach people to be mindful, responsible, and consider carefully what is on the table, and the impact it will have.” (Poets & Quants)
Sasin School of Management is the first internationally accredited business school in Thailand. It is one of two business schools at Chulalongkorn University, a public research university in Bangkok that was founded in 1899, during the reign King Chulalongkorn. Sasin, however, is a private school within the public university, established in 1982 through a collaboration between Chulalongkorn University, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Theravada Buddhism is the most prominent religion in Thailand, with 94.5 per cent of the nation’s population of 69 million identifying as Buddhists, according to the 2015 government census. The Southeast Asian kingdom has some 40,000 Buddhist temples and almost 300,000 monks. Islam accounted for 5.4 per cent of the population, while Christianity accounted for 1.1 per cent.
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