Perspectives on success from Indigenous entrepreneurs in Northern Australia

Beau J. Austin, Stephen T. Garnett

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Development of success metrics can assist entrepreneurs achieve their goals more effectively, demonstrate achievements, attract new investment/partners and build public support. However, metrics of success are based on subjective worldviews. In Australia, Indigenous peoples’ ‘performance’ has usually been evaluated from the perspective of the dominant culture, rarely with reference to the views of the Indigenous entrepreneurs themselves. This paper seeks first to outline the problematic nature of defining success, exploring the issue and potential options using three case studies of indigenous enterprises in remote Northern Australia that use wild harvested plants and animals commercially. Actors associated with each of these case studies were asked whether they thought they were successful and the reasons behind their self-appraisal. This research opens space to discuss alternative approaches to measuring Indigenous enterprise success that acknowledge and respect cultural and contextual difference. Evaluations of the performance of Indigenous entrepreneurs must start broad, embrace Indigenous worldviews, consider context, be adaptive to changed circumstances and/or aspirations, see non-financial goals as legitimate and important, use shared definitions of success, and provide entrepreneurs and development agents (government, NGOs, corporates, etc.) with the training, tools and resources to evaluate and communicate their own success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-201
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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