Attempting to map the amart

5 02 2011

A reader sent PPT a link for a new Working Paper by Pramuan Bunkanwanicha, Joseph P.H. Fan and Yupana Wiwattanakantang entitled “Family matters: Valuing marriage in family …firms.” The paper’s abstract states:

This paper presents the fi…rst empirical evidence showing that marriage of family members can establish business or political networks for their family …firms. This research is made possible by a rare dataset of marriages held by families owning business groups in Thailand. The families’’ stocks react positively to the weddings when the partner belongs to a family from a business or political background. Abnormal returns are higher for …firms in the real estate, construction and telecoms industries, which typically depend on extensive networks. Marriage may also lead to horizontal or vertical integration incorporating the fi…rms owned by the now closely connected families.

PPT was not surprised to read a paper by economists who place so much emphasis on the models and regressions that the story is a little lost. Still, they come up with this rather nifty diagram that seems to map part of the ruling class in Thailand, based on the Lamsam family of Kasikorn Bank:

The claim that this is the first study to show the significance of marriage is a little overdone unless the emphasis is on empirical/mathematical analysis. Way back in the mid-1950s, G. William Skinner did a substantial amount of work on the Chinese in Thailand, and came up with some interesting network diagrams:

Skinner’s Leadership and power in the Chinese community of Thailand (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1958) was a path-breaking study of how Chinese and Sino-Thai business people had power in their own communities and developed political alliances:

Skinner isn’t the only one to have looked at power in Thai society and produced these kinds of network diagrams. Kevin Hewison wrote of these things in the 1980s. This is his summary network diagram:

Hewison’s diagram is from “The Structure of Banking Capital in Thailand,” Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science, 16, 1 (1988), pp. 81-91.

It is a great shame that the mathematically-inclined authors of the working paper (above) didn’t consult the works of Skinner and Hewison and the work of Suehiro Akira, who has examined family firms in Thailand and much more. PPT considers that more attention to these earlier works might have provided a better historical account of how the ruling class organizes and maintains its power.

Related, PPT thought that this picture from the Bangkok Post was also a revealing illustration of the ruling class’s alliances that allow it to maintain its power, political and ideological:

The picture shows a celebration for the Post Today. The caption states: “Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, fourth from left, celebrates Post Today’s eighth anniversary and gives a keynote speech at the Post Today Investment Expo 2011at the Sofitel Centara Grand Bangkok yesterday. Also joining the event were Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, second from left; Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai, fifth from right; Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, fourth from right; the premier’s adviser Apirak Kosayodhin, second from right; Post Publishing Plc’s board chairman MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, third from left; Post CEO Suthikiati Chirathivat, fifth from left; Post president and COO Supakorn Vejjajiva, third from right; Post Today editor Nhakran Laohavilai, left, and Bangkok Post editor Pattnapong Chantranontwong, right.

In fact, Abhisit used this occasion to unofficially launch his election campaign.


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7 responses

8 11 2013
Zen journalist’s latest | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] that implies. If we go back to the leading studies of capitalist development in Thailand – Skinner, Suehiro, Hewison – the monarchy is central, certainly for the pre-1932 period. That emphasis has dropped out […]

8 11 2013
Zen journalist’s latest | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] all that implies. If we go back to the leading studies of capitalist development in Thailand – Skinner, Suehiro, Hewison – the monarchy is central, certainly for the pre-1932 period. That emphasis has dropped out of […]

28 03 2014
Networks | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] monarchy” that has gained considerable currency in academic writing on Thailand. PPT has pointed out previously that the notion of networks in Thailand’s politics and economics goes back to G. William […]

29 03 2014
Networks | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] of “network monarchy” that has gained considerable currency in academic writing on Thailand. PPT has pointed out previously that the notion of networks in Thailand’s politics and economics goes back to G. William […]

22 06 2014
I want more! | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] have been various mappings of the group known as the Sino-Thai business class and its […]

22 06 2014
I want more! | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] have been various mappings of the group known as the Sino-Thai business class and its […]

28 01 2021
Royals, capitalists, and inequality | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] for a moment think this is something recent. Back in 2011, PPT posted on “maps” of elements of the ruling class going back to the early 1950s. For us, what has changed is eerily reminiscent of the destruction of […]