Special JMO Issue for 2017 – an insight into indigenous entrepreneurship
Our last issue of JMO for 2017 was running a bit late but this special issue on Indigenous Entrepreneurship is well worth the wait. Curated by the team of Jason Mika, Lorraine Warren, Dennis Foley and Farah Rangikoepa Palmer, it begins with a Maori greeting from the editorial team. This sets the scene for a wide and inclusive set of papers that provide the reader with an immersive voyage into world of indigenous entrepreneurship in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. By explicitly recognising the importance of context, place and history, this special issue cleverly makes it a journey of universal relevance.
A note in the editorial does this well – how many of us knew that indigenous account for 5 percent of the world’s population? The tension between reconciling history and truly understanding/ appreciating indigenous values is dealt with by a plea “to move forward from past injustices and develop new perspectives on entrepreneurship, innovation and enterprise that realise the potential of indigenous peoples.” It is this theme of the ‘potential’ that really provides the road map which integrates a fascinatingly diverse range of eight papers.
The first article takes us to Fiji where Regina Scheyvens, Glenn Banks, Litea Meo-Sewabu, and Tracy Decena examine the understandings and practices around sustainability to question how this could be measured in ways that reflect the centrality of land to Pacific peoples. If this is not enough to gladden the hearts of those lucky enough to have visited Fiji (and for those who haven’t, hopefully reading this will see you booking a trip), the authors’ use the indigenous method of talanoa (conversation and story-telling) and presentation of a rich visual graphic, surely will!
Like a good novel, the issue then changes pace and we move to New Zealand and a story of individual indigenous entrepreneurship as Chellie Spiller, Ella Henry and Jamie Newth introduce us to Dr Lance O’Sullivan. It is a story of social innovation in technology being used address issues of some of the health inequity and inequality that so disproportionately affect Māori people living in remote regions of New Zealand. Given that this is a problem we know in many countries, the insights and potential for action this paper offers clearly extend well beyond NZ. John Burgess and Susan Congreve provide another aspect of the challenges of living in isolated areas as this third paper for this issue take us to an examination of art centres in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. They draw on the concept of the hybrid economy to highlight the tensions these communities face in managing their roles of being agents (for the sale of cultural art in local and global markets), as well as providers of state-funded services and thirdly, as community development organisations. It is a thoughtful paper that offers much more than an interesting story – with clear practical implications for government policy.
We return to NZ in the fourth article where John Brocklesby and Elizabeth Beall present their research on comparative advantage of Māori-land based enterprises (known as Māori authorities) in New Zealand in the climate change arena. This paper quite simply is a wonderful example of good research method, respectful research in itself and thoughtful analysis and explanation.
Criss-crossing the Tasman, continues and our fifth article finds us in the town of Yirrkala, northeast Arnhem Land, northern Australia. Here, authors Rochelle Spenser, Martin Brueckner, Gareth Wise and Banduk Marika provide a rich ethnographic account of capacity development within an Indigenous social enterprise—Nuwul Environmental Services. This paper deals explicitly with the tensions the need to balance making money with being culturally responsive. While the story is one of hope, as the authors do that capacity development through social enterprise does indeed facilitate indigenous aspirations for self-determination, they also find that the people continue to face a precarious existence. The paper provides a thoughtful note to the tendency most of us have (from academics to policy makers), to offer a ‘normalising’ of the need for a structured and balanced approach to managing indigenous social and economic activities.
Just in case this may be seen as an interesting but isolated, the sixth paper takes us back across to NZ and the world of mutton birding (tītī or sooty shearwater) in islands off the southern coast of the South Island. John Reid, Matthew Rout, Te Aika Benjamin, Renata Davis and Te Maire Tau explore contemporary challenges in this traditional economy. Taking us on a history lesson the Crown purchase of Rakiura in the mid-1800s to the return of Crown owned tītī islands to Ngāi Tahu through its treaty settlement in the mid-1990s, the paper demonstrates how institutional authority, rights and exchange governing tītī harvest and sale to produce a confused and complex situation today. Once again, the tension between financial viability and tradition emerges sand no quick or easy solution is in sight.
While there are six papers presenting powerful and diverse stories that present compelling visions of what indigenous entrepreneurship looks like, two key questions seem to unite them. The first is, what should/ could ‘good’ assistance to indigenous entrepreneurs look like and second questions the need for the unique context of each situation to be addressed over and above the generic themes and issues which seem to emerge.
The first question is the subject of the seventh article where Lorraine Warren, Jason Mika and Farah Palmer draws on the authors’ research on the interface and interplay between entrepreneurial identity, indigenous entrepreneurship and enterprise assistance within the bicultural (Māori and Pākehā) context of Aotearoa New Zealand. They conclude that entrepreneurship policy is increasingly acknowledging the important nuances of Māori entrepreneurial identity and they offer recommendations as to how the providers of assistance might do so in more culturally authentic and effective ways.
The last article takes on the question of the importance of context as author Francesca Croce, immerses herself within the international indigenous entrepreneurship literature in search of insights on the recurring theme of context. Her resulting classification of indigenous entrepreneurship identifies degrees of localisation and urbanisation to isolate urban, remote and rural models of indigenous entrepreneurship. This deceptively simple idea is beautifully explained and developed in the paper in a way that swiftly puts pay to those wanting a one-size-fits-all indigenous entrepreneurship paradigm!
Overall the guest editors of this issue, Jason Mika, Lorraine Warren, Dennis Foley and Farah Rangikoepa Palmer, have produced not only a highly readable and lush voyage into indigenous entrepreneurship, they have also contributed to what is recognised as an increasingly important area of research. It is one that the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) has proudly supported in their Indigenous Special Issues Interest Group – and one that JMO is very, very proud to showcase in this special issue.
Associate Professor Tui McKeown Editor In Chief, JMO