This project explores the role that enterprise plays in indigenous self-determination. In New Zealand, we have chosen to examine Māori business networks (MBNs), which we argue are a manifestation of this struggle, but suffer from the absence of a sustainable business model. Our research question is, 'what is the role of Māori business networks in Māori self-determination and sustainable economic development'?
The project is about enhancing regional Māori economies and the capability of Māori entrepreneurs and the performance of Māori enterprises. This is to be achieved by studying Māori business networks (MBNs) as 'contextually specific' and understudied intermediaries in regional Māori economies. The project is part of an international indigenous research project entitled 'Mahi Tahi mo Te Hinonga: Indigenous Collaboration for Enterprise' (or 'ICE'). ICE explores the role that enterprise plays in indigenous self-determination in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
These countries were chosen because of their common British colonial history and its ongoing impact on indigenous peoples, and as signatories to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Research partners in each country are responsible for securing local funding for their part in the project and defining the scope of their country-cases.
In New Zealand, we have chosen to examine Māori business networks, which we argue, epitomise the Māori struggle for self-determination, but suffer from the absence of a sustainable business model. Our primary research question is, 'what is the role of Māori business networks in Māori self-determination and sustainable economic development'? Our contention is that Māori business networks do contribute, but how this is understood and enacted is tacit knowledge of those involved. We intend, through this research, to uncover the 'thinking,' 'being' and 'doing' associated with regional Māori business networks for their own purposes and as insights for indigenous business networks in our partner countries.
Subsidiary questions are:
why do Māori business networks exist?
how do Māori business networks exist?
what are the enablers and barriers to their existence?