Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online)

The Function of Social (and Human) Capital as Antecedents on Indigenous Entrepreneurs Networking

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online)

The Function of Social (and Human) Capital as Antecedents on Indigenous Entrepreneurs Networking

Article excerpt

Abstract

A possible knowledge gap in entrepreneurship literature became evident during a comparative qualitative study of two Indigenous groups of entrepreneurs; Australian Aboriginal and New Zealand-Aotearoa Maori entrepreneurs. When the relationship between networking and social and human capital attainment was addressed within the majority settler society business culture it would appear that the networking attributes of Indigenous entrepreneurs differ. This suggests that the underlying social and human capital attainments are unique to their individual cultures. Possible differences between the attainment of social and human capital is directly related to the ongoing impact of colonial practice which has directly influenced the networking ability of the Indigenous entrepreneurs and their business positioning within comparative markets. This paper seeks to provide discussion and preliminary data for future modelling and development of human, social, financial and natural capitals for Indigenous entrepreneurial success.

Introduction

Indigenous enterprise development has been a catch cry for successive governments around the globe that strive to repair the poverty and social injustice that have been forced on Indigenous people under the tyranny of colonial dominance combined with the desire among many of the world's 300-500 million Indigenous people to rebuild their communities or to provide for their families (University of Minnesota 2003; Peredo, Anderson, Galbraith, Hoing, & Dana, 2004). Within this process, all too often, government practice is short-term, reactionary, lacking empirical evidence to support economic and social policy. It is proposed, if in this work we can understand the interrelationship between human and social capital and Indigenous entrepreneurial activity, then Indigenous driven research may assist program development to deliver rigorous Indigenous economic reform for Indigenous business based on socio-cultural understanding. As Brough and Bond have argued, a problem exists whereby;

"...the deficit-based, non-Aboriginal ideologies surrounding Aboriginal identity and communities, social capital can be in danger of simply being added to a long list of shortfalls in Aboriginal resources . . . Poor social capital becomes a marker of inactive citizenship ... it is not long before the inferior characteristics of Aboriginal social formations once again become the source of scrutiny from a 'superior' non-Aboriginal position" (Brough & Bond 2009: 248-9)

This is compounded by the limited research in Australia into social capital (Brough & Bond 2009) and this is why Australia and its near neighbour Aotearoa (New Zealand) have been chosen for this study. The aim of this project is a comparative analysis that examines Indigenous networking, levels and types and any connection between human capital and social capital. Understanding Human capital is important from the Indigenous standpoint as the majority of our Aboriginal youth still only obtain a primary level education (Australian Bureaus of Statistics 2008). Prior to 19721 most of the authors' own generation were institutionally un-educated - educated only to be labourers, unskilled people with nominal human capital. When you are socially stratified at the sub-terrain of human society; the difficulty of the climb up, out of poverty and freedom from welfare dependency is then exacerbated. If we can understand how successful Indigenous entrepreneurs overcome this colonial impediment and multi-generational manufactured social phenomena then, as mentioned previously, we can better inform the policy maker.

Previous studies (Evald, Klyver & Svendsen 2006; Foley, 2005b; 2006) have shown that cross-cultural interaction and the legacy of colonisation can impact on the Indigenous entrepreneur's day-to-day operations. An important finding of this research, which has to date received little attention - an exception being the Australian Taxation Office (2009), is the possible relationship between human and social capital and environmental factors such as discriminatory practices and racial stereotyping in business. …

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