Understanding the central tension of Indigenous entrepreneurship: purpose, profit and leadership

Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Dr Michelle Evans

At the heart of Australian Indigenous enterprise sits a central tension — the pursuit of profit (individual) versus the pursuit of independent Indigenous economic development (collective purpose). Whilst the individual/collective duality is not unique to Indigenous entrepreneurs (Farjoun 2010), it provides for discursive dispute as to the purpose and motivation of individual Indigenous entrepreneurs. This paper seeks to make a contribution by critically discussing how Australian Indigenous entrepreneurs enact leadership as they work to make sense of the central tension of Indigenous entrepreneurship in their own business. By focusing on both individual level and collective motivations for pursuing self-employment, we argue that Australian Indigenous entrepreneurs are providing leadership as they traverse these difficult and consequential terrains of Indigenous economic development.