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Dr Diane Ruwhiu - Otago Business SchoolWhat are the critical success factors for Southern Māori Small to Medium Enterprises (SME's) at the different stages of the business life-cycle?

Associate Professor Diane Ruwhiu, from the Otago Business School Department of Management, is leading a research project on identifying the critical success factors of Maori SME's specifically in the Southern region. The project is funded by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE).

Regional economic growth is important to the future of New Zealand but over half of the SME businesses that form the majority of the New Zealand economy fail.

Within this, we know little about how regional Māori SMEs are faring, and what the critical incidents are in their business life-cycles that can help or hinder their contribution to the local economy.

Māori business is regarded as where the owner identifies themselves as Māori.

Associate Professor Ruwhiu is working with an Otago based research team, an advisory group of representatives from Te Puni Kōkiri's Māori Business Facilitation Service and Te Kupeka Umaka Māori ki Araiteuru (KUMA) The Southern Māori Business Network.

Associate Professor Ruwhiu said the distinct difference about the Māori economy is that it is actually a multiplicity of economies that include SME's, tribal enterprises, social enterprises and even customary economies. “Research therefore needs to take in this wider perspective.”

She will be looking for common patterns in certain stages of pre, startup, growth and maturity of the Māori businesses she will be surveying.

There is a huge void, for instance between the pre-stage where there is government and iwi support, to the growth level when a business is expected to then stand on its own to survive, grow, employ and potentially export. Guidelines and strategies beyond start-up may therefore help to guide businesses through the pitfalls.

The research plans to:

  • Explore ownership, governance and performance characteristics of Southern Māori SMEs.
  • Map the Māori SME business life-cycle in the Southern region and examine the frame of institutional arrangements to support them, including the innovation system.
  • Examine regional Māori SMEs contribution to economic development, to better understand the cultural, social and economic context within which they operate

This research feeds into a broader research project on the development of the Maori economy.

Next year, Dr Ruwhiu will continue to develop this work as one of several Primary Investigators from across New Zealand to join Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga as it relaunches in 2016.

She will be participating in research into what constitutes Māori economies and economics, the role diverse Māori economies play in the collective representation of the Māori economy, and how to better realise its collective strength.

One of the key issues is to identify areas of critical resource development (e.g. Māori freehold land) and innovation (e.g. rejuvenating traditional foods, uptake of new technologies). The researchers will look for exemplars of Māori resource development and innovation, and attempt to identify what is needed to optimise the as yet unrealised potential of Māori assets, including knowledge.

Contact Details

Associate Professor Diane Ruwhiu
Department of Management, Otago Business School
Tel. 03 479 8075
Department of Management Staff Profile

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