Kathoeys of Thailand: A Diversity Case in International Business

By Marie-Therese Claes.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In Thailand, where transgender people, called kathoey, are a common sight at different levels of activities, a case of discrimination by a European company led to a closer study of transgender position in Thai society, especially in the work environment. This article examines the social and legal situation of kathoey in Thailand, as well as the attitudes towards them in society in general. It also attempts to understand the role of Buddhism in the formation of these attitudes. In the above case of discrimination Thai managers started raising questions about the extent to which they should adapt to headquarters’ discriminating culture. The issue of introducing discrimination is an example of the influence of western organizations’ transfer of business practices to countries that depend on their investments. The struggle for anti-discrimination laws and practices in Thailand may be undermined by the introduction of such practices. On the other hand, western organizations face the dilemma of choosing between their values that favour diversity and the impact of their decisions on their image, locally and internationally.

Keywords: Transgender, Kathoey, Business Practices, Thailand, International Business, Diversity Management

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp.183-198. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 690.203KB).

Dr. Marie-Therese Claes

Professor, International Business, ICHEC Brussels Management School, Brussels, Belgium

Professor at ICHEC Brussels Business School, and at the University of Louvain in Belgium. She was Dean of the Faculty of Business at Asian University in Thailand for 2 years. She is a guest professor in universities in Europe, in Asia and in the United States of America. Her fields of teaching and research include Intercultural Communication and Intercultural Management. She is past president of EWMD (European Women Management Development) and of SIETAR Europa (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research). She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fulbright and a Japan Foundation alumna.


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