Doing business with indigenous enterprises at Kakadu National Park

  • Tracey Maria Haines

    Student thesis: Other thesis - CDU


    The purpose of the research is to examine, through qualitative techniques, the cultural dimension to the business relationships that the Gagudju and Djabulukgu Associations of the Northern Territory have with their non-indigenous pattners Australian Nature Conservation Agency (ANCA); Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA); and Southern Pacific Hotels.

    The main aim of the project is to explore cultural issues affecting business through personal interviews, in order to create awareness and understanding for the broader community (nationally and internationally) in the process of preparing for business discussions and successfully managing joint ventures. The project will also document strategies that have been implemented by their pattners in an attempt to bridge the 'cultural gap'. Through the identification of 'do's and don'ts' and 'strengths and weaknesses', it is intended that a 'best practice' model be created which would not only benefit and serve the interests of the Gagudju and Djabulukgu Associations and their business pa1tners in improving their relationships but could also be beneficial for other indigenous peoples of Australia and their business pattners. Research suggests that recognising and heeding cultural differences can be the key to business success and taking into consideration people's cultural requirements can lead to the best possible outcome.

    Personal interviews with key identified people from each industry - indigenous and non-indigenous, were undertaken at Darwin, Jabiru and Kakadu National Park from September to November, 1996. Knowledge obtained through studying a local example of managing cultural diversity in business relationships can provide an appreciation of cross-cultural matters domestically and abroad, however, generalisations are limited to the subjects of this research. Culture impacts upon the conduct of doing business and its significance needs to be recognised in the analysis and implementation of Australia's economic and foreign trade policies.

    The findings reveal that the Gagudju Association and ANCA identified similar concerns for employment advancement, ie career opportunities and training for indigenous employees. It was expected the new Plan of Management would address those areas of weakness and put in place strategies to overcome the concerns. However, the Gagudju and Djabulukgu Associations shared the opinion that ANCA were doing many things 'right'. Strategies adopted by ANCA to successfully joint­manage Kakadu National Park had earned the respect of local indigenous traditional owners and Aboriginal people from the area felt real ownership of the Park and were involved in the decision-making process.

    Southern Pacific Hotel were experiencing difficulties with employment and retention of indigenous staff and were looking at ways to address this including the employment of an Aboriginal Liaison Officer. The hotel realised the need to offer relevant and attractive employment opportunities which were flexible to the cultural requirements of indigenous people. The Gagudju Association expressed disappointment that some of their people were not taking up employment opportunities, particularly the younger generation from the town of Jabiru who were familiar with 'western' work practices. Nevertheless, the hotel was an important asset to the Gagudju Association for present and future generations.

    ERA were suppmtive of Aboriginal people's desire to improve their economic status and would assist, where possible, enterprises that would benefit indigenous associations. They felt it important to employ Aboriginal Liaison Officers in the town centre of Jabiru to improve accessibility, yet there were some perceptions by indigenous people that ERA would only tell people what they want them to know. Induction programs for new employees included an indigenous component which emphasised their legal obligations to the people of the area. The Djabulukgu Association suggested the induction programs should be extended to the family members of the employees to help improve personal and working relationships with indigenous people.

    A list of 'best-practice' ideas have been formulated into a set of guidelines which are designed to assist companies or interested business people when considering economic proposals, such as joint ventures, with indigenous people. However, the reader needs to aware that conclusions reached are strictly limited to those in the study and only tentatively suggested generalisations can be made.

    Date of Award1998
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAlistair J. Heatley (Supervisor)

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