Te hononga: Māori enterprise collaborations and knowledge management

Jason Mika, Jason Cordier and Matthew Roskruge
Friday, November 20, 2020

Based on 21 stakeholders of two Māori collaborative enterprises at two distinct stages of maturity (commercialised and at the feasibility stage), this paper identifies enabling and constraining factors surrounding Indigenous Māori enterprise collaborations. The paper offers insights pertaining to the tensions of managing knowledge in Māori and Indigenous collaborative environments, contrasting our findings against non-Indigenous literature. Tino rangatiratanga, or Māori self-determination is a key principle of Māori development. Collaborative enterprise involving Māori organisations have, therefore, been used as an important vehicle to achieve this.

The sharing of knowledge within and between Māori entities is arguably a critical component to further expand critical capabilities that will enable tino rangatiratanga to be expressed and achieved. This paper offers insights into how collaborative Māori enterprises are utilising the capabilities of partners and developing these capabilities. Previous work has offered insights into success factors of collaborations and the characteristics of Māori collaborations, yet little is known about how Māori enterprises manage knowledge when undertaking collaborative entrepreneurial ventures. This includes internally managing knowledge between Māori enterprises when collaborating with other Māori organisations, and managing knowledge when dealing with non-Māori enterprise. Scholars acknowledge the tensions and difficulties of knowledge sharing. Sharing knowledge does not occur in a mechanistic and linear manner. Indeed, Szulanski’s framework on stickiness of knowledge argues that knowledge is difficult to transfer among different participants. Low levels of expertise, arduous relationships, and cultural variations decrease the level of knowledge shared. Therefore, it is particularly important to better understand the processes that enable and constrain Indigenous knowledge management in collaborative enterprise environments.

The broader research project sought to answer one overarching research question: how does collaboration occur within and across Māori enterprises? Relatedly, the research explores how knowledge management occurs within and across Māori collaborative enterprise environments. The research adopted a Māori-centred research approach, which is research by, for and with Māori and non-Māori for the benefit of Māori and non-Māori, using mixed methods. The paper offers insights of how Māori can work collaboratively to achieve enterprise success and create benefits for regional development.

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