Small Aboriginal enterprise in Australia: re-thinking the silent dichotomy of their uncomfortable two-world situation

Small Aboriginal enterprise in Australia: re-thinking the silent dichotomy of their uncomfortable two-world situation Thesis

Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre

  • Author(s): Moylan, Lousie
  • Published: 2011
  • Publisher: University of Adelaide
  • Volume: PhD

Abstract: Small Aboriginal enterprises (SAE) are reported one way in academic research but assessed and supported in a different way by government. Research (for example on Indigenous business and entrepreneurship) does not influence policy. Stepping stones - enterprise as a process beginning with strong family values/culture (enterprise building blocks) - whole process - interconnected building blocks - interdependency No enterprise began without person having long-term employment or leadership experience Common relationships - (connecting up) interconnectedness, heterogeneity and identity NAO viewed enterprises as ‘success or failure’ - SAE different understandings of success Decision making complexity - choices between work or culture No NAO mentioned the word power but the ASE participants did often Cultural power - Power hungry people-quote - “people who go go go, work and people who want their family first” - managing cultural power influences decision making Dominant families Issues around interpreting finance/time (all social enterprises operated with State and market failure) Social enterprises needed government support but this was kept silent by owners/manangers SAE distrust of government - land title major source of angst Balancing act - between different expectations Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal land tenure is often misunderstood - these misunderstandings stifled SAE and stopped growth (inalienable title) Family is central both positive, negative and inbetween- dealing with disagreements - resolving relationship conflict/tensions NAO use instruction to separate out parts of SAE into health, education, training, welfare etc. This grates against the inclusive and instinctive nature of SAE…”what is a family health issue becomes an enterprise issue; and what is a wage issue becomes a training and/or cultural issue” NAO approaches minimise whole of process thinking - missing element is compromise and reciprocation - a process that SAE already use in their daily lives through family Middle ground - third-world - an interchange place where NAO doesn’t dominante - the SAE middle ground is hinted at or conceptually by other authors (Hybrid economy and Foleys work on Indigenous entrepreneurship) but not formulised to practical or linked on measures. This is already in place (middle ground) however their voice is minimised NAO - dominated two world situation Working through difference by respecting the SAE tri-lectic - suggests that Western economic centred procedures, job readiness-plans, programme outcomes, performance measures and rigid macro level rules are not the most relevant way to support SAE There is no separation of Aboriginality from their enterprise practice (Lindsey 2005) No business without culture - Accretion - this research shows that economics and culture should not be separated but nee action to keep them whole “…our ways to define and measure SAE success may indeed require widening to include Aboriginal complexities, rather than Western economic parameters. Yet, how this can be achieved remains the purpose of future studies” It can be inferred that NAO’s approach is to minimise SAE complex ways (their middle ground and instinctive patterns), but aim to increase the volume of Western economic complexity based on measurement at performance regardless of any Cynefin that is present.

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Suggested Citation
Moylan, Lousie, 2011, Small Aboriginal enterprise in Australia: re-thinking the silent dichotomy of their uncomfortable two-world situation, Volume:PhD, Thesis, viewed 19 May 2024,

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