Tribal organisational dynamism: From tribal aspirations to tribal outcomes

Lyn McCurdy & Dr Jason Mika - IIRC20
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Organisations are created to fulfil human wants and needs in ways that resemble the prevailing social, cultural, political, economic and moral contexts in which they are embedded (Mika et al., 2020; Mika et al., 2019; Polanyi, 1944). Favourable organisational configurations from a Western perspective at least have traditionally been those with singular purposes (economic value creation), that exhibit the right balance of bureaucracy and freedom, possess identifiable owners with quantifiable interests, whose value is derived from productive use of private property for the economic advantage of owners (Boston et al., 1996; Crocombe et al., 1991). Sustainability has widened measures of organisational success beyond competitive advantage (Crocombe et al., 1991) to the triple bottom-line (ecological, sociological and economic value) (Elkington, 2018; Stoner & Wankel, 2010). The typical iwi (tribal) organisation in Aotearoa New Zealand is not like this, however. Instead, tribal organisations emerge on the basis of whakapapa (genealogical links to a common ancestor, after whom the tribe is named), to fulfil tribal aspirations (the wants and needs of the people) using tribal assets (a combination of taonga, or non-tradeable heritage property, and non-heritage, tradeable property) in configurations that make best use of contemporary legal formations for post-colonial tribalism (Belgrave, 2014; Craig et al., 2012; Durie, 2011; Mika, Smith, et al., 2019; Taonui, 2012). Tribal organisations are forms of Māori organisation whose success centres on fulfilling tribal aspirations, which, according to Durie’s (2006) outcomes schema—Te Ngāhuru—encompasses a secure cultural identity, collective synergies, cultural resources, and the Māori estate. In post-treaty settlement governance entities, the process by which tribal aspirations are converted into tribal outcomes is likely conditioned by tribal polity, tribal governance, tribal management, and tribal capacities, among other factors (Smith et al., 2015). The research that is the focus of this paper is understanding the influence of iwi aspirations on outcomes for iwi organisations, unpacking the complexity and contribution these organisations are making to self-determined tribal development, national development and Indigenous organisational theory and practice. Two research questions guide the study: first, how do tribal aspirations manifest in iwi organisations; and second, how should a non-Indigenous researcher approach research with iwi organisations? Case studies of iwi organisations is the predominant methodology. This paper discusses preliminary findings on the second of these questions—insights from non-Indigenous researchers from multiple countries, sectors, sites and disciplinary epistemologies from which a set of emergent research principles and ethics are articulated for discussion among the global Indigenous research community. Because the lead author and primary investigator is non-Indigenous, this methodological enquiry is extremely pertinent to finding meaningful ways that honour kaupapa Māori (Māori philosophical) research of Indigenous organisations by non-Indigenous researchers. The scholarly wisdom of what has and has not worked in Indigenous research by non-Indigenous researchers will inform the case study research with iwi organisations, which is presently underway.

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