Whakawātea Te Huarahi Whāia Te Mātauranga: Legitimising Space for Meaningful Academic Careers for Māori in Business Schools

Staniland, Nimbus Awhina
Harris, Candice
Pringle, Judith Karen
Webb, Robert
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

Māori are currently underrepresented as academic staff in universities, but consistently defined as a national strategic priority for academic staff recruitment in New Zealand tertiary education strategy (Hall, 2014; Kidman, Chu, Fernandez & Abella, 2015; Mercier, Asmar & Page, 2011). Māori-specific tertiary objectives arise from a unique political landscape and a treaty relationship established between Indigenous (Māori) and British settlers on behalf of the crown, though they are commonly communicated through social justice narratives that aim to redress contemporary Māori socio-economic disadvantage. While recent years have seen a surge in Māori doctoral completions and some advances in representation in pockets of the academy (Mercier et al., 2011; Villegas, 2010), Māori academic representation across New Zealand university business schools continues to languish.

The tensions for Māori as academics to adapt to the values and norms of the academy, whilst attempting to hold fast to tikanga Māori (cultural protocol) has been well documented in the education literature, but has rarely been examined from a careers’ perspective. Further, Māori occupy a relatively new position as academic staff in business schools, and while they are subjected to the cultural struggles and the challenges of the tertiary environment generally, business schools are experiencing additional pressures from international accreditation systems that reward adherence to western models and standards (Perryer & Egan, 2015). The challenge to meet international standards and expectations, while recognising what makes New Zealand culturally unique and important from Māori perspectives, could therefore present particular issues for business schools attempting to enhance Māori academic representation.

This research, grounded in an Indigenous (Māori) research approach that combines a Kaupapa Māori research paradigm with a Māori centred methodology, explores the career experiences of 16 Māori who have worked as business academics in New Zealand university business schools. This research aims to move toward a contextual understanding of business academic careers for Māori through interviews with two additional participant groups, namely ‘Decision Makers’ who contribute managerial perspectives on the business school career environment, and ‘Māori Commentators’, who further illuminate the unique context of academia in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Research findings reveal two main career strategies adopted by Māori business academics in their careers. Additionally, despite cultural and institutional expectations for Māori business academics to contribute to Māori advancement initiatives, these activities were unlikely to translate into academic career advancement for Māori. This thesis contributes empirical findings to the limited body of knowledge pertaining to the careers of Indigenous Peoples, identifies new tensions in the careers of Māori academics yet to be discussed in the literature, and advances boundaryless career theory through articulating how cultural boundaries impact the careers of Māori as business academics. Finally, I consider how careers’ research may be decolonised through: a critical deconstruction of western hegemonic theories, acknowledgement of historical and contextual impacts on careers, the privileging of culturally appropriate methodologies and genuine consultation and collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and researchers.

Kaupapa Māori , Māori , Indigenous methodologies , Academic career , Career , Business school , Aotearoa New Zealand
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