Creative Education
2011. Vol.2, No.4, 327-332
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/ce.2011.24046
Creative Education, Globalization and Social Imaginary
Ponsan Rojanapanich1, Nattavud Pimpa2
1Rajamangala University of Technology, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand;
2School of Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
Received September 12th, 2011; revised October 12th, 2011; accepted October 24th, 2011.
The concept of creativity in education is linked with a range of social factors. By examining the relationship
among social, educational factors and creativity among students in Thailand, this study proposes that educators
and policy makers must understand various global factors that affect contemporary education. They include
changes in contemporary politics, culture and communication in the global education contexts. The study con-
firms that modern cultural factors and concept of gender are marked as key predictors of the development of
creativity among young Thai students. It is reported in this study that various facets of globalization also pro-
mote creativity and imagination among young Thais. Young Thai students in this study are, in fact, willing to
participate in many creative educational and social activities.
Keywords: Creativity, Social Imaginary, Education Policy, Globalization, Thai Studies, Higher Education
Creativity in education is one of the critical themes among
researchers from various disciplines. Although globalization
and a faster rate of innovation are two of the most frequently
mentioned trends in creative education (Frese, 2000; Rank et al.,
2004), little attention has been devoted to research in social and
policy issues related to creative thinking in education and soci-
ety. Previous studies in education are replete with descriptions
of creativity and creative thinking. They, however, are not suc-
cessful in identifying the process of creative thinking in educa-
tional management and policy area (Rank et al., 2004). From
the overall perspectives of research in creativity and creative
education, Dacey (1999: p. 321) suggested that modern creativ-
ity research has developed across a range of disciplines as
“psychological and contextual influences received more recog-
nition”. Furthermore, creativity should not be seen purely in
terms of novel ideas but that it is intrinsically bound with the
teaching of academic disciplines (Rowlands, 2011).
Some studies on creative education and training (i.e. West &
Farr, 1990; Rank et al., 2004; Xu & Rickards, 2007) pointed
that, by encouraging learners to think analytically about their
own learning processes, combining global and local factors in
the learning processes, and providing general and specific
strategies for a wide variety of learning environments, learners
may be able to take greater control of their own thinking and
learning in various aspects. It is, therefore, believed that stu-
dents who are taught in this way have been more readily able to
attribute their successes and failures to factors which they can
themselves control. Thus, they are increasingly autonomous as
creative learners (Kratzer et al., 2006). Carney-Strahler (2011)
suggested that creativity and creative learning can be nurtured
and encouraged in various environments. For this reason, global
and local factors affect the level of creativity in all societies.
Creativity in education can be influenced by various social
and political factors that control the management and admini-
stration of social and governmental institutions. The conceptual
development of creativity and social imaginary stems from a
philosophy of human society and it emerges from feelings and
thinking about life experiences and social perspectives in order
to create new ways of understanding the manifestation and
development of cultural life (Dacey, 1999).
As suggested by Rowlands (2011) that a truly creative idea,
not one that is merely novel but innovative with respect to a
background of ideas, does not come out of the void; it must rely
on the insights of predecessors. From the educational philoso-
phy, Jaworski (1994) confirms that the accumulation of global
and local knowledge contribute to how students conceptualize
their views to the world. It is, therefore, critical to understand
global and local factors affecting creativity in education. The
interactions between globalization, traditional cultures and con-
temporary social policy can be a site where creative education
is generated for individuals and the collective.
Social Imaginary and Creativity in Modern
Social imaginaries have long been an important focus of so-
cial research since the 1930s, though arguably earlier, growing
out of theorizing by the Frankfurt School and its antecedents
(Kellner, 1992). The concept is about how the imagination can
be used in the everyday lives of people in order to effect social
change (Rojanapanich, 2010). Some argues that this concept is
also about bringing creative and possibilities into the sphere of
everyday life in the globalized world. Appadurai (1999) also
employed the concept in a discussion of globalization, moder-
nity and quotidian creativity. In his discussion, Appadurai (1999)
claimed that globalization is present in newer positions for the
imagination in social life. These positions are described as the
social imaginary, a form of daily activity directed at creating
possibilities for societal change linked to globalization. From
these positions, a social imaginary is about how imagination
can be used in the everyday lives of people in a society to do
things that will change human society.
In support of those arguments, Rizvi (2006: p. 193) observed
that “it involves processes through which people engage with
ordinary life, consider options and make decisions, now in new
forms of collaborations that are no longer confined to local
communities but span across national boundaries”.
Globalization embraces many of the major issues in con-
temporary societies. Its meaning is deeply and widely contested
and it has highly uneven outcomes (Wade, 2004). Globalization
of creativity is among new important ways to understand ch-
ange in modern human society (Rojanapanich, 2010). Some
social scientists attempt to identify the effects of globalization,
imaginary and creativity by focusing on one’s imagination and
the way they are educated (Appadurai, 1999). According to
Appadurai “globalization is not simply the name for a new
epoch in the history of capital or in the biography of the nation
state”. He cited that it (globalization) involves how people con-
nect with day to day life and function effectively together in
communities and in groups across social and national bounda-
ries. It, therefore, can be presumed that various facets of glob-
alization may affect creativity in different societies.
Previous studies in this area (i.e. Keong & Soon, 1996) con-
firms that demographic factors such as age, sex, marital status
and birth order may affect ability to apply creative thinking at
the workplace and/or other social organizations. Yamada (1991)
also confirm that resources, facilities, personal assistance and
social regulations seem to affect the level of team and individ-
ual creativity within the organization. A study of Egyptian bus-
iness organizations by Mostafa (2005) also confirms that po-
litical, social and cultural structure (i.e. being group-oriented
society and high commitment to the top management) affect the
way in which an individual think creatively.
Appadurai (1999) further his discussion by looking at the re-
lationship between the knowledge of globalization and the glo-
balization of knowledge. That is, globalization brings in a new
role for the imagination in social life, rather than simply nam-
ing a distinctive period in the history of capital in the biogra-
phies of nation states. To him, social imaginary can play a sig-
nificant role in fostering social development in a country. He
confirmed that “social reform, culture shaped by globalization,
improvements in the education system, and other initiatives
directed at improving the quality of human life all require crea-
tive innovation in social visions”.
In this aspect, social imaginary and creativity are well-linked
as a method to understand how globalization shapes culture to
improve society and everyday life. However, as Dickens (2004)
recently noted, globalization is problematic and this applies to
its role in the social imaginary. Although globalization is linked
to and embraces many of the major issues in creative education,
its meaning is deeply and widely contested and it has highly
uneven outcomes (Giddens, 2003). This also needs to be taken
into account in theorizing the role it plays in the (re)construc-
tion of the social imagination (Held & McGrew, 2003).
Creativity and Thai Education
Creativity is one of the key concepts affecting education re-
form in Thailand (Pimpa & Rojanapanich, 2009; Rojanapanich,
2010). Traditionally, Thailand has been a subsistence economy
where people have produced what was necessary for their own
living (Phongvivat, 2002). Thai identity stems from the Bud-
dhist worldview where “the aim of Buddhism is not to shape
life in the world, but to teach liberation, release from the world.
The Buddhist attempts to attain inner peace (Nibbana) th-
rough self-development is understood as an absolutely per-
sonal performance of the single individual” (Premasiri, 1996:
p. 14).
Thai culture evolves largely around Buddhism and respect
for seniority, whether in terms of age, status or wealth. Not-
withstanding the respect given to seniority, Buddhist monks
receive absolute deference and it is common to see healthy
young monks sitting on buses while elderly passengers stand
(Yukongdi, 2001). Seniority has different forms: younger peo-
ple respect elders, the poor look up to the rich, and common
citizens defer to politicians and high ranking military personnel
(Mulder, 1996). Hofstede (1991) also confirms that Thai soci-
ety is collectivistic and high in power distance. However, the
understanding about the relationship between creativity and co-
llectivism in Thailand remains unclear (Rojanapanich, 2010).
In an earlier work, Mulder (1996) observed that Thai peo-
ple’s connection to traditional ways of thinking limits the pos-
sibility for individual imagination. Supported by these ideas,
Thanasankit (2002) stated that young Thai people believe in
expert decision—that is, they have a strong respect for author-
ity—rather than public decision which emanates from Western
culture where knowledge is validated through a social process.
Thai children, accordingly, are brought up to believe in the
virtue of obeying parents, teachers and other adults. Thus it
could be argued that a characteristic of Thai culture is that
young people conform to older people’s patterns regardless of
whether they are right or wrong; it might be questioned if Thai
people are to create creativity or to adapt to the modern world?
Global changes in culture, economy, politics and communi-
cation technology tend to affect various aspects of thinking and
behaviors among younger generation worldwide. The young
generation of Thailand has been affected by such changes.
Education reform in Thailand since 2005 has focused on pro-
moting creativity and modern thinking among students (MOE,
2006). We, therefore, need to understand the concept of crea-
tivity among young generation in the Thai higher education
system. Having established the relationship among globaliza-
tion, social imaginary and creativity, the key question for this
study is:
What are the relationships among social imaginary, global-
ization factors and creativity in the perceptions of young Thai
University students?
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the social imagi-
nary in Thai society through examining the relationships of
globalization and cultural dimensions on social creativity with a
focus on the opinions of young Thai University students. Uni-
versity students were selected as the major subject for this study,
due to the government policies on education reform. This group
has been in the process of the reform that focuses on the devel-
opment of creativity in higher education (MOE, 2006).
Since the focus of this study, the social imaginary concept, is
complicated, the research sample groups include students who
were familiar with sociological theories. In this project, the
researchers was concerned with attitudes held by Thai under-
graduate students from the Faculty of Sociology and Anthro-
pology at Thammasart University (a prominent social sciences
public university), and social science major students in the Fac-
ulty of Liberal Arts at Sripatum University, a liberal arts private
university. Questionnaire surveys were conducted with students
from both institutions.
In this study, two groups of variable are formed base on lit-
erature in social imaginary and creativity. Social imaginary
with creativity is the dependent variable, four globalization fa-
ctors (economic, culture, information and political globaliza-
tion) and Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (power distance, un-
certainty avoidance, masculinity, individualism and long term
orientation) are key independent variables.
A target sample of 600 students from both universities was
calculated using a sampling size from Krejcie and Morgan’s
(1970) sampling technique. A total of 223 students were ach-
ieved in this study. In the questionnaires, topics covered the
students’ attitudes and perceptions towards studying in social
science programs, the goals of their careers, the impact of glob-
alization and cultural dimensions in their lives, and also the
possibility of the development social imaginary and creative
concepts that could be applied in Thai society. The question-
naire was first developed in English and then translated into
Thai with assistance from the Chalermprakiet Center of Trans-
lation and Interpretation in the Faculty of Arts at Chulalong-
korn University.
Globali zation, Cul ture and Social Imaginary in the
Thai Society
The results in Table 1 indicate that the participants agree that
cultural globalization (M = 4.85, SD = .807) is the strongest
influence in Thai society compared to the other forms of glob-
alization. This is followed by economic globalization (M = 4.70,
SD = .886), communication globalization (M = 4.52, SD
= .699). The least powerful factor among the four globalization
factors was the political globalization (M = 4.01, SD = .762).
As mentioned, the research project has employed Hofstede’s
(1991) cultural dimensions: power distance, uncertainty avoid-
ance, masculinity, individualism, and long term orientation.
The questionnaire also includes questions about attitudes to
identify association among these dimensions. The results in
Table 2 show high score for long term orientation (M = 4.99,
SD = .75). The students are in strong agreement that these two
cultural dimensions are very significant factors in Thai society
as they relate to social creativity and the social imaginary.
These two dimensions also have the smallest spread, adding
to the strength of that view. Power distance (M = 3.56, SD
= .89), uncertainty avoidance (M = 4.04, SD = .84) and mas-
Table 1.
Globalization effects in Thai society.
Variables M SD
Economic Globalization 4.70 .88
Culture Globalization 4.85 .81
Communication Globalization 4.52 .70
Political Globalization 4.01 .76
Table 2.
Culture dimension in the Thai context.
Variables M SD
Power Distance 3.56 .89
Uncertainty Avoidance 4.04 .84
Masculinity 4.02 .82
Individualism 4.98 .79
Long-Term Orientation 4.99 .75
culinity (or gender orientation) (M = 4.02, SD = .82) present
lower results and show up as neutral in compassion.
Finally, the results on social imaginary and creativity among
Thai students show that Thai students support creativity at all
levels of society present in agreement. Items about families,
creativity and society supporting young people to be creative
reflect the strongest levels of agreement. The mean score for
the social imaginary and creativity scale is 4.71 (SD = .86),
which is considered high. An ANOVA test was performed to
analyze whether globalization and cultural dimensions were
significant predictors of social imaginary and creativity in Thai
society. Since the r value of .00 was less than .05, the research-
ers assume that globalization and cultural dimensions are sig-
nificant predictors of social imaginary in Thai society.
The Relationship among Globalization, Social
Imaginary, Creativity and Thai Culture
The relationship among globalization and cultural dimen-
sions on social imaginary (and creativity) was tested using mul-
tiple regression analysis. Preliminary analyses were conducted
to ensure no violation of the assumption of normality, linearity,
and multi-colinearity. The total variance explained by the model
as a whole was 56%, (F (9, 211) = 29.82, p < .01) as presented
in Table 3.
An ANOVA test was performed to analyze whether global-
ization and cultural dimensions were significant predictors of
social imaginary and creativity in Thai society. Since the r
value of .00 was less than .05, the researchers assume that glo-
balization and cultural dimensions are significant predictors of
social imaginary in Thai society.
In the final model, as presented in Table 4, seven independ-
ent variables were found to be statistically significant. Three
factors from globalization (culture, communication, and politi-
cal globalization) and four factors from cultural dimensions
(power, gender, group, and goal orientations) significantly con-
tributed to social imaginary and creativity among the young
Thai students in this study. The relationship can be explained
by the following regression model. This model identifies posi-
tive impact from cultural globalization, political globalization,
gender orientation, group orientation, and goal orientation on
social imaginary for Thai students in this study.
Based on the analyses, it was found that seven independent
variables (individualism, culture globalization, masculinity, po-
litical globalization, long term orientation, uncertainty avoid-
ance and economic globalization) were positively significant to
the social imaginary in Thailand. However, two of the variables
(communication globalization and power distance) were found
to be negatively significant to the social imaginary in Thailand.
The regression model indicates various globalization and cu-
ltural dimensions as positively contributing to the social im-
aginary and creativity. Individualism is the strongest predictor
that is positively significant to social imaginary and creativity
(p < .01, β = .264). The students in this study believed that the
concept of individualism is important to encourage social crea-
tivity. More importantly, it may predict personal contributors to
new ideas and also help them to respond to the social change
more than other dimensions.
Predicted social imaginary = 0.225 culture globalization;
0.212 communication globalization;
+0.201 political globalization;0.116 power distance;
+0.221 masculinity;
0.264 individualism; +0.171 long term orientation
Table 3.
Regression model.
Model df Sum of Squares Mean Square F p
Regression 9 91.88 10.21 29.82** .00
Residual 211 72.23 .34
Total 220 164.12
R = .75, R2 = .56, F = 29.82.
Table 4.
Regression model.
Variable Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t p
β Std. Error Β
EGS .103 .063 .106 1.640 .10
CGS .225 .065 .210 3.454** .00
CMGS .212 .066 .172 3.236** .00
PGS .201 .077 .177 2.595** .01
PDI .116 .058 .120 1.990 .06
UAI .114 .069 .111 1.638 .10
MAS .221 .065 .211 3.415** .00
IDV .264 .064 .243 4.160** .00
LTO .171 .072 .149 2.385** .01
Note: EGS = economic globalization; CGS = culture global-
ization; CMGS = communication globalization; PGS = political
globalization, IDV = individualism; PDI = power distance;
MAS = masculinity; UAI = uncertainty avoidance; LTO =
long-term orientation (or Confucian dynamism) (Sources: Hof-
stede, 2003)
The second and third significant predictors to social imagi-
nary were cultural globalization (p < .01, β = .225), and the
masculinity dimension (p < .01, β = .221). Culture and gender
play significant roles in minds of participants in this study in
the creation of the social imaginary. There was also a positive
relationship between political globalization and social imagi-
nary (p < .01, β = .201).
Long term orientation (p < .01, β = .171) was found to be
less influential, but still significant to the development process
of the social imaginary. The least significant factor contributing
to the social imaginary was uncertainty avoidance (p < .01, β
= .171). The researchers found that power distance (p < .01, β =
.212), was significant in contributing to development of the
social imaginary and creativity, but in a negative aspect. This
may be interpreted on meaning the Thai university students see
social hierarchies as a negative factor in developing creativity
in Thai society. That is, as the influence of hierarchies increase,
the chances of new ideas may decrease.
Economic globalization does not significantly contribute to
the concept of social imaginary and creativity. Furthermore,
uncertainty avoidance is insignificant in its contribution to the
social imaginary concept. Although most β values identify sta-
tistical significance, there are some limitations to interpretation
in this model. Firstly, the researcher only selected some global-
ization factors from the literature to test their relationship with
social imaginary. Thus, it should be noted that factors other
than globalization may affect the social imaginary. Secondly,
given positive relationship between all variables, some of the
regression is highly negative when controlled by the influence
of other variables. The interpretation contributions of some
variables (i.e. communication globalization and power distance)
are negative because their influence is indirect, expressed th-
ough their relationship with other variables.
Implications of the Study
The findings revealed some critical points and provide an
invaluable understanding concerning the importance of social
imaginary and creativity in Thai society. In particular, the re-
sults suggest that globalization has had a considerable impact
on creativity among Thai students. The findings indicate that in
regard to cultural dimensions, power distance is an obvious
factor on the perception of Thai students being the “young
ones” who need to respect the “more powerful” people in soci-
ety. They seem to accept this about less powerful members of
institutions, like themselves, and expect and accept that power
is distributed unequally. Clearly, those with power in society
can stimulate creativity in education among young Thais.
The students in this study may be too afraid to express their
doubts and disagreements with their teachers or parents. This
can be one of the factors that may negatively contribute to the
various levels of social creativity among the young Thai citi-
zens. Criticism may create conflict which does not go with the
idea of social harmony in Thai society.
With regards to the relationship among social imaginary,
globalization, and cultural dimensions, the results indicate
strong positive relationship among various globalization and
cultural dimension factors. The findings suggest that in terms of
the correlation among factors, globalization affects various
aspects of Thai society and all of them correlate to each other.
It is inevitable not to integrate the political, economic, commu-
nication, and cultural impacts in the interpretation of globaliza-
tion effects in contemporary Thailand.
In the analyses, three factors of individualism, cultural glob-
alization and masculinity were evident as predictors of the de-
velopment of the social imaginary and creativity in Thailand.
Power distance was negatively correlated to the development of
social imaginaries, whilst uncertainty avoidance and economic
globalization had no significant effect.
The result from the study was somewhat surprising because
initially, following the literature review, it is believed that eco-
nomic globalization to be demonstrably beneficial as the idea of
economic competition between the countries motivates the
growth of new ideas amongst people in society. In view of that,
society would be motivated to develop new sets of social
knowledge or creativity in response to the effects of globaliza-
tion. For instance, the “modernization argument holds that
economic development in Thailand [has] created a substantial,
well-educated urban middle class people that wanted account-
able democratic government” (Deveney, 2005), and it might be
expected that the changed social location of university students
may have been more strongly reflected in the results about
economic globalization as it linked to the development of new
social imaginaries and creativity.
This study also presents information technology globaliza-
tion as a significant negative predictor to the social imaginary
(p < .01, β = .212). Based on this result, globalization of in-
formation technology could have a significant impact on social
imaginary, but in negative ways, meaning that it was received
by people unexpectedly and that they may need to counteract it
in the development of social imaginaries. That is to say, infor-
mation technology is important, but not directly to the devel-
opment of the social imaginary.
This seemingly contradictory position is also reflected in
views of others. While Sinlarat (2005: p. 266) argued that “the
growth of globalization and the development of the internet has
made the transfer of knowledge seemingly limitless, countless,
and timeless, creative learning occurs instantly and every-
where”, in contrast to these comments Chareonwongsak (2002),
in discussing the impact of global technology in our lives, says
that “lifestyle and human social behavior are responding much
as they did to all other waves in human history-with great dif-
ficulty and, in unexpected ways”.
The results from this study may be interpreted as saying that
Thai students consider technological, social and communica-
tional factors contributes to creativity. In regards to points on
information technology and global media playing an essential
role in influencing Thai people’s way of thinking, this study
confirmed that Thai university students did not believe that
global technology would heavily impact on their lives and crea-
tivity. They considered technology as a natural element and a
part of the taken for granted (ordinary) life. Conversely, older
people may consider the concept of technological globalization
as more complicated. The gap between the perceptions of these
two groups becomes clearer as we continue to investigate glob-
A core argument of this paper is that the positive benefits of
globalization must be reflected in creative education, that is, in
curricula and in teaching and learning methods. Moreover, glo-
balization has been significant in encouraging the knowledge
and imagination for young people and such results have shown
that Thai students are in fact willing to participate in many
creative activities.
Finally, while there is a large proportion of research on crea-
tivity in education and organizations in the West, little is known
about the context of creativity in South East Asia. Future re-
search should explore issues that ignite curiosity, adventurous-
ness, and new ways of thinking within the diverse south East
Asian cultural context.
The authors would like to acknowledge support from Asso-
ciate Professor Geoff Shacklock from the School of Education,
RMIT University for his ideas for this research.
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