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Governance Reform in Thailand: Questionable Assumptions, Uncertain Outcomes


  • Bidhya Bowornwathana


This article examines the nature of governance reform in Thailand. The argument is that Thai citizens are not especially benefiting from the public reform initiatives of Thai governments because government reformers made four questionable assumptions about reform which have in turn produced uncertain outcomes and provided the opportunity for government reformers to avoid responsibility for their reform choices. First, the reformers support the belief that a global reform paradigm with ready-made reform packages exists which can be easily transplanted in the Thai public sector. Second, the reformers prefer to define success largely as reform output rather than reform outcomes or long-term reform consequences. Third, Thai government reformers have overemphasized the efficiency aspects of the new public management at the expense of other governance goals. Fourth, governance reform in Thailand has been portrayed as a managerial problem instead of a political one. The author supports his arguments by drawing on theoretical debates in the international literature on administrative reform, and relating these debates to the Thai case. Governance reform in Thailand is still at an early stage, but the role of unintended consequences is important to administrative reform. Furthermore, the Thai case may reflect governance reform in other countries as well.

Suggested Citation

  • Bidhya Bowornwathana, 2013. "Governance Reform in Thailand: Questionable Assumptions, Uncertain Outcomes," Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 149-165, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rapaxx:v:35:y:2013:i:2:p:149-165
    DOI: 10.1080/23276665.2013.10800987

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