Māori Leadership in China: How Do Cultural Values Assist Māori International Business Leaders When Operating in China?

Tonumaipe'a, Daysha
Nagar, Swati
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

The aim of this thesis was to study how Māori cultural values have assisted Māori business leaders who internationalise in China. Sub-topics also investigated commonalities and differences between Māori and Chinese cultural values that influence leadership, and their influence on the internationalisation process of Māori business in China. In doing so, the study connects three separate disciplines – culture, leadership, and internationalisation. China is New Zealand’s largest source of international students, second largest tourism market for international visitors, and largest import-export partner (MFAT, 2018a). China’s significance is enormous with NZ$9.4 billion of New Zealand exports to China, and imports of NZ$10.3 billion in 2016 (MFAT, n.d.). In recent years, the Chinese government and organisations have increased business partnerships with local New Zealand firms (Buckley et al., 2007). This momentum presents opportunities for Māori businesses who participate often successfully in the wider economy. To illustrate, the Māori economy has been estimated worth at least NZ$42.6 billion in 2015 (New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, 2015). The Māori primary industry’s contribution to the economy include 36% forestry, 10% dairy, 12% of sheep and beef units, and 30% of lamb product (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2017); all of which contribute to China’s top exports from New Zealand (dairy, wood, and meat). The study is of importance based on the significance of China as an international partner for Māori business. In addition, this study asserts Māori as distinct, with cultural values that uniquely influence leadership in international business. Further, the influence of leadership values on the internationalisation process is currently understudied. The study was qualitative in nature, guided by interpretivist and Kaupapa Māori worldview. The study adopted an integration of grounded theory and case study methods which makes it exploratory in nature. Though other methodologies and methods of analysis have been adopted, this research was primarily driven and guided by Kaupapa Māori practices to ensure cultural appropriateness. In-depth face to face interviews provided the data and results for the findings. Based on the findings, six concepts were identified. These suggest that effective Māori leadership values underpin the internationalisation process of Māori business in China. It is concluded that Māori values favour a network approach to internationalisation in China. As a result, Māori values in China provide social capital and have assisted leaders in building meaningful business relationships.

Internationalisation of Māori Business , Māori Leadership , Māori International Business Leadership , Māori leadership values , Chinese leadership values , Cross-cultural leadership
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