Year published :January 2016

Pages :256 pp.

Size :14x21cm.

ISBN: 9786162151163

Way Thais Lead, The: Face as Social Capital

by Larry S. Persons

This fascinating study explores how face functions as social capital for leaders in Thai society. It examines the anatomy of Thai face, ways to gain and lose face, patron-client dynamics, and the sources and paradigms of power. Ethnographic research gives voice to Thai leaders as they describe face behaviors and the flow of power in their society. The author compellingly reveals an indigenous but little-used pathway to virtuous leadership that empowers both leaders and followers, to the benefit of all.

Written with academic rigor in a popular style, this book presents insights that are crucial to understanding and building strategic relationships in Thai society.

About the author

Larry S. Persons was born and raised in Thailand and lived in Southeast Asia for more than thirty years. He earned a PhD from Fuller School of Intercultural Studies and cofounded a non-profit organization that develops Thai leaders. He teaches anthropology and urban cultures.


  • An insider’s account of Thai leadership based on sound ethnographic research
  • Examines the significance of face in Thai society
  • Reveals the pathways to power in the Thai context
  • Explores the relationship of Thai leaders and their followers
  • Identifies the qualities of virtuous leadership

What others are saying

“An exceptional exegesis of the anatomy of Thai face and the paradigms of power available to Thai leaders. Working from a rich body of ethnographic interview data, and a clear grasp of Thai concepts and metaphors of facework and leadership, Persons displays the complex facets and remarkable dynamics of local, regional, and national leadership in Thailand.”—Sherwood G. Lingenfelter, Senior Professor of Anthropology and Provost Emeritus, Fuller Theological Seminary

“Dr. Persons deliberately engages serious readers as he looks at the interplay of face and leadership in our society. He has masterfully nailed the topic.”—Pongrapee Buranasompob, bestselling author of Dr. Tong the Filter and former secretary to the chief ombudsman of Thailand

“If you want to learn in-depth about leadership, power, and communication in Thai culture, read this invaluable source of wisdom. Based on original research and written in crisp prose, it is a well-crafted gem—a luminous dissection of Thai face that is accessible, relevant, and deeply insightful, a must read.”—Stella Ting- Toomey, Professor of Intercultural Communication, California State University at Fullerton

"Persons eloquently demonstrates the power of extensive ethnographic research in his exploration of the complex and significant concept of face in Thai culture. In doing so he casts doubt on the widely accepted view that foreigners cannot know 'Thai-ness.'  All readers seeking to comprehend Thai culture, whether anthropologists or anyone intent on blending into Thai society, will find much of value in this important book." — William E. Wormsley, Teaching Associate Professor in Anthropology, North Carolina State University


Thai l Society l Face l Social capital l Leadership l Power l Honor l Virtue

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