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Rural industrialisation and policy formulation : a case study of North-East Thailand

Suranart Khamanarong


Suranart Khamanarong


Mike Parnwell


[From the introduction]:
Governments throughout the developing world share the same wide objective of bringing development to their people (Cheema and Rondinelli, 1983, 10). However, just as there is no universally accepted definition of what 'development' should involve, so too is there no universal strategy for achieving development (Black, 1991, 15: Jenkins, 1992, 164). Some countries try to develop their economies by increasing their national aggregate productive capacity, which essentially seeks to bring about development through fostering economic growth. The expectation here is that a dynamic economy will over time create the necessary conditions for the improvement in livelihood and welfare of the population as a whole (Jenkins, 1992, 165).

Other countries give priority to poverty reduction and welfare improvement directly through prioritising a strategy of income distribution and the equitable provision of utilities and opportunity. This approach, which is often guided by prevailing ideology, is driven by the experience that economic growth alone has seldom been successful in bringing 'development' (seen here as an improvement in the quality of life) to the entirety, or even majority, of a country's population (Demaine, 1986, 94: Ekins, 1992, 8). Some countries - among them Thailand - have been remarkably successful in engendering economic dynamism, but its benefits have not been shared by all. Typically, rural areas and the rural peasantry, particularly in peripheral and isolated areas, have derived little if any benefit from national economic growth (Demaine, 1986, 94). This results, inter alia, in widening levels of income disparity and regional inequality. Growth tends to be concentrated in certain core, dynamic areas whilst poverty and welfare problems may persist elsewhere. According to most contemporary definitions, this hardly constitutes 'development'.

The governments of most developing countries have vested in themselves an important role in development planning and policy-making (Rondinelli, 1990, 31). Some have been more successful than others, especially in cases where poverty alleviation and the reduction of social and spatial inequalities represents the most pressing development need [ibid., 34). In countries like Thailand, where the majority of the population still resides in rural areas, the promotion of rural development has to be the overriding priority. Unfortunately, in spite of state intervention in economic planning, and policy pronouncements which identify redistribution as an important objective, the development gap between rural and urban people, and between core and peripheral areas, continues to widen. One explanation for this apparent paradox is the highly centralised nature of development administration (usually emanating from the capital city), and the top-down nature of the planning process (Simon, 1990, 8). This typically leads to a disarticulation between the peasants' needs and the planners' perception of these needs. In the meantime, market forces almost inevitably determine that economic dynamism, and the associated benefits, will tend to concentrate in the areas, sectors of the economy, and among the social groups who have the initial advantage (Rondinelli, 1990, 54). In most cases this translates into urban-based industrial dynamism bringing benefits to a relatively small, privileged section of the national population (Ekins, 1992, 9). The hoped-for diffusion, or trickling-down, of benefits to the rural periphery has been very slow to materialise.

Set against this back-drop, this study aims to explore alternative means of promoting development in peripheral rural areas. In particular, it aims to explore the potential for fostering development at the 'grassroots' level, and engendering 'development from below' (Stohr and Taylor, 1981). The enquiry is set within the context of development in Thailand, and in particular the Northeastern region which has enjoyed few of the benefits of the country's recent economic boom.


Suranart Khamanarong. (1996). Rural industrialisation and policy formulation : a case study of North-East Thailand. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 22, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Southeast Asian studies
Public URL
Additional Information Department of South East Asian Studies, The University of Hull
Award Date Mar 1, 1996


Thesis (11.1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1996 Suranart Khamanarong. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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