Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Nunivak Island Mekoryuk Alaska (Nima) Corporation: An Examination of a Native Village Corporation's Strategy Development

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Nunivak Island Mekoryuk Alaska (Nima) Corporation: An Examination of a Native Village Corporation's Strategy Development

Article excerpt


The primary subject matter of this case involves developing a strategy for NIMA to determine which ventures to accept with specific attention to developing a strategic framework to examine the viability of entering various markets based on incomplete information and the lack of full-time management as identified in the case. The case has a difficulty level of 4, appropriate for the undergraduate level. The case is designated to be taught in 1.5 class hours and is expected to require 2-3 hours of outside preparation by students.


This case examines the evolution of native corporations under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 and some of the challenges facing native corporations. The primary subject matter of this case concerns the development of strategy for a small native village corporation on Nunivak Island, with the added challenge of determining both strategic and operational issues falling solely within the purview of the corporation's board of directors. Specifically, the core issues surround the decision(s) whether to enter into some combination of three potential ventures where the board of directors acts as the principal operational manager. This uncharacteristic approach to management is a result of a tumultuous history and cultural issues. Embedded within the case lies an attempt by some to make the argument for hiring a full time general manager to the shareholders.


The board of directors had just finished meeting and were trying to create a new direction for the corporation. They convened in the village corporation headquarters, although it was considered the corporate headquarters, in reality it was a building with a fax machine, phone, computer and a part time administrative assistant who took care of day-to-day operations. Jimmy Smith, Chairman of the board was trying to figure out whether the board was on the right track. Had they over committed the corporation in their exuberance of changing the strategy and mission of the corporation? Did they really know what we were getting themselves into? The last two years had seen a dramatic shift in the composition of the corporate board of directors. Terry and Wayne Don had recently been elected and were beginning to move the corporation in a new direction. Both were college graduates and were finishing up Masters of Business Administration programs at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), respectively. Terry was in the second year of three-year term. He had been able to make some subtle changes to the board's approach to business and was chiefly responsible for the technological changes in the corporation; he had created a website ( and also began to chart a fiscal course for the corporation. As treasurer he was on a campaign to cut costs and take charge of the corporation's finances.

Wayne was a relatively new member who had been elected to the board 4 months earlier. He was in the military assigned to teach Reserve Officer Training Corps to students enrolled in the UAF Military Science program. He was learning the corporate culture and had volunteered to head up a cultural tourism project slated to start in the summer.

Jimmy thought about the ventures that they decided to pursue: renovating foreclosed properties, Eco-tourism, and entering the 8 A (a US Federal government initiative discussed in more detail later in the case) market. The last venture was a partnership with a prominent electrical company in Alaska. If they could break into this they might be able to grow revenues for the long term. This was by for the most exciting and promising venture for the corporation. Jimmy thought about the goals and verbiage they had just adopted:


To be an Alaskan Native Corporation that is the standard for economic success, corporate growth, and cultural preservation


To pursue and develop economic opportunities that will enhance shareholder standard of living through business diversification, professionalism, innovation, and respect for heritage and culture


Maintain open honest two-way communication with shareholders

Continuous improvement

Increase and maintain cultural pride and respect for people

Service to shareholders, public, and customers

Dedication to corporate vision and mission statements

Short term goals

Long term goals

Did they have the capacity to pursue such lofty goals? …

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