Boston Screening of Thailand Documentary Slated for April 23 on MIT Campus

'Emerging Thailand' features household entrepreneurs and their stories
March 22, 2013

(March 22, 2013) The Boston premiere of Emerging Thailand: The Spirit of Small Enterprise—a documentary detailing the 15 years Prof. Robert M. Townsend has spent tracking the village economies of Thailand—is scheduled for Tuesday, April 23 at 6 p.m. on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

Since 1997, Townsend has led teams of economists from around the world along with Thai researchers, traversing the country to conduct detailed assessments of Thailand’s villages, towns, and urban neighborhoods—and the economies within. Along the way, they have made extraordinary observations about the nature of emerging markets, what makes entrepreneurs successful, how their communities support them, and the large role they play in national growth and the creation of wealth.

This compelling documentary (34 minutes) reveals the emerging spirit and dynamism of the Thai people and shares discoveries that will change audiences’ perspectives on developing countries worldwide. Emerging Thailand takes viewers into the world of Thailand's small businesses and shows how the country's enterprises have diversified, grown and survived amid a rapidly changing marketplace and even led the marketplace itself. The film provides an intimate portrait of Thailand and its people, showcasing the country's diverse landscape, from rice paddies and farms to floating markets and chaotic urban centers. Viewers meet rubber farmers as they collect latex, watch silk growers cultivate their threads and see shrimp farmers netting their crops—all against a backdrop of breathtaking beauty.

The premiere is sponsored by the group Thai Students at MIT who will host a short reception at 5:30 p.m. prior to the screening in building E25 (Whitaker College), Room 111, 45 Carleton St., Cambridge. The public is invited to the reception. The screening will begin at 6 p.m., April 23, in the same room. Immediately following the film, Townsend will answer questions. He will  also sign copies of his new book, Chronicles from the Field (MIT Press, 2013), which tells the story of the challenges and rewards that come from tracking a country's economic development. The Townsend Thai surveys are one of the most extensive datasets in the developing world.


Emerging Thailand: The Spirit of Small Enterprise was made possible by The Enterprise Initiative, a research program that examines the role of enterprise in creating wealth and alleviating poverty. The Enterprise Initiative is a project of the University of Chicago and is generously funded by the John Templeton Foundation. The film was produced by {group theory} media out of New York. Townsend is the Elizabeth & James Killian Professor of Economics at MIT.


Thai Students at MIT serves to promote international understanding of the Thai heritage and friendship with the Thai people through intellectual, cultural, and social activities among members and with the community. The group promotes interaction among Thai students at MIT and is a resource for disseminating Thai news to members and the community. It also helps acclimate new Thai students at MIT.