The sleeping taniwha: Exploring the practical utility of kaupapa Maori in firm performance
This thesis takes the position that firm performance is derived from the value embodied by combinations of distinct socio-cultural resources and capabilities. In particular, this thesis explores practice in the context of Māori business to understand the mutual influences between economic exchange and social-cultural structures in terms of achieving improved firm performance. I begin by suggesting that much of the knowledge development and community practice in organisational analysis is subsumed within a Kuhnian conventionalism, which is not useful to gaining a deeper understanding of firm performance. I argue that what is required is an approach that emphasises the contextual development of society and organisation (embodied by social and cultural relations). This brings to the fore the pragmatist epistemology of practical knowledge, an approach to research and analysis of organisations that is at the heart of this research. Practical knowledge connects to the pragmatic orientation of Indigenous logics in this instance kaupapa Māori, which draws us to a perspective of knowledge that is experiential, contextual, diverse and inclusive. The effectiveness of a practical knowledge perspective by means of its pragmatic epistemology allows us to understand Māori businesses operating within a distinctive frame of socio-economic rationality providing a broader utility leading to culturally constituted forms of practice. It was through this lens that I engaged with the proposition regarding firm performance prompting us to look at the field of leadership (habitus), exchange (inter-capital exchange) and relationships (field) in particular. A major emphasis was a search for an appropriate method that would provide an avenue of authentic engagement with the cultural context embodied by kaupapa Māori. In terms of empirical investigation this thesis advances the utility of narrative as an expository technique and interpretive device that accords full recognition of Māori socio-cultural systems of relationships, historic circumstances and current practices. Conducted over three years (December 2004 and June 2006), the fieldwork component involved multiple strands of narrative in the form of dialogue, stories, metaphors, documentation and experiences of myself, other individuals and Māori economic development hui, or gathering. A key finding of this thesis is that kaupapa Māori as expressed through business practice offers a practical utility in relation to the capability of and potential outcomes for improved firm performance. I argue that there are unique characteristics of Māori business practice, which are grounded in the epistemological stance of kaupapa Māori in combination with Western philosophies and techniques of organisation that contribute to the performance of Māori businesses. In addition, I argue that it offers a view of the organisation as something beyond a disembodied system of market exchange and recognises the embeddedness of social processes in each culture will bring specific cultural nuances to the formulation of what constitutes organisational success. Finally, I suggest that kaupapa Māori research, grounded by the epistemological and ontological assumptions of an Indigenous paradigm provides opportunities for gaining greater insight into the dynamics of organisation and management research.
Advisor: Campbell-Hunt, Colin; Cone, Malcolm
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Management
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: kaupapa Maori; indigenous knowledge; firm performance; Maori leadership; kaupapa Maori research; business whanau
Research Type: Thesis